The past few days, the rumors and headliners are flying fast and loose on the Chinese Internet with regard to the potential lineup for August’s Shanghai Sonic. Yesterday the names bandied about included Muse, The Stone Roses, Aerosmith and Linkin Park. Today, another hypothetical schedule is already going viral, including Limp Bizkit and Korn, Avril Lavigne, John Legend and M.I.A. (twice in the same day, as a matter of fact). Although these speculations have created considerable excitement from music fans, we think that most of these early announcements should probably be taken with a grain (or a dish) of salt. Economically, it doesn’t add up (and others have chimed in to that effect). Most likely, the final Shanghai Sonic lineup will contain a few but certainly not all of the international names currently being mentioned, as well as some but not all of the domestic headliners. Regardless of how it all turns out in the end, we’ll be keeping an eye on the development of this festival.
If you’re in Dalian this weekend, peep at the Dusk Music Festival, happening on Saturday June 22. Taking place at a youth hostel supposedly on the beach, it’s being promoted by a collective of bars and entertainment professionals. The lineup includes Shanghai imports Duck Fight Goose, Pairs and R3; Beijing’s Skip Skip Ben Ben and Dalian’s own Doc Talk Shock.
Couple of bits and pieces leading into the non-weekend of Dragon Boat Festival:
Shanghai Sonic is looking more and more likely: produced by the promoters behind August’s Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo and Korea, the names floated around for Shanghai Sonic include Aerosmith, John Legend, MIA, Limp Bizkit (yup), Alt-J and Carly Rae Jepsen. The organizers have been telling local media, off the record, to save the weekend of August 17-18.
According to everyone including Metallica’s official website, tickets for the Shanghai show, scheduled for August 13, go on sale at 10AM local time on June 7. Reported ticket prices are 480, 980, 1280 and 1680 RMB.
For something new and different, our pals at Taihe Media are testing a new concept on the Chinese festival-going public. Taking advantage of a car- and outdoors-loving middle class, the open space in the outskirts of Beijing and gambling on the fascination/nostalgia associated with RVs (recreational vehicles), the Mi RV & Camping Festival is a week-long eclectic lineup of local bands, craft market, BBQ, film fest and even a “MLB-sanctioned” batting cage. Cool.
Perhaps surprising to some, the central Chinese city of Xi’an is once again becoming quite the destination for music festivals. Having been the site of a Strawberry Festival (Modern Sky) in 2010, the record label returns to the ancient capital the first weekend of June with another edition of Strawberry. Following that, the Summer Parade “Forests International Music Festival” will set up shop during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday break (June 11-12). The latter festival’s lineup includes regional indie favourites Deserts Chang (TW) and My Little Airport (HK) as well as mainland headliners Omnipotent Youth Society, Snapline and MC Shitou. For pop fans, Della Ding (丁当) somewhat inexplicably headlines the second day.
We last wrote about Xi’an when the Zebra Festival that was supposed to be there was cancelled in the lead up to the 2012 transition. However, the return of festivals to the city this year, as well as global brands such as adidas looking to put on events in the city, means that Chengdu and Wuhan may soon have company in the exclusive “hip second-tier city” club.
Editor’s note: This review of David Guetta on the Great Wall comes from a Radar pal who chooses to remain anonymous. He was part of the expat exodus to Juyongguan Great Wall this past weekend to see the tech-house ‘legend.’
When I was younger and more into music than I am today, I swore to myself that that I wouldn’t be one of those people who thought that “their” music is better than what the “kids” listened to. This is the lesson that one draws from hating baby boomers. My own preferences ran to 70′s stadium rock, which is not the paragon of sophistication, but my adolescence coincided with Blink-182 and the Backstreet Boys. So I had to perform every acrobatic maneuver of logic afforded by a liberal arts education to convince myself that music by those guys were the latter-day cultural equivalents of Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, even though, well, they were not.
Which is why I am bewildered by how David Guetta was able to draw what seemed like many thousands of young expats to the Great Wall. First of all, did BLCU build like ten campuses without telling any of us? Did WAB (Western Academy of Beijing) and ISB (International School of Beijing) become much less selective? These are things that I don’t notice.
Second, I actually like electronica music. I went to Underworld concerts when I was in college, and I thought they were awesome. I also like French House, and was able to convince myself whenever Dimitri from Paris sampled 60′s lounge music it was somehow, like, influenced by Roland Barthes or something. Even nowadays when I hear Avicii sampling Etta James, I’m like nodding and smiling in the way that stupid people do in public lectures when they understand something.
However, every song I heard at the David Guetta concert seemed to have been engineered for dumb people to feel good. I don’t think David Guetta ever played a song all the way through. Maybe for copyright reasons he can only play the part he produced or something, but then the entire concert became a mash up of various choruses from pop songs, which when played over and over again, appear to be truncated mantras for simpletons. People got really excited every time the phrase “when love takes over” was played, but we never find out what happens when love takes over. Actually we do, we find out that when love takes over the concert ends, for David Guetta only played for like 45 minutes (inshallah). This caused great confusion for people who were used to encores, but nobody really cared. We realized that we were all at the Great Wall, it was dark and very far away from Spark (Ed.: nightclub of choice for fuerdai in Beijing).
This blog does a pretty good job of reviewing and complaining about music festivals happening in Beijing, Shanghai, and sometimes even other cities (by our tireless contributors). However, from an audience perspective, we have precious few gripes this year for 2 of China’s longest-running music festivals, Midi and Strawberry.
Your Radar correspondents, split between Beijing and Shanghai, attended the first day of Strawberry in Beijing, the third day of Midi in Beijing and day three of Strawberry in Shanghai. Miracle of miracles, there was beer for sale at Strawberry in Beijing. More importantly, it didn’t come in tepid cans out of a sketchy backpack. Danish beer juggernaut Tuborg claimed sponsorship duties at Modern Sky’s flagship festival, complete with VIP “pavilion,” microphone-toting MC and plenty of scantily clad Tuborg honeys. There are unsubstantiated rumors that the beer was only there the first day – can any of our readers shed some light on the situation? In Shanghai, we were pretty outraged to find out that Strawberry had (seemingly) sold exclusive alcohol rights to Bacardi. While this is good for the coffers in the short run and great for a brand to force everyone that wants to drink alcohol to drink theirs, it’s moves like this that destroy the long term credibility of a festival. It is simply greed that is driving a festival to deny consumers choice to make MORE money.
Usually strongest with their domestic lineup, Strawberry’s foreign headliners this year was Travis, they of the inoffensive between-Oasis-and-Coldplay Britrock persuasion; experimental pop savants Deerhoof; and Lenka, who played at Modern Sky 2011. We stayed for the entirety of Travis’ set, and enjoyed it very much, to our great surprise. There were no surprises in the domestic lineup, from New Pants taking the slot before the headliner for the second year in a row to Xie Tian Xiao’s 75th appearance to close out the festival (more on that in a bit), but the sheer number of people at the festival – the organizers stopped selling door tickets at 3PM – speaks to it’s success, even with single day tickets priced at 150 RMB.
Midi Festival took over the space at China Music Valley in Pinggu district this year, extending the festival’s eternal quest to find the furthest possible location whilst still remaining within Beijing’s municipal borders. In past years, the China Music Valley Festival (of Avril Lavigne and Jesus and Mary Chain notoriety) have installed two stages in the entire area, and alternated set times so that only one act would be playing at any given time. Midi brought 5 stages. The sonic experience was…interesting. However, the festival experience was not lacking. From 20 RMB beers and 5 RMB water to donuts that were “much better than they had to be” (quoth one enthusiastic festivalgoer), parking yourself in front of a stage and letting the music wash over you was not a bad way to pass the day. Continue reading
David Kay of Shanghai band Party Horse has an interesting piece in April’s That’s Shanghai about playing in Hangzhou’s West Lake Festival. From submitting lyrics to clear the censors to encounters with the polite hordes of fans from Hangzhou it’s a fun little read and nice insight into the experience of playing a non-tier one city festival.
Read the entire piece here.
Two weeks out from the May Festival (Labour Day) holidays and most of the major players have (finally) released their lineups and schedules. Hat tip to Beijing Daze for the Beijing events and dates.
With the absence of China Music Valley Festival (MIDI is taking over the space this year) and postponement and relocation of Dong Party aka Ditan Folk Festival to Beijing’s 2 Kolegas this year there is precious little innovation in the rest of the festivals’ lineups. Nonetheless, if the weather is nice the events are a good place to relax and catch up on the bands you always try to see, but it somehow never ends up working out during the year.
A post by Archie Hamilton (Split Works and China Music Radar laoban) on the occasion of Gang of Four performing in China, March 2013. Cross-posted from Tumblr.
JUE | Music + Art 2013 encompassed nearly 100 events across Beijing and Shanghai over the course of 17 days. It is both the most exhausting event and the most exhilarating event that Split Works puts on every year. It is also the reason why things have been quieter over at the Radar for the past few months. For the rest of the summer, we will be returning to our regularly scheduled programme of updates here on the blog. In the meantime, click through to read some of Archie’s thoughts on the performance of the legendary Leeds post-punk band Gang of Four during JUE 2013.
Here’s a little mix that Shanghai DJ collective Love Bang (aka DJs Heatwolves and Caution) put together on the occasion of JUE | Music + Art 2013. It contains tracks from almost all of the JUE 2013 artists, including but not limited to Grimes, Gang of Four, Frank Turner, AV Okubo, How To Dress Well, Cinema Soloriens, SLV and many more, interspersed with Shanghainese gems from the Super Ayi Cleaning Team.
The mix is loaded up onto the official JUE 2013 Morning Tears souvenir USB stick, which is 50 RMB with all proceeds going to official charity partner Morning Tears. The USB is 4 GB and also comes with JUE posters, MVs and lots o’ love from the whole festival team.
Peep at the track listing below and stream the whole thing from Soundcloud.
1. BAWANG Intro
2. Gang of Four – “Outside The Trains Don’t Run On Time”
3. AV Okubo – “Old Game”
4. Frank Turner – “Four Simple Words”
5. Let’s Get Weird and 黑暗 with 排球女将
6. Cinema Soloriens – ??? ripped from YouTube
7. Zhongshan Park – “Wut R Treats?”
8. AM 444 – “Interloop 2″
9. Grimes – “Vanessa”
10. Downstate – “Mist”
11. Ital – “Dub Me for Tonight (Saviour’s Love Megamix)”
12. HONEY, 蜂蜜!
13. Grimes – “Genesis”
14. Super Ayi Cleaning Team – “Tigerwoman”
15. S L V (Downstate & Hamacide) – “Toi”
16. Acid Pony Club – “P.O.P – Scratch Boom”
17. Little Yellow Bird Gonna Help You Out
18. How To Dress Well – “Lover’s Start”
19. WUT DID YOU STEAL??
20. How To Dress Well – “You Won’t Need Me Where I’m Goin’”
21. Kikuyu – “2 Appointments (Super Ayi 阿姨机器人 Vocal Remix)”
22. SHANGHAINESE SIGNOFF, 再见