Recently in Chinese Music Category
Matthew Niederhauser (who you'll know from those famous shots of Chinese bands in D-22 and other excellent photography) and Zhang Shouwang (who you'll know for being the driving force of Carsick Cars) have put together a mixtape for Domus' city series. Naturally, it mainly focuses on bands from the capital, but there are a couple of non-Beijing acts on there too, including Duck Fight Goose. In fact, the DFG song is taken from their debut album Sports, released on Friday at Yuyintang, so if you haven't heard anything from the record yet, here's your chance to check out the track 'Golden Gate'. There's loads more great stuff on there too though, so check it out here.
I found myself in Yiwu on Saturday night (don't ask) and thus missed this little beauty, which was a shame. Not that I went without entertainment. I hadn't really planned it, but I found out that Top Floor Circus were coincidentally in town that night too and playing at a place called Gebi Bar so I got in a taxi and went hunting for it.
A little way out of the town centre, Gebi is a collection of former temple buildings with the largest converted into a bar and performance space. Small pavilions are located next door, but these days it's not quite as tranquil a place as it perhaps once was - especially when Top Floor Circus have packed the house out.
When I got there, they were already part way through their opening song, but they basically played all of their album 13 Songs and the crowd lapped it up. It was interesting seeing Top Floor Circus outside of their native Shanghai - I've always been curious about the reverence they largely receive in Beijing, despite being not only a Shanghai band but one that sings almost exclusively in the local dialect.
Despite singing in Shanghainese, Lu Chen spoke in Mandarin between songs and was careful to explain what they were about. Not all of the crowd understood Shanghainese, but many knew the songs regardless and certainly enjoyed the sentiment. Beside the pure linguistics, the band were just as entertaining as always. Lu said to me afterwards that he felt the venue was well suited to them as a band - just really straightforward and fun - and he was right. Mei Er got through three guitars (one his own, two borrowed) and Lu's mic kept breaking, but it didn't really matter, the crowd (many of them dressed in '你信不信，反正我信' t-shirts) loved every minute of it.
They capped it all off with an old favourite - GG Allin's 'Bite It You Scum' - and sent everyone home happy. It was one of the best gigs I've been to in ages.
I didn't make it to any festivals last weekend in the end, but I've spoken to a few people who did and the word is that there were a few problems.
Festivals in Beijing were subjected to an alcohol ban, though at least most of their line-ups weren't messed with (Avril Lavigne played to the apparently dusty, poorly laid out space at the Pinggu Festival at least). The same can't be said for the Nanjing Blossom Festival who had some overseas and China-based foreigner bands struck off the bill at the last minute. So last minute in fact that many of the bands had already travelled there and only found out when they arrived. UPDATE: Dan Shapiro of The Fever Machine and Morgan Short of Boys Climbing Ropes have more details on the problems at Blossom in the comments. Beijing Daze has more on events up north too.
Once again, Midi Festival must be shitting their pants right about now. They've got a big weekend lined up in Century Park and have a fair bit riding on Mr Big playing on the Friday night....
Since I posted about Strawberry being cancelled yesterday morning, a number of other sites have put up some more detailed information about what's happened. In summary, Modern Sky have blamed a thunderstorm effecting their power set up and said that the festival is 'postponed' not cancelled, though until when it's not clear. A far more likely explanation, and the one doing the rounds on Weibo and Douban before it gets deleted, is that the festival has been harmonised due to the mention of a certain
outspoken artist who's still missing economic criminal at last weekend's Zhouzhuang folk festival, also organised by Modern Sky. Finally, the organisers of the electronic stage at Strawberry, STD, have relocated their line-up to MAO Livehouse on Saturday and LUNE on Monday and Tuesday.
Organisers of the Nanjing Blossom Festival and Midi Shanghai must be a tad worried right about now, but they're still going ahead at the moment. Don't expect there to be any 'text your message to the big screen' initiatives going on though or anything that might even remotely encourage freedom of speech.
If you were planning on heading to the Strawberry Festival Suzhou this weekend, think again. There are rumours all over Douban that the festival has been cancelled and various sources have confirmed that this is the case, with the decision apparently taken late last night. The festival, whose slogan of 'You say hello, I say goodbye' now seems rather unfortunate, has yet to make an official announcement, but it seems that will follow later today once they've managed to inform everyone on the organiser side - as of this morning, news was still filtering through to the various parties involved. No reason has yet been given for the cancellation. More news as and when it comes through.
In case you haven't noticed, festival season is nearly upon us. May 6th sees Midi Festival come to Shanghai for the first time, with a three day event in Pudong's Century Park. Although it's notable for being Midi's first appearance in Shanghai (after years of trying), it's also worth highlighting that they've teamed up Animals Asia Foundation to promote awareness of the appalling practice of 'bear farming' in China - hence the bear on their posters.
Midi are aiming to raise awareness of the issue, which sees caged, diseased and dying bears subjected to horrific processes to extract their bile, which is subsequently used in a range of products in the country. Under the slogan 'Protect the Moon Bear, oppose live bear bile products', Midi is backing the AAF's anti bear farming initiative, which you can read more about here.
In addition to the rocking bear on their posters, Midi will be educating festival goers on the issue with the aim that public outcry against the practice will mean the government is forced to act to ban it. On a broader level, it's great to see Midi using their music festival platform to support such an important cause and hopefully it'll strike a chord with the festival audience over the next few weeks and help contribute to a more widespread awareness of animal welfare in this country.
Not content with organising Strawberry in Beijing and Suzhou this May, Modern Sky are putting on a folk and poetry festival in the water town of Zhouzhuang (about 90 minutes from Shanghai) on the weekend of 23-24 of April. There'll be two stages and performers will include Xiao He, Zhou Yunpeng, Hanggai, Zhang Weiwei and Zuoxiao Zuzhou.
Here's the full line-up: