Chinese Music: August 2009 Archives

Subs' Kang Mao is angry

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kang mao.jpgRemember how I had a few gripes and grumbles about the InMusic Festival? Turns out things weren't all that great backstage either. China Music Radar alluded to the poor treatment of acts in their excellent review of the festival and now Subs' lead singer Kang Mao has posted an entry on her blog where she says, "I didn't eat a single mouthful of food, I was too scared to use the toilet and I didn't dare drink the water" (maybe that explains why Fu Han from Queen Sea Big Shark had to go on a beer run) - plus they've still not been paid. However, that's not what's really got her angry. Indeed, though she says conditions were far from ideal, Kang praises the sound set-up on stage (in general it was really good from the audience point of view too), says that she felt really comfortable up there and that overall she had a good time. You can see some video of the band's performance in this post, also on her blog.

So what's really wound up China's leading lady of "spunk rock"? It's the press and their coverage of the festival.

In her post, "I don't want to talk about Zhangbei", she writes of how, in the week leading up to the InMusic Festival, the media and public opinion had been whipped up into a frenzy about the event and what it meant for Zhangbei, a poor town in a remote part of the country, and its government. There was a lot of attention in the press in the run up to the festival talking about what a momentous occasion this was for a town that had only received press coverage in the past when it was struck by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in 1998. Some of this hyperbole came from the organisers, naturally trying to promote their festival, some of it came from the local government - essentially saying "look, we may be just a poor backwater town but look at the great music festival we're putting on." It's hardly surprising that the local government and the organisers wanted to attract more people to their event, but Kang's real fire is trained on the reporters who regurgitated these lines, compared the festival to a certain American one that took place 40 years ago this summer and contributed to "a media and public opinion frenzy with discussion groups on the topic growing and growing."

Video: Xiao He live at Yuyintang

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See for yourself what I was talking about with all the sampling and looping etc in this video of Xiao He performing live last night at Yuyintang. Sorry if it gets a bit shaky in places, I was trying to hold the camera up over people's heads to get a clear view but my arms got tired. Aww.

InMusic from way out there

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InMusic.jpgWhen I told a friend last week that I was going to the InMusic Festival on the grasslands of the Hebei/Inner Mongolia border region, their response was "that place is really remote - I hope you find it ok." They weren't kidding. From Shanghai, it took a combination of sleeper train, two buses and a taxi to reach the site out in the middle of the grasslands. But then, that was kind of the point - this was supposed to be a festival in the wilderness.

It took us a lot longer to get there than expected and as a result I missed most of the first day and was already heading back to Beijing when the bands started on the last day. In between, it was generally a good experience though and the organisers can't really be blamed for poor transportation planning on my part.

Here's a quick run down of some highlights and some lowlights together with a whole load of photos: 

A little fest on the prairie

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I spent the weekend at the InMusic Festival on the grasslands of Hebei province. Or rather, I spent the weekend travelling to and back from the InMusic Festival on the grasslands of Hebei province - the festival site was pretty remote. Anyway, a proper post on it all will come soonish, but for now, here's a video of Re-TROS performing on the opening night. For some background to the festival check out this post and this video on China Music Radar.

Incidentally, a little bit of pop trivia for you: according to this article, Re-TROS's Hua Dong was once a fellow student of Kanye West while the latter had a brief stint in Nanjing while his mother taught at the university there. You can read an interview I did with Mr West where he talks about his time in China here.
Carsick-Cars-001.jpgAt least that's what Mick Jagger believes. Mick Jagger, university student in Shanghai incidentally, not Mick Jagger, frontman of The Rolling Stones. Mick makes his bold statement in the most recent column from Alex Hoban on The Guardian who writes mostly about the Japanese music scene (a massive thank you to Suzy for flagging this up for me). The other week when PK14 and Carsick Cars hit the Dream Factory with These Are Powers, Hoban was there and his Turning Japanese column has therefore turned Chinese for the week.

Before going any further, check out his article here: 'Turning Japanese heads to China: The Shanghai scene'. You might also want to have look at my review of the same night here.

When I saw the title, my first thought was how refreshing it was to have someone in a Western newspaper write about the Shanghai scene instead of the Bejing one. When international newspapers cover the Chinese music scene, they invariably talk exclusively about the capital and often just about Carsick Cars - other cities don't get a look in.

Alas, before you even get to the text in Hoban's piece on the Shanghai scene, there's a big photo of... Carsick Cars. By the second paragraph it becomes clear that they, together with PK14, are the focus of the piece. That's Carsick Cars from Beijing and PK14, once of Nanjing but now essentially part of the capital's scene too. Oh.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Chinese Music category from August 2009.

Chinese Music: July 2009 is the previous archive.

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