"Shikantaza" -- a Zen meditation practice aimed at the aimless. No mantra or breathing to concentrate on -- only tuning into the the experience itself.
Smack in the middle of Berlin's Neukölln neighborhood, Huxleys Neue Welt provided the atmosphere for Chinese Man's last date in Germany for their Shikantaza Live Tour 2018. A chilled-out murmer filled the room as friend groups sat on the floor for a pre-show relaxation ritual.
This relaxation quickly changed as two men took to the stage wielding turntables, sample pads, and stylish headwear. The duo known as The Scratch Bandits Crew off of the Chinese Man Records served an omen for the evening's events. With a medley of blending originals over C2C scratching style and tipping their fashionable hats to some bass music greats, like Bassnectar and Gramatik, The Scratch Bandits Crew warmed our bodies up for a seamless baton passing to the trio out of Marseille, France: Chinese Man.
A smoke-filled stage blared oriental samples and thunder noises in perfect tandem with strobe effects bringing us to midnight in a jungle storm. A forewarning of immersion in an audiovisual experience was afoot, as a crowd glowing with anticipation strapped in for the ride. Three hooded men appeared to thunderously parade into their set with a large console of mixing equipment commanding it with samurai-like discipline, as we were pulled into Shikantaza Live.
Joining the immersive element under a silhouette was Chinese Man's squad of disciples, including long-time collaborator MC Youthstar, and members of the multinational hiphop group ASM -- A State of Mind -- MC Green T and FP. Together the Entourage tag-teamed rapid fire verses over the track "Escape" breaking us through into a new frontier of intensity. The realization began to set in that this squad of six was heavily armed with groud-shattering audio, potent visuals, and vocal heat rocks to claim this evening as a ritual for illuminating existence.
Together, Chinese Man took each moment over to enable focus on the sum of all of the elements. Through the concentration on the experience as a whole, the room was taken to the stratosphere and to unreachable parts of the earth. Bringing us back down, The Chinese Man crew ended the night with a special live remix of their famous "I've Got That Tune" track. As people interpreted the special live showcase through their movements, the awe of the room was nearly tangible at the show's end as we broke back into real life.
Special thanks to my esteemed colleague Marc aka MRKÜS for the photography work.
Shoutout to SureShot Promotions for bringing Chinese Man to Germany and for letting us cover the show.