So, the results of the third annual rock awards, hosted by Midi Productions, the music school/company behind the eponymous festival, are in. See below, and this post by Beijing Daze, from whence the list comes, for the award winners.
What is of interest — given the outcomes, one of the only things of interest — is this article here. Actually, it’s less an article than a slide show, but the key is where the article/slide show is: On the website of Xinhua, China’s official news agency. That slideshow appears on the agency’s English site; on the Chinese side of things, this article is titled “The Third Midi Rock Awards: The Road from Non-Mainstream to Anti-Mainstream”. If you can pull your eyes away from the scantily-clad ladies beckoning from the margins (as you note the irony that sees the Official News Agency for the nation that tends to get most riled up about content too spicy for surfers splash just that very content across its pages), you will learn of the hope that the writer and judges and yaogun world has for the future of the music, and of the music’s shortcomings. Thus, has one of the goals of the awards been achieved: If the idea is for an awards show like this to enlighten the rest of the country to yaogun’s existence, coverage in an outlet like Xinhua is a small victory. It took several years for the mainstream Chinese press to acknowledge the existence of Midi’s festival, while its awards were quickly reported on. You can certainly chalk it up to the recent increase in media-savvy on the part of Midi, but it’s also a sign that things are changing in the world outside.
Another noteworthy factoid concerns Ordnance, the winner for Best Hard Rock Band (despite being a metal band). The recognition comes despite the fact that their second album, Rock City, was banned — albeit nine months after it was released — and in the wake of the ban, performed less on major festival stages than in the past. The band, who is worthy of — and will receive, mark my words — a profile at a later date, has since tweaked their Chinese name to near-homonyms of the original characters, signifying, surely, the effects of that ban. Their new tunes, which were included in the judges’ materials, worried me, with the creeping ’emo’-or-whatever-you-call-that-Nickelbackian-moan, but it was great to hear the recordings kick off with a full-on straight-up version of “The Internationale”, particularly after the past few years. Though they took home the prize and were invited to perform, they didn’t (and were replaced by the amazingly photogenic and rip-roarin’ Voodoo Kungfu). The way I see it, the award is as much about recognizing their musical skills as it is the efforts of Liu Lixin, guitarist and rasta-esque almost-too-happy-go-lucky-to-be-a-metal-guy man behind not only the band, but Club 13, one of Beijing’s only true yaogun institutions, and Dime Records, a metal label whose stable represents the next generation.
In the wake of the third Midi Awards, your blogger is left with a combination of frustration and zen-like calm: The former comes from the hope that things might, this year, be different; the latter from the knowledge that things on this front move glacially, if at all, and there’s no point in hoping. The former outweighs the latter, though, in the end: I, like all good yaogunners, expect more, and continue to hope. It’s a disappointment in which I know I’m not alone, and it is that that hope for a brighter future that keeps things, well, “interesting”.
As reported by Beijing Daze (which has links to most of the artists), the winners are:
Best New Band: Steely Heart
Best Album Artwork Design Award: Pet Conspiracy “Pet Conspiracy”
Best Instrumental Performance: Ji Yuan (guitarist for Air Carnival)
Best Hard Rock Band: Ordnance
Best Metal Band: Yaksa
Best Female Vocalist: Jiang Xin
Best Folk Musician: Hao Yun
Best Rock Song: Gala “The Purest Dream Chasing Heart”
Best Rock Album Year: Long Shen Dao “Hug”
Best Live Performance: Miserable Faith
Best Rock Band: Long Shen Dao
Best Male Vocalist: Zuoxiao Zuzhou
Contribution to Rock: Modern Sky [record label and rival festival producer]