The last few days have seen some pretty intense scrutiny laid at the feet of Shanghai’s burgeoning music scene. Shows raided, bands taken in for questioning (not sent to jail it is important to note) and festivals canceled. It’s been a tough week.
Some thoughts on this rainy Monday
the expat situation is pretty out of control in Shanghai. The Yongkang Lu // Yongfu Lu epicenters must be increasingly difficult to ignore
it’s a shame that the live music scene is the one being targeted, as it is really not a massive contributor to these issues, but we suppose things like the FCFCW gig night emanating from the live scene might push things further in that direction.
the band // licensing area is one that the authorities can readily control, as there are strict laws already in place. Plus, there aren’t massive hongbao to be earned from live houses, unlike the bars and clubs
rumor is that it’s a new police commissioner in Shanghai flexing some muscle, but we can’t really confirm // deny that one.
it could also be an annual crackdown leading up to the anniversary of a certain square
or it could just be the new blood in power and a change in policy. It is unknown if XJP and LKX are big fans of rock and roll
We just hope that this is another temporary blip rather than a permanent shift. It’s important to remember that we are foreigners in a foreign land, and that we should be extra careful with what we do and how we behave – it is very very obvious when expats behave badly. We tend to live in a bit of a bubble here, and we are still at a very early stage in China’s cultural awakenings. We need to walk before we can run and be sensitive to the local community, or else things could change very quickly for the worse for all of us….
The good people at Tenzenmen have posted up a handy guide to travel within China, which is particularly helpful for foreign acts looking to organise their own tours in the Mainland. Though promoters such as This Town Touring and our own Split Works play a major role in the tour circuit, Tenzenmen and others are setting out to prove that DIY touring is (almost) feasible in China as well. Good stuff; keep on fighting the good fight.
Read the entire article here. We love the TL;DR conclusion: “Use CTrip” [to book your internal transportation].
Shanghai and the China music scene is losing one of the most outspoken and interesting figures in Brad Ferguson as the Texan prepares to pack up and move back to Austin, TX. Brad’s been around since 2002, managing live venues, producing, building amps, managing and whatever else needed to be done. The man even has his own Rock in China entry. Alas the tides shift and Brad’s heading back, taking wife and Duck Fight Goose drummer Damen with him. Yuyintang is throwing him a goodbye party this weekend, with DFG and a sort-of reunion from Boys Climbing Ropes (G from X is Y on guitar).
If you missed it, here are some of Brad’s greatest hits. His unsmiling mien will be sorely missed.
Australian ‘micro-popper’ Kikuyu (aka Sez Wilks) hopped over to China for a 9-city tour earlier this fall under the auspices of the tireless This Town Touring folks. Her highly entertaining tour diary is now out, which we highly suggest you read. We sort of rode on her coattails earlier this month, posting a little photo of her set in a Shanghai clothing store to contrast the relaxed atmosphere elsewhere in China while Beijing was on lockdown for the big hair-dye-and-shoe-lifts party.
Two weekends ago, Expo Park (that hotbed of musical and cultural activity) played host to a new pop-heavy music festival, the White Music Festival. Produced by Taiwanese media company Idea Music, the festival boasted a credible lineup of stars including Hebe 田馥甄, Yoga Lin 林宥嘉, Joanna Wang 王若琳, Sammi Cheng 郑秀文 and many others.
Due in part to the pop-idol nature of the artists, the White Music Festival implemented a rather creative two-tiered ticketing system for “fans” and regular attendees, available through the traditional channels (Damai) as well as popular Chinese culture social-networking site Douban. The festival issued 500 fan tickets (粉丝票) at 688 RMB, which included general admission, fan area admission and a festival t-shirt. With a fan ticket, attendees were able to watch the set of their favourite performer from the fans-only area, for the duration of that artist’s set. Like an assembly line, fan ticket holders gathered at the entrance to the cordoned-off area before their idols were set to play. Festival staff ushered them in for the set, and then ushered them out again to make way for the next set of ticketholders. It was guaranteed placement in prime real estate for any ticketholder’s favourite performer. For the rest of the festival, attendees were welcome to enjoy the concerts from the general-admission areas.
For many local music fans, there still exists a vast divide between listening to their favourite artists in the comfort of their own home and braving large, pushy crowds at arena concerts and music festivals. But Chinese fans are also some of the most dedicated and “nao can” (“brain-damaged”) fans of pop idols. Though Radar compatriots Split Works and Wooozy do not usually traffic in Mando- and Cantopop stars, we think that the idea of a special fan ticket, and area for fans is a pretty interesting concept. The overall experience is augmented for all parties involved: fans get to see their favourite stars up close, the performers have the satisfaction of singing to their biggest supporters, and the promoters engender goodwill amongst their audience (and make some extra $$$. A regular presale ticket for the festival was 180 RMB and 250 RMB at the entrance).
Things have been relatively quiet over at the new LOgO in Shanghai for a while now, but now via Luwan Rock and Kungfuology we’ve learned that it’s closed down for good.
We have a feeling that many more tears were shed over the closing of the old LOgO over on Xingfu Lu than will be for the perhaps-demise of the new incarnation. Located on leafy, fancy Sinan Lu instead of in the middle of Shanghai’s beloved F-visa ghetto, far (enough) away from everything except for a trusty Lawson’s and plagued with all the sound issues of the old venue meant for very empty nights unless a big show was in town.
All joking aside, 2012 has seen many casualties in the live music department. The cancellation of Caliban’s China tour is only the latest in a long string of postponements, reschedulings and cancellations which have ranged across genres and cities in China. The largest of course have been the ongoing lack of large outdoor festivals, for somewhat obvious reasons that involve the number 1 and 8 and the month of October. Just off the top of our heads, there won’t be a Black Rabbit, Kama Love, Music Funhill or Midi Rizhao this year. Both Megadeth and Caliban have announced the cancellation of their China tours and no murmurs from the top brass at Modern Sky regarding the traditional October festival. The only large scale music festivals happening in the near future are either in third-tier locales (Qingdao, Guiyang), have a truly staggering amount of local government investment (Max Star), or both (Inter City in Qingdao). As the time of increased political sensitivity draws nearer, we’re both curious and apprehensive to see exactly how cultural activities will adapt to the (hopefully temporary) period of increased scrutiny.
In the meantime, we leave you with this entry from Shanghai’s very own GIF meme Tumblr. We’re not really sure whether to say to its author “Thanks for your support” or “Haters to the Left,” but either way, GIFs could totally create world peace.
In Shanghai Jinshan this weekend is the latest addition (and edition) of the Zebra Festival, the “Channel Young Zebra Music Festival” or 星尚热波音乐节. Shanghai music fans will probably remember that last year’s festival was postponed and then rescheduled due to Typhoon Muifa but by all accounts and purposes went off without a hitch the weekend after with headliners such as Edison Chen, MC Hotdog, Joanna Wang 王若琳 and Xu Wei.
Originating in Chengdu, Zebra is back again this weekend on the Jinshan beaches for what we hope to be an equally successful and typhoon-free weekend of live music. This year, the regional lineup boasts Show Lo 罗志祥, Qu Wanting 曲婉婷, Aska Yang 杨宗纬 and Stanley Huang 黄立行; international acts include Kite (Sweden), Exile Parade (UK) and Yoko Yazawa (Japan) and local bands Nova Heart, The Mushrooms and more.
Full lineup and schedule here. If you read Chinese, peep at the cooperation between the festival and Taobao’s new celebrity stores initiative here. Activities there include a battle of the bands, beauty contest and suggested items to bring to the festival. Cool stuff, guys.
Editor’s Note: Department of Shameless Self-Promotion, Population: Us. As many of the readers of the blog know, as Split Works we are co-producing Black Rabbit Music Festival.
After the smashing success of last year’s Black Rabbit Music Festival, event co-producers Taihe Live and Split Works are incredibly excited to formally announce that the festival will be returning for a second year. Happening in October in Shanghai, we can’t reveal the artists coming for Black Rabbit Music Festival 2012 just yet, but rest assured that they are even bigger than last year’s lineup of Ludacris, 30 Seconds to Mars, Hebe, PK 14, Yellowcard and more. We’ll leave it up to you to contemplate the possibilities.
In the meantime, re-live the magic with the official 2011 Black Rabbit Music Festival wrap video, and follow Black Rabbit on Facebook, Twitter, Douban and Weibo for all the latest updates, lineup announcements, ticketing, venue, prizes and much much more.
Every year June 21st is “Fête de la Musique,” founded in France in 1982 and now celebrated in cities worldwide. This year sees the day of music come to Beijing for the first time, with performances by local and expat musicians all around the city. Punk heroes SUBS headline the event at MAO Livehouse, with 30 other bands playing in 15 venues across the Gulou neighborhood of the city. Every single performance is free and we tip our hats to the organisers for putting together the event AND keeping everything literally within walking distance.