The urban environment is more than simply a setting that contains the regular pop shows found in various public spots in the city of Wuhan in China. Instead, the performances are formed from the sounds and other material conditions of their situation. Their sustainability as sources of income for performers and organisers, I argue, relies on a synergy between the acoustic qualities of the music and the wider sound environment, including in senses that draw upon the particular physical geography of this river city. Zooming in to look at individual street performance venues reveals also that different layouts are associated with characteristic patterns of audience behaviour, and there are links between these patterns and contrasting modes of social engagement. These modes, in turn, are significant in how singers negotiate legitimacy in their identities as performers, with different material circumstances and wider cultural perceptions of street performing in China shaping the struggles and successes of the group whose fortunes I follow in this article.
Horlor, S. (2020). Chinese Street Pop and Performing with the Urban Environment. Etnografie Sonore/ Sound Ethnographies, 2(1), 39-68