Beijing is a hard place to do a festival these days. From beer bans to PSB frolics, China’s capital city is increasingly intolerant of music festivals. And so it is that Modern Sky move their signature festival out of Beijing for the first time. Modern Sky Festival 2011 will be held at the Huairou Ski Resort 3-5 October. It seems that the local government there has incentivised the move.
In May 2009, Midi Festival decamped from Beijing and set up shop in their traditional national holiday berth in a town in Jiangsu province called Zhenjiang. The festival was a success and was the first of many times over the last few years that China’s more famous festivals and festival organizers were invited to provincial towns to attract attention and tourism. We predicted this back in 2009 and so it has come to pass, with government funding making up the majority of the 100 or so festivals that have sprung up in the last couple of years.
Midi did it’s job pretty well, drawing a huge amount of attention to the town that was previously most famous for the manufacture of vinegar, with two pretty decent festivals by all accounts (we didn’t make it to either).
So we were surprised when Midi officially announced on Weibo yesterday that they wouldn’t be doing a 2011 version, despite the fact that all systems were go until a week ago. There is plenty of mud being slung on various Chinese SNS/ forums, and apparently Midi will make a formal announcement after their Rizhao festival in early August. Miserable Faith have made their thoughts plain on Weibo too. What have you heard?
Music Festival Madness: May Holiday Festival Weekend 2011
Perhaps to make up for a dearth of musical festivities elsewhere, Beijing municipality – because let’s be honest, most of these festivals were in locations much closer to Hebei than Tiananmen – managed to outdo itself with five major music festivals this May Holiday season, of which your intrepid Radar correspondents attended the “Big Three:” China Music Valley, MIDI, and Strawberry.
The newcomer to scene this year is China Music Valley, which featured a heavy-hitting, Western-music-centric lineup in the wild hinterlands of Pinggu District east of Beijing. Produced by Gehua-LiveNation and funded in large part by various levels of local and municipal governments, it resembled the first year of a festival. The two stages were set up right next to each other, so that performances were staggered between the two all day. Windstorms buffeted the valley venue which functions as a ski resort in the winter months. Day One of the festival featured Avril Lavigne, and she was obviously the main attraction to the festival-goers, approximately 90% of whom were locals. We met 14-year old girls who were dropped off by their parents, metal-and-Avril-loving young gentlemen from Changchun and many, many police and baoan, who ringed the perimeter of the festival grounds like menacing, confused tentpoles.
There was a time that this humble blog was one of the only places to access English language information about festivals in China. No more!
There is some great and in depth information on the Beijing festivals over at Beijing Gig Guide (Midi | Strawberry) and one of the most comprehensive lineup analyses of any Chinese festival over at GoChengdoo covering the Zebra Festival.
And for those of you to Google Translate, well, we’ve done it for you
Any real surprises, anything pushing the envelope? Well, the only significant addition to last year has been the addition of a significant Taiwanese segment. Apparently Modern Sky have joined forces with a Taiwanese cultural body to add 18 Taiwanese bands to the bill…
Strawberry Music Festival 2011 Announced new record height of 5 highlight
Strawberry Music Festival, the largest music festival will be held April 30 to May 2 in Beijing and Suzhou, the two also held, following the announced list of Suzhou, strawberries, the festival organizers recently announced the 2011 Beijing Modern Sky Music Festival full of strawberry list.Beijing 2011 Strawberry Strawberry Music Festival has the stage, love the stage, the overload stage, the stage of Taiwan, electronic stage, the 6 stage school stage, nearly 130 groups all kinds of artists at home and abroad gathered in Beijing strawberry, strawberry with 57 groups of Suzhou Artists , Strawberry Music Festival during May will be a total of more than 180 group / time artists participating in the exercise, indeed, a domestic record Music Festival participating artists.
A strange seating arrangement (thanks as always to the wonderful PSB), but by all accounts (a few first hand ones too), it was a special atmosphere with Dylan smiling throughout and even coming back for an encore. Shanghai on Friday night.
In May, Baidu will attempt to distance itself from the slings and arrows fired in their direction over recent years by launching Baidu Ting, a legitimate music streaming service, that will be supported by ad-revenue. The article doesn’t cover important bits and pieces, like how much revenue will be shared with the creators, and it doesn’t seem like the service has reached deals with the major international labels. It also doesn’t say if there will be a mobile element, but anything that publicly recognizes the problems of piracy and tries to address them, especially from a major player like Baidu is to be appreciated.
Tentatively titled Stereo Symphony On the New Long March, the roughly 75-minute film will feature footage shot around two New Year’s 2010 concerts Cui gave in December at Beijing’s outdoor Workers’ Stadium cut together with interviews with the rock legend and his fans.
Over at Beijing Daze, there is a small amount of doubt lingering over MIDI Festival 2011. Certainly we’ve heard a couple of reports that the sensitive spring that we are having might be putting spanners in the various MIDI works (and those of Strawberry too, truth be told). Of course, there were issues with nationalistic Japanese flag burning last October, something that the NY Times somewhat sensationally covered. We predicted this coverage might have repercussions, literally
Music Festivals in China are in no way a fait accompli – just because the government has been involved increasingly in the last couple of years, a single missive from the centre could put paid to festivals entirely. The first page of the article basically highlights every single anti authoritarian element of Midi in particular and seems to be excessively sensationalist. It strikes us that coverage like this might be a double edged sword for China’s festival industry.
In these Jazzy Mine times, perhaps the risks of backfire are just too great.
Fingers and toes crossed that the authorities don’t mess with the Beijing festivals again. Cancellations play havoc with the reputation of Chinese festivals both domestically and internationally.
According to a leaked Q&A, Strawberry Festival will continue its expansion, but rather than going to Xi’an as they did in 2010, Modern Sky will hold two events consecutively in Beijing’s Tongzhou Park (as usual) and a town called Wujiang, near Suzhou.
Midi and Modern Sky have been head to head in Beijing during the May holiday for the last 3 years. Now the South will experience the same as the two festivals happen an hour away from each other.
We’re pretty sure lineups will follow soon: the only confirmed act so far is Mr. Big for Midi.
Rock in China have put together a delightful little summary of China Rock’s 2010. From the many hundreds of festivals to the various key artist tours, the RIC boys have done a nice job. Check it out. Sadly, you’re going to need a VPN to see it in China.
So what was the big announcement made by Modern Sky last night? Well, for those of us expecting something genuinely groundbreaking, it was a little disappointing. As of last night, Modern Sky will be “integrating deeply” with the Beijing based label/ promoter/ artist management company Robust Husband (荔芙娱乐), otherwise known as Lao Xu’s stable of artists. Since Robust wasn’t really a record label, this seems like a pretty good strategic fit. All Robust bands (Omnipotent Youth Hotel, Brain Failure, Steely Heart, Candy Monster, White Eyes and Go Chic) will now be Modern Sky bands.
Although Modern Sky’s PR guy was at great pains to point out that this wasn’t a merger or monopoly, it certainly seems that Modern Sky will now control a lot of China’s indie music talent. Great for their festivals, not so good for anyone else’s. Still, there really isn’t a great deal of choice if you are an indie band in China looking for a label – Modern Sky, Maybe Mars, 13th Month…
Modern Sky is 13. They are having an anniversary party tonight in Beijing with the great and the good of the Beijing music scene. There are rumors going around that MS boss Shen Lihui will make a big announcement at the party.
Anyone care to guess what the announcement might be?