Kids Who Yaogun

Photo by Cai Ming

Midi ain’t just for young punks any more… Or: It is, as long as we tweak our definition of both “young” and “punks”

 In celebration of Children’s Day (June 1; yes, a bit late, but worth the wait, I’m sure), Midi, the people behind the eponymous rock and roll school in the suburbs of Beijing and those that brought you many-a music festival in various Chinese locales over the past dozen years, held a kiddie event in Beijing: Midi Kids.

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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: – and, or 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.

Photo by Albarnes,

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.

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Rock in Afghanistan, Via China

I’ve written/griped about rock in Afghanistan before (my gripe not with the music there but the coverage thereof), but I couldn’t resist revisiting the topic when I discovered that China Central Television has deemed the subject worthy of inclusion on their spine-tinglingly amazing program Culture Express. People talk about hurling things at the television, but I’d never felt that urge until I tuned in to CCTV-9, the Central broadcaster’s English channel, home to such amazingness as Yang Rui, who achieved recent noteriaty for his anti-foreigner/Semitic rantings on air and -microblog but who, throughout his time as host of Dialogue, never ceased to amaze me with his smarmy, clueless and downright patronizing-despite-a-lack-of-knowledge-on-any-subject-upon-which-he-was-interviewing-on ways.

(Note, please, the completely objective use of the word “amazing” above: “Amazing,” in this context, refers to the astonishment that this stuff is on the air; not ‘good,’ necessarily, but astounding in the way that only Chinglish and slick-TV-with-Chinese-characteristics can be. CCTV-9 has the amazing capacity to simultaneously inspire [you couldn’t make this stuff up, it’s so amazing!] and inflame [this crap has to stop!] that part of me wonders if it’d be better for the network to go off air or to be beamed into more homes across the globe.)

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Liang Heping


I was just informed that Liang Heping was involved in a serious car accident a week ago; details are difficult to come by, but as of June 29, he remains in hospital with serious lower body injuries.

Liang has been involved in yaogun for just about as long as anyone could have been. A member of the ‘house band’ that backed up all of the singers on that yaogunnily-fateful May day in 1986, it was technically Liang that introduced China to yaogun: He played the first notes of the Song That Changed Everything, Cui Jian’s “Nothing to My Name,” at the Let the World Be Full of Love concert.

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