Yaogun Mixtapes


Alt wasn’t all darkness and angst.

“How Steel Wasn’t Tempered” 钢铁是怎样没有练成的

Wooden Pushmelon 木退瓜乐队

From Ma Music, a compilation featuring WP, Glamorous Pharmacy and Ruins

As Overload went for speed, Hades went for death and were the earliest practitioners of that form of metal.

“The Nightmare Continues” 恶梦在继续

Hades 冥界

from the album

Yaogun Beijing III (1997)

Mix 2: Ten Years On: Into the New Millennium

(c) Jonathan Campbell all rights reserved


“Higher Being” 高級動物

from the album

Dark Dream (1994)

Dou Wei 窦唯


“Marsman” 火星人

from the album

China Fire Vol II (1996)

Zhou Ren  周韧

As grunge got going, metal began to mutate. 

“Shatter” 破碎

Overload 超载

from the album

China Fire Volume II (1996)

We left our journey, on Mix 1, at Underbaby’s taking up the grunge torch in 1996. Which, ten years after Cui Jian kicked the whole Thing off, is about when things got complicated exciting.

Birth of an Empire: “Indie” label Modern Sky forwent the dark and dreary for the happier, if occasionally moan-y, new wave.

“This is Our Time”


New Pants 新裤子

from the album

Modern Sky I:

It’s Our Times (1998)

Meanwhile, an ‘Alt’ was brewing, and Modern Sky was there, too.

“Beautiful Life” 美好的生活

The Fly 苍蝇乐队

from the album

The Fly I (1997)

Tongue was one of the undisputed kings of the alt/underground scene from the late nineties into the aughts, evidenced by the crowd on this 2001 night, in Beijing’s roller-skate-palace-cum-rock-club, Happy Paradise.

“Chickling Out of the Shell” 小鸡出壳

Tongue 舌头乐队

Live performance, 2001

Thin Man became the leading purveyors of Rage-Against-the-Machine-style rap-rock, and brought underground yaogun to the fore with their high-selling debut in 1999.

“Talk, Talk” 说说

Thin Man 瘦人乐队

Live performance, 2001

Punk was another stream of alternatives rising throughout yaogun’s underground. Beijing’s four prominent punk bands formed the Boredom Brigade (无聊军队), and a self-titled 1999 compilation is essential listening

69 乐队

“Rock n’ Roll with Chinese Characteristics” 有中国特色的Rock n’ Roll

What the punks were rebelling against:

“Use rock and roll to sell your conscience / Turn anger into cash . . .

Use long hair to cover up the emptiness / Use music to deceive the truth.”

Second Hand Rose, like fellow Beijing-based band Zi Yue, got traditionally Chinese in their proggy and humourous yaogun

“Trick” 伎俩

Second Hand Rose 二手玫瑰乐队

Live in 2003; the song appears on their self-titled album from the same year.  

(Apologies in advance for the ads that automatically start in Chinese video-viewing sites)

If grunge died with Kurt Cobain, then Xie Tianxiao (who now goes by XTX) is proof of reincarnation.

“Who Was It That Brought Me Here” 是谁把我待到了这里

Cold-Blooded Animal 冷血动物乐队

Live in 2003; the song appears on the 2005 album Xie Tianxiao and Cold-Blooded Animal

And, finally, a glimpse of the folk scene in Wild Children.

“Incantation” 诅咒

Wild Children 野孩子乐队

From the 2000 album Incantation