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