The deja-vu encountered by looking through the Modern Sky Festival’s early-October 2013 lineup inspired the penultimate post by the now-done-with-Tumblr Slink Rat. It’s a deja-vu this blog has also had, and one that all fans of yaogun and observers of China’s growing festival scene should, too. In short, Slink Rat questioned why, with as genuine a curiosity as one might intuit from a blog post, it is the case that the same bands play the festival every year. To that we might add the concern that this is happening across the festival landscape in a way, Slink Rat points out, that wouldn’t fly elsewhere.
…And The Nominees Are…
The China Rock Midi Awards are set to be handed out this weekend, stepping up the proceedings by having the event at M-Space, the club attached to Beijing’s MasterCard Center, the arena formerly known as Wukesong and kitted out post-Olympics by international massive sports and entertainment presenters AEG. Big ups to Rock in China for their breakdown of the details, and history of the event and its producer. In Red Rock and here on this blog, I’ve moaned about the Awards in the past, but I’m optimistic, as I mentioned in my first post in this two-part series.
Alas, let’s turn to the nominees, which, you’ll note, line up almost exactly nothing like my picks. Almost. So I’m re-picking the folks I’d like to see win…
Confucius Say: Horns up!
There has been a lot of talk of China’s soft-power muscle-flexing, with a Confucius Institute for every college, city and town in the world (and let us take a moment to marvel at the CI English website address: english.chinese.cn – and spanish.chinese.cn, or russian.chinese.cn). Even a quick look at the offerings of these Institutes reveals a China that barely resembles that which exists now: Acrobatics, the traditional comedic stylings of ‘cross-talk,’ kung-fu, ancient scroll paintings, traditional opera. I can sympathize, to a point: After all, it’s what people assume China has to offer. I’ll never forget that one jackass French viewer who, during industrial-rock act Tongue’s first French set, in Rennes back in 2004 (go 86/33 Link!), shouted, inexplicably, “Jackie Chan!” I was also asked, during one of Subs’ Nordic tours, if the band hung out much with the 5, 6, 7, 8’s, the Japanese band then in vogue, thanks to Quentin Tarantino and a guy named Bill.
But hard rock is starting to find its way into soft power. While Beijing-based Mongolian folk act Hanggai – who, I am ecstatic to once again announce, are coming not just to my hometown, Toronto, but to my danwei, or work unit, Harbourfront Centre, for our Planet IndigenUS festival in early August – have received governmental support for tours to North and South America.
The biggest governmental headbang thus far in yaogun’s history sees the Ministry of Culture sending three Chinese heavy metal bands to metal’s biggest event, the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. The China Daily, for one, was happy about this latest trend.