Beijing’s music festivals reach the point of supersaturation on the Mayday long weekend. Whether you’re up for traditional folk music, electro-dance-punk or grunge rock, these festivals will have something for you. This is the chance to sink into the pulse of China’s music scene; mix with music geeks, curious spectators, metal-heads, and omnipresent cool kids.
And the Mayday long weekend is only the ecstatic beginning of a month where the music refuses to stop.
Basking on the outskirts of Beijing, Modern Sky’s Strawberry Festival has proven its pull with solid lineups, decent organization, and an excellent festival atmosphere. With an excessive nine stages, there’ll be no shortage of entertainment; though there will inevitably be regrets about missing so-and-so because you were busy watching so-and-so at the main stage.
Alt-rock’s Blonde Redhead is the headliner from New York, returning to rock their Asian fan base with their balance of dream pop and noise rock.
Meanwhile Chinese artists like Carsick Cars, Hedgehog and Xie Tan Xiao will exemplify the meaning of Chinese rock. Electro flavours will be well-supplied by acts like Pitchtuner, Queen Sea Big Shark, and DJ Spooky.
While music is definitely the focus, Strawberry Festival will also be the place for people-watching. It won’t be high-fashion, but it’ll be entertaining. Even hat-wearers will prioritize their hair.
Apr 29-May 1
Tongzhou Canal Park
With a history of focusing on metal and hard rock acts, Midi continues to keep rock and roll at the forefront. Bands like Brain Failure and Subs remind crowds that despite the GDP, China still has much angst to voice. This may be underlined by a performance of China’s godfather of rock, Cui Jian, amazingly just announced.
Hip hopper Yasiin Bey (the artist formerly known as Mos Def), will tackle politics in his own way. Yasiin Bey was one of the first artists to sing “socially aware rap music”, which contrasted with the violence of gangsta rap, popular at the time. He is credited with two of VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop.
The festival is moving out to Shunyi district this year, where its four stages (named after different dynasties) will loosely focus on different flavours of rock and electronica.
Apr 29–May 1
Shunyi Olympic Park
3.Ditan Folk Festival
Keeping it real with the singular focus of one stage, the Ditan Folk Festival will also be a more chilled out festival where attendees will soak in sunshine while basking in waves of acoustic vibrations.
Though Ditan has less hype factor than Midi and Strawberry, there’s no denying its downtown pull. Bands like Buyi, Shanren and Xiao He will still get kids off their blankets to bounce in front of the stage.
Apr 30-May 1
4.China Music Valley Festival
Last year, this Pinggu festival made a strong impression by getting Avril Lavigne on centre stage. This year, the festival continues to impress by working the UK connections to unbelievably draw in the newly reformed Jesus and Mary Chain. Yes, Jim and William Reid are on speaking terms again, and are willing to show Beijingers how their crystalline melodies laced with feedback changed the face of the music industry back in the late 80’s.
The UK contingent is heavy, including soul songstress Joss Stone and Britrock darlings Friendly Fires, White Lies and Glasvegas. Local it-kids Nova Heart will push their brand of electro dance, while others like Wang Feng do the Chinese Rock thing.
The two-hour trek out to Yuyang Ski Resort for the show may build up unnecessary amounts of anticipation, but it’s still a lot easier than getting your visa to England. It’s likely that the show will be worth the trip out.
Yuyang International Ski Resort, Pinggu
Price – TBA
5.INTRO Beijing Electronic Music Festival
Electronic music continues to grow in China, as demonstrated by this day fully dedicated to DJs and electronic artists. After a start-up year which overdosed on minimal tech, the festival has begun embracing the full spectrum of what electronic music is.
Perfectly stationed in the capital’s industrial-zone-turned-art-hotspot, tech-heads will find euphoria in the French house beats of Anthony Collins or the progressive sounds of Gui Boratto. Unapologetically, the theme of festival is still about tracks that get hands in the air.
798 Art District, 751 D-Park
100 yuan in advance, 300 yuan at the door