It’s crazy to think of how much festivals have changed over the past decade in China, particularly in Beijing, where they have gradually disappeared. There was once a time where you could pop over to Haidian or Chaoyang Park and be in a mosh-pit without moments of making your way through the entrance. There was an intimacy; an appreciation for adventure; and a serendipitous sense of chaos that led to some wonderful and memorable situations. And it’s where, for a time, bands reigned supreme.
For instance take Black Rabbit Festival, the Chaoyang Sports Complex and its ‘too good to be true’ lineup – featuring the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Ludicrous and Jared Leto (before he became a cult leader). Yet it was always the local bands that drew my attention. Watching a band like Carsick Cars rip into their closer was simply to good to pass up. Even better, kidnapping or caretaking (as was my wife’s detail for the evening) Gold Panda afterward to Salud on Nanluoguxiang.
值得一提的是黑兔音乐节，朝阳体育中心及其令人难以置信的乐队阵容——包括Grandmaster Flash（闪耀大师）、Ludicrous和Jared Leto（在他成为邪魅神人之前）。然而真正能吸引我注意的一直都是本土乐队。欣赏一个乐队像Carsick Cars如此近的距离就是单纯而美好的过往。更妙的是，演出结束掳走（或者说安顿-我妻子那晚的分工任务）Gold Panda 去了南锣鼓巷的老伍酒馆。
Or take Modern Sky Festival in Haidian Park (before Strawberry Festival got too comfortable at Tongzhou Park) where Hedgehog blew my mind for the first time, charging through a set that ended with a smashed guitar being flung into the audience recklessly. Even better, turning a deflated Jagermeister beach ball into a cape and stalking the bassist from Mr. Turtle.
For a few years after I went to music festivals in Beijing religiously, relishing every act, detailing every band I wanted to check out, and getting a bit looser than usual. But nothing will beat those virgin festival experiences in the end. Age and fatigue will do that to you. So will over-commercialization and the industry not taking as many risks. As the saying goes – they don’t make them like they used to.