Last weekend, right after the Heaven Shall Burn show in MAO Beijing and without any sleep, we drove to the air port with the German boys. After they got into the gats, my friend and me were on our way to the other termimal to catch our flight to Jinan, Shandong Prov.: on our way to the Taishan Internationa Music Festival on the factory area of Taishan Beer in Tai An City.
The organizational part was a bit chaotic as expected since this is the first big event of the organizers behind it. We didnt know that we were sharing the same flight with a famous Hongkong/Taiwan pop band called Xin (信乐团) until we got to the Air Port of Jinan. The shuttle crew had a bus and a van waiting for us. Without knowing how much luggage the pop band will bring with them and unknowledged of the fact that bands never leave their luggages and gears on other vehicles unless one of the crew member is riding with it, they stuffed all 7 people plus luggage into the full packed small van, because the van can get to the hotel in Tai An City faster than the bus. Since my friend is responsible for the sound and light set ups, he rode along with the pop band, leaving me at the air port with the shuttle crew (some giggling girls with flowers for the arriving artists and excitement for their 1st festival participation), waiting for the next band, old rock veterants: Again (轮回).
And again, they stuffed the older rockers into another small van that just returned from Tai An to send them to the hotel, and again some frowning faces hit the road. Now the shuttle crew want to get back to the festival area directly, so instead having the bus bringing the band, the 4 of us were heading to town in an almost empty bus. Does that make sense? That’s how it works, for them. Good start, huh?
Of course they dont have a room for me, so i got out at the back stage with my luggage until my friend came to pick me up. Mean while, Beijing indie youngsters Alt Senior were rocking the stage with their superb performance as always. But it seems the crowd didnt quite rock with them until the vocalist uttered some lines in Chinese inbetween songs (they have English lyrics). The audience seems not to know what to do with bands who dont sing in understandable language, no matter English (the same for Beijing’s skate punks Larry’s Pizza on the next day) or death vocs of Narakam (冥界).
I was actually invited to accompany my friend to be there on the festival just in case some messy situation occurs where he might need an extra hand. But things wend quite smooth for our part since we were only the production team, responsible for the sound and light set ups. BTW, it is the same stage, some of you might have seen on the Ditan Park Festival two weeks ago, only we added better stage equipments and a way better light system.
I was really tired without any proper sleep, so instead of witnessing all the uninteresting performers of the frist day, i prefered to go to the hotel room of my friend and work a bit on the Midi Fest pages. That room has a broad window that is facing directly to the stage and the festival area which technically has enough room for over 10 thousand people, even though the festival organizer team were still speculation about the number of the visitors yet to come, it was only 3 or 4 thousand noses out there.
The biggest stars of the evening were Tsinghua University’s contribution to the Chinese pop world: Shui Mu Nian Hua (水木年华), it seems they got a bit pissed that they didnt get an evening time slot even though they were co-headliners with the other main act of the night, newer pop stars Ai (爱乐团, the Love Band). So the singing duo of Shui Mu Nian Hua, in typical rock star fashion, let the audience wait another hour before they hit the stage with playback background music, meanwhile some hired DJ/Rapper was trying to entertain the croud with the most old fashioned und uncool techno beats and some farmer-styled simple rhymes, in Tsingtao slang. He sounded so proud when he put on some songs of “Lazy Gaga”, oh man, he could need some help of that guy at the intersection of Nan Luo Gu Xiang who sells those lates House tunes on CDR with his ghetto blaster.
Anyway, the slogan of the festival was “real performance, true fealings”, with that in mind, pop divans Shui Mu started there heartless singing to their playback tracks, until the gayish guy and the slutty girl show hosts enthusiastically thanked them for their “authentic” performance at the end of their set. BTW, their stupid girl assistant fucked up the sound guys’s CD player with her stupid oversized CD-surface sticker, good that she got a spare CD-R with all the playbacks and good that the sound guys doesnt only have onle CD-drive on his controler. Now is getting a bit darker, so i decided to take a look of the on-side happening. On my way to the FOH (sound and light desk) i thought it’s time to taste some big promoted Taishan fresh brew, bah it tasted like piss! They say it’s a different way to brew this beer (without hops) which can only stay enjoyable for within 7 days, it should taste like the German “Weizen” (wheat beer), but it tasted sour and stale, quite a shame for something that costs 10 RMB each cup. We were guessing that the beer factory had some very late overstocks they need to get rid of. Later i tasted the same beer fresh from the bottle together at the after party dinner the next day with the factory chief and there it tasted right. So i guess our guess wasnt too wrong.
Oops, i almost forgot about old fake-rocker Chang Kuan (常宽), nobody remember any of his songs and yet he’d always sing something that you’d recognize somehow. He delivered some decend live music though, even one hardly would count him for a real rocker, his performance was quite convincing. Ex-Cobra front lady (and stage manager of Midi Festival) Xiao Nan (肖楠) took care keyboard and backing vocs, very nicely.
The most intersting artist was a pop/rock/jazzy guy named Xiong Rulin (熊汝霖) with his own original songs and some decend covers of classic rock numbers. But since the music was a bit too new to the crowd and also with a lot English lyrics involved, he didnt receive as much apploud as he might on other festivals. After him, there came the real heros, a shitty guitar player who has timing problems and a shitty female vocalist who doesnt make it right in her tunes here and there. Their songs were the best, at each want you would always have this “already heard from some where” moments, at least on one song they entirely took another famous Chinese pop song, put on their own cheasy lyrics and underlaid it with shitty guitar solo, if they ever dare to play on Midi or Modern Sky, some water or beer bottle will be sure flying towards their stage! Their name is Ai but the whole concept is a copy cat of the Hongkong pop act F.I.R. (飞儿乐团). The guitar player is originally from local Tai An and also part of the Festival administration, so of course they had to play at last. In the end, at the last song, somewhere in between of something, i guess they were introducing the band members for the 2nd time, all of a sudden and without warning, some loud fire crackers supprised us and the audience. Everyone was starring at the ongoing fire crackers while the band is trying hard to say good bye. BTW, the last fire cracker failed to reach the designed height and landed exploding only feets away from where we were standing! Nice shot!
The next day were almost the same boring with the exception of Larry’s Pizza who had a way better performance than last time on the Ditan Park Festival. Well, this time the production team had a better budget for a better monitoring system 🙂 As for the next band, it’s our old friends Narakam, really hard to imagine what a death metal band has lost on such an old fashioned place, anyway, some front row kids seemed to have there fun and older ppl at the back were trying to figure out the noise was all about before heading for the beer tent. It must have been similar for melodic goth/black Beijingers Frosty Eve on the first day, whom i missed to catch before my arrival. I have to say that Narakam vocalist Tian Kui wasnt doing a good job there as he would usually. The band was more on a practice session than a live set. After they brought death to Taishan, the same funny DJ/Rapper guy from yesterday hit the stage again to overbring some vitality back to the audience. Good for them, i had to flee and do some big time shopping before the only shop within some square kilometers closes down soon.
And oh right, it is called Taishan International Festival even though it was rather a cooperate party really and the following band delivered the justification for it’s official title. A old people party band that you might see in any empty bars in Japan and elsewhere. The translater explained that the band is on their “World Tour, from the east end of Japan to the west end” … What?! Anyway, the grand pa brothers rocked at their best with some more sleepy moments, they were ehm … nice. Meanwhile i got some 10 kuai dark beer at the booth which tasted rather like Chinese medicine but at least way better than the yellow fresh piss they got to offer otherwise.
Now the crowd is ready for some real monsters of rock and they’d get it with the female front beast of AGAIN, that wow-man oops i mean woman can scream like the devil himself, the biggest sensation of the festival, fine, the only problem here is, for a professional vocalist one should at least know how to position the microphone and control the volume of one’s own voice. Our sound guy had some difficualties to make the sound right without having the speakers blown by her sudden scream bursts. In the end he dropped her volume so nothing gets hurt, leaving her there to deal with her otherwise rather silent singing. Dont know how yesterday’s heros ended up in lame veteran rock that never made it to grow with the time, except for that Megadeth song they played as if they wrote it themselfs. Funny was, after the short wows and applaud, i had enough and scream out “Megadeth” towards the stage, a semi drunk older guy next to me came to me all of a sudden and asked me for an autograph on his wallet because the thought i am a freaky rock star in the wait. I guess, on such a occassion anyone could be a potential rock star who acts a little bit weird.
It’s good to have a more quiet accustic guitar playing girl singing some easy listening songs for a change. On the program it says Japanse band, well in real she is some Chinese girl who spend a few years in Japan. Not bad looking :p as for the music well, you will find better ones in Jianghu or Tiny Salt.
Enough of slandering around i’d say, isnt there anything good about this festival? Well yes, there in deed is, one fine band that is good enough to swing you to sleep and that’s what i exactly did. When the biggest of all big stars of the whole festival, the famous Xin (信乐团) started their set, i was so what done with it all and laid down on the equipment boxes and drifted away to dream land. Xin used to be a very good band with their former vocalist A-Xin (阿信), dont know why the band didnt get any better replacement than what was posing around on the stage that night. He is a mainland Chinese for heaven’s sake, he speaks in fake Taiwan-slang all the time and talk about China as if he didnt grow up here! What a looser! The worst is, he never made the high pitchs and always, with out any exception held his microphone towards the singing audience when he supposed to sing the high pitch! Guys, disband or do it properly! Decent ppl pay to see you clowns fooling around!
Well, as you see, you didnt miss out anything and it was good that you properly never heard about the news of this great festival at all. None of the production team member is proud of this participation, either. For the locals, let’s hope they will get some proper authentic and original live music when the beer factory is going to do the “best music festival on earth” next year. How do you say it again? There is a whole lot potential to improove, folks!