20 years ago, Wang Yue, Yilinna and Yang Fan of the band Hang on the Box made the Beijing punk scene an international topic, posing in Tiananmen Square for a February 1999 cover of American magazine Newsweek. Crouched under the headline “China: The Limits on Freedom,” the three teenagers were put forward as bold iconoclasts, the new face of alternative Chinese youth. Where are they now?
Bursting onto the male-dominated rock scene in 1998, Hang on the Box was a self-described “bitch-punk” band determined to break through the Beijing cultural underground’s glass ceiling. They quickly became an international sensation, signing with a Japanese record label and becoming one of the first Chinese bands to perform at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX. Their original members — singer Wang Yue, better known as Gia; Yang Fan, who started on drums and later moved to guitar, becoming the band’s principal songwriter; Yilinna, the band’s original bassist; and Shen Jing, aka Shenggy, who replaced Yang Fan on drums in 1999 — all remain active musicians and cultural influencers.
Here is an illustrated history of China’s female punk pioneers, excerpted from a forthcoming comic book by animator Krish Raghav and RADII Culture Editor Josh Feola.
Find more info on Krish Raghav and Josh Feola’s forthcoming illustrated history of Beijing underground music here.