This just in from our friends at Beijing Gig Guide – playing this year at the InMusic Festival, aka Zhangbei, aka that festival that’s pretty much in Mongolia, are Spiritualized and Orbital. Other announced international headliners include Joyce Jonathan (France), Linkoban (Denmark) and Joanna Wang 王若琳 (Taiwan). On the domestic side, they’ve booked Tang Dynasty, Brain Failure, Queen Sea Big Shark, Miserable Faith and A-BOYS, with many more to be added, we’re sure.
InMusic has a history of booking good acts – see Little Dragon and Tricky in ’09, CocoRosie and Killing Joke in ’10, Tricky (again) in ’11 – and sparse attendance. We’ll be curious to see if the 1-2-3 punch of Orbital (EDM kids), Spiritualized (space rockers, Brit fetishists) and Joanna Wang (pop lovers) will finally draw the crowds out to Mongolia Hebei.
Last weekend, Zhangbei hosted the 3rd installment of their InMusic Festival. We’ve been somewhat scathing of the festival to date, citing poor artist facilities and general disorganization, but we are more than happy to be proved wrong: where we thought that the difficulties associated with getting to and from the grasslands and of course the lack of customer facing facilities would eventuate in the festival fading away, this year’s heavily Beijing-centric lineup seems to have brought the masses. We weren’t there this year unfortunately, but we’ve heard from several sources that there were between 50-100,000 people up in Hebei for the weekend, with perhaps 40,000 tickets sold.
If it’s a review you’re after, then James Tiscione does a great job over at the Global Times – his review veers from praise to irritation and back again, but the key for us is encapsulated in the conclusion:
Overall, Zhangbei had somewhat cleaned up it’s act – the grass was longer thanks to recent rains, organizers offered a huge food court that was mostly chuanr, 10-yuan beer, and squadrons of young volunteers trying to pick up after careless fans. But the music, and the passion it awoke, is what distinguished this year’s Zhangbei.
It seems that the festival organizers concentrated more on marketing the event to the Hebei massive, rather than trying to get Beijingers to leave the comfort of their city and the strategy certainly seemed to work. Let’s hope for more success stories as some festivals reach a kind of maturity…
With 3 weeks to go, InMusic Festival announces it’s lineup. Lots of biggish, popular Chinese artists (Xu Wei, Zhang Zhen-Yue, Wang Feng), but most interestingly, Tricky is returning having headlined in 2009 alongside Ill Nino, the Latin Metal group who were here last year, Mix Market and Buffalo Rome who we haven’t heard of. Check out the full lineup for yourselves HERE.
Honestly, we weren’t expecting this one back this year, but they have a 10 year arrangement with the local Zhangbei government so expect this one to keep getting better.
The third edition of the InMusic Festival in Zhangbei have just announced their dates, 29-31 July. The festival has certainly had teething problems in the first two years – from a lack of hotel rooms for bands, to a paucity of food and drink options.
The concept is a great one – destination festivals are a vital part in the music festival spectrum – but it remains to be seen whether Chinese festival goers are yet prepared to travel far for their fix.
You can see reviews of InMusic 2009 HERE, 2010 HERE, and you can read about one band’s travails in 2010 HERE.
We hope that 2011 will be a great festival and that the organizers can put their experience to good use. It seems that the grasslands will be well prepared….
For those of you hoping to see the Concretes and Little Dragon in Hangzhou this weekend at the Big Love Festival, don’t hurry down. It’s officially postponed (most likely cancelled). It was being organized by the same people as inMusic, so it might be a fierce case of fatigue after that fest 2 weeks ago.
The inMusic festival has suffered over it’s short life span from many of the teething problems that music festivals have to endure. In this article (HERE), ex-Beijinger music editor Wang Ge tells his story of tour managing veteran UK rock band Killing Joke to the Mongolian grasslands and back. It’s a bit funny and a bit tragic, quite honestly.
at about 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, the British concert veterans put on a kick-ass show in the paralyzing cold for a 500-strong die-hard Chinese crowd
It’s been seven hours on the road, during which time I’ve listened to endless complaints, … The driver got lost, we sat through a major traffic jam at a tollgate, drove forever across the grasslands, slithered through a bog where we almost had to get out and push, and heard Coleman ask “HOW MUCH LONGER?” 11 times
A rule that we learned a long time ago – don’t try touring China on older, established bands unless they REALLY want to come, and even then, it’s a risk. The best line from the article was from one of the band members:
“It’s like the Czech Republic when it first came out of Communism,” Neven said to me while we were waiting at the hotel. “Everybody wants to do everything, but nobody knows how to do it. It’s a learning process.”
When applied to Chinese music festivals, never truer words spoken…
Last year, we had a reviewer up there. This year, we failed you, good people. However, China.org.cn stepped up to the challenge. You can find the full review HERE.
The article shows the discrepancy between organizer expectations of what a music festival here in China can deliver and the actuality. Pre-festival numbers of 200,000 people attending and 3,000 security guards gave rise to an actual attendance (estimated) of around 6,000 and general understaffing and disorganization. In fact, this review is typical of the comments we have seen coming out of festivals all over China.
This sudden rash of underfunded and terribly organized music festivals is giving a bad name to the good ones. Badly treated customers and bands will increasingly think twice about going to another festival, which is a sadness for the genuine people that are working hard and risking lots to make them happen.
Things have been going crazy on the festival front in 2010. After our prediction at the beginning of the year that governments would take a much closer look at the possibilities of hosting their own music festivals, we have the following
The festival in Mongolia’s grasslands is back. It will be over the same weekend as Fuji Rock in Japan (30/7-1/8) and although there are just Chinese bands on the bill at the moment, rumor has it that Panic at the Disco! and CocoRosie will be appearing. After the problems last year (lack of grass/ facilities/ subpar treatment of bands) plus the 4-7 hours drive to get to the festival, it will be interesting to see how people react to the festival this year. It’s definitely a cool place, so if you haven’t already, you should check it out
Suzhou’s Huli Festival
This has definitely been an up and down affair. Artists have been left in the lurch for an incredible amount of time, and so the offers must have been good (we can attest to the fact that they were). In any case, full fees have been received in advance, so we will be seeing Sinead O’Connor and Simple plan, alongside a host of Chinese stars: 张震岳(Chang chen-yue); 张悬(Deserts Chang); 黄家强(Wong Ka Keung Steve/ bass of famous HK band-Beyond); 许巍( Xu wei); 汪峰( Wang Feng); 郑钧( Zheng Jun); 张楚( Zhang Chu); 熊宝贝( Bear Babes-Tai wan Indie/folk band) 脑浊( Brain failure) 瘦人乐队( thin man/hard rock) 谢天笑( x.t.x)
It seems that the Hangzhou government have earmarked Hangzhou to be China’s capital of culture. Added to the Xihu festival that happened 2 weekends ago (we are awaiting a review from a reluctant contributor), the organizers of Inmusic will be organizing a “Big Love” festival there, the day after Chinese Valentine’s day (August 15-16), plus there will be another festival during the October Golden Week.
Naturally it was with a high degree of skepticism that the Radar greeted an announcement that the InMusic Magazine (formerly Rolling Stone China) crew were organizing a music festival. The first document we saw had Lou Reed and Tricky as headliners.
In China, most events of this scale are announced and then never happen. We expected this would be the same, particularly given that InMusic can barely publish a monthly magazine, no matter organize a multi-day, multi-stage festival with international caliber acts. Yet, being a supporter of the need for more successful festival events in China we were hopeful.