By Matthew DeFeo
They came in with street clothes. They came out with make-up — well, at least one of them did.
Second Hand Rose, a Chinese band, briskly walked on stage for its performance on Thursday, Oct. 16, preparing for a chaotic display that would soon ensue on stage.
They are a self-described folk band despite being labeled mistakenly as a punk band by other listeners. And yet the misconception doesn’t seem to bother them at all.
Beginning with an apology from the percussion player Jeroen Groenewegen-Lau, the band relayed to the audience how the concert was delayed due to problems with amplifiers and microphones.
Professor Jiayan Mi introduced the band as the “hottest, biggest Chinese glam rock band.” However, he forgot to say “the loudest.”
Second Hand Rose like to play their music loud: the suona, a traditional Chinese instrument, loud; the drums, loud; the bass, loud; the lead guitar, loud; the vocals — you guessed it — loud. And with influences like Michael Jackson, Metallica and Nirvana, how could a band not be?
Before the show began, the band’s manager Eric de Fontenay assured the audience that Second Hand Rose “was not a bunch of Chinese guys playing rock music.”
So when a man dressed in a pink jacket adorned with splashes of green and yellow polygons stood on the stage, shook his shoulder tassels, showed his lipstick and flicked his eyebrows, de Fontenay’s caveat was completely understandable.
This man, Liang Long, shrieked and moaned from falsetto to chest voice while mimetically touching the fourth wall.
In between songs, the percussion player Jeroen, due to the other members lacking proficiency in English, would read off of a Prezi presentation to educate the audience on their music.
Long started the band because he became dissatisfied that “many bands were trying to copy western music,” Jeroen said.
The name Second Hand Rose is a jab at many bands that just want to copy western rock without any innovation. Instead, the members of Second Hand Rose wanted to combine the sounds of Michael Jackson and Metallica while also keeping the elements of Chinese opera and traditional music intact.
Although their dress might seem to be an elaborate stage gimmick, Jeroen assured the audience that the red and green garb was to symbolize the color of the Northeast region of China where the members are from, the classical mixed with the modern. This hybridity, Jeroen said, is very important to the band’s identity.
On the Prezi, the band gave the song titles in Chinese and English. Such titles included “Is the East Brighter than the West” and “After Basking in the Setting Sun, I’ll Wallow in Lament,” beautifully crafted song titles that resonated with periods such as the Tang Dynasty golden age of China.
The band came on for an encore, due to a gasping Professor Mi jumping on the microphone and prodding the band to deliver.
After a resounding response, the band’s manager said he would do his best to book Second Hand Rose for next year. Professor Mi invited Second Hand Rose to showcase the best music China has to offer, and he has been teaching a class on the subject since 2010.