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It seems fitting that my introduction to Chinese rock would be through a random CD I picked up in a dollar bin in Brooklyn’s Chinatown shortly after 9/11. The CD was the 1997 debut album by pioneering Beijing punk band The Fly. The bin was outside of Xinhua Bookstore/Fantasy Audio & Video Inc. (8th Avenue just below 53rd Street) in Sunset Park. Fitting because, after all, rock and roll in the People’s Republic took off in the late 80s to early 90s with the introduction of dakou (打口, “saw gash” or “cut out”) cassettes and CDs from the Western world—literally, remaindered discs and tapes intended for landfill but rerouted to dakou stores where people like Feng Jiangzhou, the Fly’s lead singer, got his first taste of the once forbidden music. [Read the rest of this article inOpen City.]
Part one of two, from what appears to be a Japanese documentary about Beijing punk.