First the good news: The Midi Music Festival is going Green. and Peaceful. Beijing's marvelous annual band blowout, which takes place from May 1 to 4 this year in Haidian Park, will be working closely with the global environmental organization to promote green consciousness.
Sze Pang Cheung (a.k.a. Kontau, on the left), who has headed up communications in China for Greenpeace for the last four years or so, and Fish Yu, outreach campaigner, came by the Ogilvy office today to give me the low-down on what's happening with Midi. They'll have a booth at the festival, and will debut an environmental doc called "The Planet," shot by big-name European filmmakers and featuring interviews with some serious environmental heavyweights. They've also listed 10 or so main stage bands and half the bands on the secondary stage to do short environmental spots that will be shown during breakdown/setup between bands. And they're bringing Dave Stewart, formerly of the Eurythmics, out to Beijing for the festival. He'll be busting out some old Eurythmics hits, I'm told.
I gotta say, these Greenpeace guys not only dress the part, but they practice what they preach: When the tea lady came into the meeting room with paper cups, Fish quickly asked her to bring ceramic ones--which you see before them above--instead. Respect. They're very cool guys who are obviously committed to their cause, and I'm hoping to help them out however I can. Some years back I spoke with Greenpeace's international director Gerd Leipold here in Beijing, and he impressed me, frankly, with his embrace of globalization, his pragmatism, and his PR savvy.
He comes from the PR world, actually, if I recall. (Correction: I recall incorrectly, as Kontau tells me). Same is true of Kontau: He really has his head around marketing.
Okay, so now the bad news: My damned band won't be playing at Midi this year. Not on either stage. For the first time in years. It's our own fault, too, because 1) we didn't sign up because a certain Yunnanese bandmate of mine couldn't tell us by the deadline whether he was coming back from Kunming in time for Midi, and 2) because a certain high-ranking Midi School official (hint: he has the same name as my wife) told me when I called him today to see whether I could wheedle Chunqiu's way onto the roster, if only on the secondary stage, that he thinks we ought to lose our singer because his voice lacks that leather-lunged liliang that Metal singers are supposed to have. Fuckity-fuck fuck fuck. Dave Stewart's looking for some Chinese musicians to help him out on stage; maybe I'll put my hand up to play bass for him. Admittedly, I was no big fan of the Eurythmics, though I do love Annie Lennox's voice, and songs like "Who's That Girl" and "Here Comes the Rain Again" had lovely melodies despite the New Wave synth I so loathe.