Beijing’s Big Thunder – Sonic Confessionals and Shades of Contemplation
Updated: Jul 7
In this short write-up for China Temper's Fact Checkers, we are introduced to Beijing’s grunge goliaths Big Thunder (大雷音乐队)!
See the China Temper posting here.
Want to listen to Big Thunder (大雷音乐队)'s discography? Click here!
All photos used for this posting provided by the band. Other photos used in promotional visuals on social media were provided by the concert photographer @就叫我趙大發先生吧 (微博Weibo)
Although they are usually categorized as simply grunge rock, Big Thunder (大雷音乐队 in Chinese) is so much more than just another Chinese rock band in the vein of that somber yet angsty Seattle sound. Mixing elements of hard rock, industrial metal and blues on their bedrock of grunge, Big Thunder creates music from the heart. “Personally, I don’t like music that is too flaunty and flamboyant,” Yue Yu (岳宇), founding member and frontman of Big Thunder, tells Temper, “I don’t want to make music that is superficial and not authentic.”
The Seattle sound refers to a subgenre of rock n’ roll that employs distorted and gloomy instrumentals with heart-wrenching and philosophically provocative lyrics.
Borrowing from punk rock, heavy metal and alternative rock, grunge rock and the fashion style it spawned both came out of the Seattle area in the late 1980s, just when it started to “[Smell] Like Teen Spirit.” #TemperTeachings
Big Thunder creates music that expresses human emotion, sentiments about society and its underbelly, and the personal life experiences of Yue Yu that we can all resonate with.
With two releases to their name, Big Thunder’s discography hails from a place of raw human anguish and perpetual soul-searching. This sonic introspection not only is conveyed in the lyrics, where concepts range from self-debasement to depression, but also in the instrumentals that can possess anything from a snarling industrial flair to a somber melody that makes you sink into a pure melancholy.
MUSIC AND FASHION
What color palette do you think compliments grunge? Muted greys, dark reds, white and black? Well, Big Thunder doesn’t think so. They are all about Hawaiian shirts and that bohemian chic — think bright pinks and purple gradient. “When I perform, I wear relatively bright clothing, which compliments whatever my bandmates’ are wearing. It [our clothes] shows our band’s characteristics,” Yue Yu asserts.
As far as Yue Yu is concerned his fashion sense as a means of self-expression is as important as making authentic tunes. “Fashion can help me express myself. This is without a doubt,” he proclaims, “it can highlight my individuality and my aesthetic.” The artist goes on to say that rock music and fashion are two sides of the same coin; “Music and fashion are inseparable!”
Formed in 2010, Big Thunder is an old hand in China’s underground rock scene whose ethos of making music for the sake of making music has stayed rocksteady throughout the last decade. Even with such a passion for music Yue Yu is still human and has had fantasies of stardom. “It would be BS [yes, Temper keeps it clean] for me to say I don’t want to be famous in the same way a soldier saying he doesn’t want to be a general,” he admits, “but it’s not really important. What is important is the process of making music and the hardships that come along with it…. Other things are not as important as music itself.”
Big Thunder is based in Beijing and, open-air music festivals aside, plays most of their gigs in the capital. Want to witness Big Thunder wear their hearts on their sleeves first-hand?
Big Thunder’s next show will be on July 2 at 魅Live in the city’s Xidan commercial area. Ticket information and the venue’s address are available via the picture below.
Why not? Sometimes the best way to understand your own mental anguish or to pacify your inner black pit of despair is by listening to music that matches the abyss of feelings. Big Thunder creates tunes that will pluck your heart strings and make you meditate on the depths of your humanity. Don’t let the simplicity of the lyrical syntax fool you. A Big Thunder tune is packed full of sentiment and philosophy. Sometimes you just need a little omphaloskepsis and to scream your heart out.