Hsu-nami Approaches Stardom

New-Jersey-based erhu rock band Hsu-nami just released their second CD: The Four Noble Truths [available on CD Baby]. I bought a train ticket and left on the Amtrak at the butt crack of dawn from my town in central Virginia in order to catch their CD release party at Arlene's Grocery in lower east Manhattan on 3/28/09.

Crammed into the basement of Arlene's Grocery was a sea of Hsu-nami fans. The band is well loved by a strikingly heterogeneous crowd. From disparate communities--the band's college buddies to Taiwanese student groups such as FTSANY and ATANY, as well as Asian American organizations such as CAPA, and Taiwanese American groups like Passport to Taiwan and TaiwawneseAmerican.org--they stood and danced in synchrony to celebrate this event. I joined two other videographers in the front row of the audience to shoot the performance with my old-school mini-DV recorder and SLR camera. Next to me stood Irene of FTSANY, an avid Hsu-nami fan who started the Hsu-nami Street Team. She boasted to me that she brought at least 40 people to the show. I commended her for her work.

Hsu-nami's performance was spectacular that night. Jack's erhu performance had an impeccable sound and intonation. Jack, Brent, and Tony exchanged solos stepping in the spotlight, shredding on their respective instruments with precision and strength. Derril and John fired rapid and powerful bass tones. Four bodies moved in formation some times pairing up, other times prancing to the pulse of the music. These guys knew how to excite a crowd. By the end of the night, the staff at Arlene's Grocery stayed, however voluntarily or reluctantly, for a few post-last-call encores to accommodate the zealous partiers.

Between the end of the set and the band’s encore reappearance, one 20-something-year-old guy shouted from the audience, almost in desperation, “I want your erhu.” Presumably he was impressed by Jack’s performance. Maybe this is the beginning of a testament to Jack’s erhu-rock-stardom. They’ve got the fandom, the hype, and the cross-cultural connections. I’d say, Hsu-nami is fast approaching where they want to be.

Here are some of my favorite shots of the show:

Jack on erhu




More pictures from this flickr set.

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