The Midi Music Festival has become a real cultural phenomenon, drawing young people from all over the country and giving me increasing hope that the still-marginal rock culture has reached critical mass and momentum. This year, I hear there were 80,000 people on the first day, and the line for tickets was nearly a kilometer long, wrapping from the east gate of Haidian Park all the way around the north side. Organizers did a terrific job of crowd control and security, but I still worry whether the auhorities will squash the thing next year--especially if there's as much dope-themed stuff for sale as I saw this year:
With our Ayi on break, I've been on baby duty and couldn't get out to Midi for any of the other days--just Friday, the day we played. I hear Hate Space from Denmark played an amazing set on the first night--pure Thrash, delivered good 'n tight. Friday didn't see nearly the crowds as the first day, but still quite a good turnout. I got there just after noon and was greeted by a busload of fans from Tianjin, all decked out in their Metal gear. They even had an authentic, slutty-looking Metal chick in tow. One can never have enough of those, you see. I met people who'd come from as far as Chongqing for the show.
I managed to catch Robert Gonnella's new band, Raging Mob, on the Gibson Guitar stage just before we went on. Robert lives in Beijing and organizes a soccer league here, but he's still the lead singer of the vintage 80s German Speed/Thrash Metal band Assassin, which he tells me played some shows in Russia just last week. Raging Mob's quite good, and Robert's an excellent performer.
The guy with me in the picture below is called Chen Chao, and he says he came all the way from Huangshan in Anhui just to see Chunqiu. You can see him front and center in the crowd shot I snapped as we were setting up, second pic below. I could see him singing along with every song. After doing several interviews and a whole lot of mugging for pics with fans, I spoke with Chen, who paid the band a very high compliment: saying that when he listens to us he feels like he's not just listening to music, but partaking of a distinct form of culture. Very kind indeed!
The amazing thing was that all the bands were actually ahead of schedule: Usually, you get rushed on and off stage, but on Friday at Midi in Haidian Park, there was ample time, and organizers actually had us add two songs to our originally planned set.
It felt really good. I was enjoying watching the audience so much--they successfully crowd-surfed a guy who must have weighed 140 kg, and moshed in a manner most joyous--that I found myself forgetting to move around on stage at various points.
Chunqiu will be playing a zhuanchang (a nice long headlining show with only one other support act) in Beijing some time in June. Watch this space for details.