The year in review: 2012 in Chinese rock music history

On January 7th, 2011, during their anniversary celebration for the 13th year of Modern Sky, Shen Lihui announced that they are going to deeply integrate with Beijing based label/ promoter/ artist management company Robust Husband (荔芙娱乐) and hence all of Robust’s bands are to be considered Modern Sky bands, including Omnipotent Youth Hotel, Brain Failure, Steely Heart, Candy Monster, White Eyes and Go Chic. On January 8th, Yaksa held their 15 years anniversary concert in the Yugong Yishan.

Further in January, the compilation record Generation 6 (VA) is released showcasting amongst Rustic three other young upcoming bands that are part of theGeneration 6 band movement.

In March, various benefit concerts for Japan were held including: on March 18th the Japan Benefit Show at the 13 Club Beijing; on March 19th at LUNE, Shanghai; and on March 22nd, the Love You! – Mao Japan Benefit concert at the Mao Livehouse Beijing.[106]

On March 19th, for the tenth time, the 330 Metal Festival happened at Tango, Beijing.

On March 24th, Archie Hamilton released an article at CNNGo about the current state of the underground music and the need for bands to take the next step. Among other statements Archie voiced:

The scenes in Shanghai and Beijing are still largely populated by expats and Westernized Chinese, while Shanghai’s pre-Expo momentum was destroyed by a flood of government-sponsored visiting artists creative who had little to no name recognition in China and (due to a general lack of organization and promotion) left very little impact and generally froze out the local audiences. The second and third tier cities that don’t have the expat populations struggle to sustain even a single live house (although Vox in Wuhan, Nuts in Chongqing, Little Bar in Chengdu and various others are doing their best). What is clear is that more grassroots activity is absolutely vital to move things forward.

Further in March and April, the fourth installation of the Metal Battle takes place in Beijing.

On April 22nd, Maybe Mars releases the debut record of GBOB winner’s Rustic.

At the beginning of May a series of cancellations and concert banning took place with the biggest cancellation the postponement of the Suzhou Strawberry Music Festival 2011 alledgebly due to damages by a thunderstorm effecting their power set up, however as per China Music Radar, rumours are that the actual reason is a happening at the Zhouzhuang Folk fest the weekend earlier:

Last weekend’s Zhouzhuang Folk Festival, someone sent a message containing “Aye Way Way (sic.)” to the public tweet channel, which has been shown on the big screen. Aye Way Way, the famous Chinese dis-a-dent artist, was ‘kidnapped’ by police at Beijing Airport early this April. The message was deleted immediately, however, it did not stop people from tweeting more. Shortly ahead of Zuo Xiao Zu Zhou, a famous underground folk musician, came up on stage, young folks started yelling “Aye Way Way”. The whole ‘accident’ wasn’t planned at all, but it was one of the greatest reactions within China regarding the authority detaining Aye Way Way.

Furthermore several gigs including a show of Rustic were cancelled in Beijing. In Chongqing raids by the police happened prohibiting foreign and expat bands to perform, alledgebly due to taxation issues. Furthermore all international acts of the Nanjing Blossom Music Festival (April 30th) were banned to perform in addition to bands such as SMZB ordered to not perform their song For Friends and Beer, which they however nevertheless played and let the audience sing the song.

Nevertheless these troubles, the Beijing Strawberry Music Festival 2011, the Midi Music Festival 2011 and other festivals happened around the May holidays. Talking about the Midi festival in Beijing, Beijing Daze stated:

– The musicians were really cool with interruptions and shortened sets judging from their weibo streams. It’s cool that they were all mindful of each other.
– Again, a huge “big ups” to the crowd.. not as busy as the organizers would have liked with about 4000 or so that first day but definitely pulling their weight in!

A couple of days after the Beijing festival, the Midi festival happened for the first time in Shanghai. Mache and Squinzi summaried the festival stating that:

On May 6th to 8th Midi festival happened for the first time in Shanghai. It was great to see thousands of rock lovers together. Midi did well, and the bands that played there did even better (…)

Furthermore, the D-22 celebrated their fifth anniversary in a three-day concert (Apr 30th, May 1st and 2nd) along with those bands that grew big by the help of D-22 including Carsick CarsWhiteSnapline and many others. According to Beijing Gig Guide: D-22 might not be the only kid on the block any­more, but they’ve been an impor­tant step­ping stone to many.

From May 13th to 28th, Beijing punk band The Dancers have their national tour, the first and last one in their short existence.

On May 27th and May 28th, the 2 Kolegas celebrated their 6th anniversary marking the bar as one of the oldest open live venue in Beijing. According to Beijing Daze:

oh boy… where to start? As far as parties go, the best ones this year have been at 2 kolegas (see new year bash)! Those guys just know how to throw down the fun times and get a party started. Last year was memorable, this year was even bigger!

On June 17th, the Summersonic festival band competition had their finals at the Mao Livehouse with Nanwu winning and getting a stage slot at the Japanese Summersonic festival.

On June 24th, 2011, the dazeFEAST 2011 one-day festival took place at the 2 Kolegas in Beijing organized by Beijing Daze.According to Beijing Gig Guide:

The after­noon scene was lovely. To start off with, it was just twenty-four hours after the city had been com­pletely flooded, and the sun was out and the weather was lovely. It was like a big pic­nic with all your friends, and occa­sion­ally some of them would get up and start singing. (…) The whole thing fin­ished up around 3AM, and really there isn’t much more to say than that daze­FEAST was a roar­ing suc­cess. Every­one I know who went had a blast, and we were not alone.

Beginning of July, a microblog alledgebly belonging to RADIOHEAD appeared on Chinese social network WEIBO, stearing up rumours on whether Radiohead might try to come to China or whether they want to bring their influence one step up.. According to the Guardian:

Account linked to band has attracted 65,000 followers in five days, but could be shut down if used to discuss politics (…) The inaugural three-word post was as bland as it was terse: “Testing the weibo …” There has been nothing since, but the blog has attracted 65,119 followers, been forwarded 11,085 times and stimulated 4,335 comments.

On July 8-11, 2011, three Shanghai bands, after a round of fundraiser gigs organized by DJ BO held their Rock Naadam tour of MongoliaBoys Climbing RopesMoon Tyrant and The Horde performed at Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan along with several Mongolian rock and metal bands. As per Mi2N the purpose of the tour is:

1)To promote interest and communication between the people of Mongolia and China
2)To promote China-based acts in Mongolia and Mongolia-based acts in China
3)To encourage interest in live music, especially rock and roll

On July 22nd, Midi announced that they had to cancel their Midi Zhenjiang festival this year as the local government decided to give the location to Modern Sky. On August 22nd, Midi held a press conference explaining the background of the cancellation of the October Midi Festival in Zhenjiang. As per press conference:

Back in 2009, Midi had signed a ten-year contract with Zhenjiang Wenguang, a government-owned group that oversees cultural events in the city, to organize an annual music festival. (Like many music festivals set outside of Beijing, Zhenjiang Midi is financially sponsored by the local government.) Ever since last year’s Zhenjiang Midi Festival, both Midi and local media had been promoting the 2011 Midi Festival as set to take place during the National Day holiday (i.e. the first week of October). The two sides made multiple verbal agreements about it; they signed side-contracts regarding transportation and accommodation for the bands. Midi and Zhenjiang had discussed expenses for the 2011 event and had a verbal agreement to sign a detailed contract in mid-July. (…) Midi proceeded to invite international bands for the festival lineup; they paid for the airfare and deposit for international bands such as Chimaira. On July 11, however, a Midi employee named Liu Chang began to hear disturbing rumors; a promoter for another band in their lineup, German metal band The Ocean, claimed that they had been invited to play another festival (i.e. Strawberry) at the same time in the same city. Subsequently, Liu began to hear similar information from other tour booking agents. Apparently, “that other music festival’s organizer” had sounded very confident when he assured the tour booking agents that there would not be a Midi Festival in Zhenjiang in October. (…) Zhenjiang Wenguang and Modern Sky (…) held a press conference on August 17, mainly to promote Zhenjiang Strawberry Music Festival 2011. Modern Sky is holding the event there after having been invited to do so from Zhenjiang Wenguang, who explained that their original contract with Midi had never specified exact dates for the Midi Festival.

On August 21st 2011, David O’Dell’s book Inseparable, a history of Chinese punk, is published.

On October 1st 2011, Jon Campbell’s long awaited chronology of Chinese rock called Red Rock is published. On October 15th, the Wuhan Prison Punk Fest II took place with Sharp Pills (Wuhan),CMYK (Wuhan), Blurry (Wuhan), Last Choice (Changsha), Angry Jerks (Nanjing) and No Name (Xi’an) and according to Cool Ghoul drawing a a hot crowd with a healthy mix of laowai and locals giving props to the all-Chinese line up from around the country

Summing up the year in a number of blog posts, Beijing Daze named the Top 5 Chinese Albums of 2011:

Further, Beijing Daze called out on the best and worst live gigs in Beijing of the year 2011. Here is the list of the best:

  • AK-47 @ MIDI:
  • The Black Snakes @ ‘dazeFEAST
  • Subs @ King of the Road
  • Dongzi @ Jianghu
  • Spring Autumn @ Gulou 121
  • Last Choice @ Mao Punk Fest
  • Out of Control @ Mao Rolling Stones Tribute
  • Abaji @ Jianghu
  • HangGai & La Pegatina @ Mako
  • Bad Mamasan Album Launch @ Yugong
  • Concrete Blonde @ Hangzhou West Lake Festival

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