Beijing rock dies before it gets old with latest club closure

BEIJING (Reuters) - Mao Live House, a legendary live rock music venue in Beijing, shut its doors on the weekend, the latest closure to hit China’s music scene.

Owner Li Chi said the club, popular among fans of punk, metal and alternative rock since it opened nine years ago, was forced to close due to tighter rules on live performances and rising rent.

“Originally nobody paid any attention to us because this market is small. Now the market has gotten big, so we’re facing legal issues regarding the legitimatizing of commercial support,” he told Reuters during the club’s last public concert.

Singers in China have long had to contend with official restrictions, despite a thriving music scene. China’s censors are notoriously sensitive not just to subversive political content, but also references to sex, drugs and religion.

China has tightened control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012, citing the need to shore up national security and stability.

Mao Live House closed its doors to the public on Sunday but Li said he was looking for another location in Beijing.

Several other Beijing clubs have closed in recent weeks.

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An owner of Dusk Dawn Club said on the messaging app WeChat that it had reopened on Monday after being forced to close on April 21.

A Chinese media website had quoted the Dongcheng District Culture Committee as saying the club had to stop all business activity and “rectify” itself.

Feng Chen, a 22-year-old punk rock fan who attended the final concert at Mao Live House, said the closures were worrying for fans of live music.

“If there must be less and less places like this in Beijing there might be new ways to hold concerts, like on the street or just find any random place to hold one,” she said.

Lai Jinrong, a guitarist with the heavy metal band Logic Out of Control, who played at Mao’s on its last night, pointed to competition from night clubs and discos.

“I think that rock and roll and metal in China began to die before they reached maturity,” he said.