3 years ago, MIDI was the most important music festival/event in Beijing IMHO. The names, the acts, the festival atmosphere and the fun all added up to one hell of an experience! Also, there is no denying that they were the catalyst to vibrant music scene in old smoggy as they literally paved the way for Modern Sky and other outdoor festivals.
Their impact over the past two years can be argued with in light of restrictions and other distractions that prevented the organizers from holding a festival up to the standards they themselves set but that’s a discussion for another day.
A few weeks back, to commemorate their 10th anniversary, they announced their newest initiative as reported by the good folks at ChinaMusicRadar.com : The Chinese Rock Awards. With such a vibrant music scene, it was about time someone decided to bestow some sort of recognition on the various actors that make the live music scene what it is.
1- Dominance of Beijing Based bands:
As you can see from the list, there is a huge Beijing Bias in the list which sits fine with yours truly because we all know Beijing bands kick ass!! That said, it would have been nice to get exposed to some names other than the ones we see day in day out at Mao, D22 and Yugong Yishan. This in turns begs the question: Why not just call them the Beijing Rock Awards?
2- Lack of variety:
Miserable Faith ( 痛仰 ) gets two nominations out of 3 for song of the year!!! Ok, they’re good but not that good! What gives? Either the nomination panel is not familiar enough with the songs of said acts or they’re implying that none of the other bands has produced a good enough song to qualify for “song of the year” This part is quite disturbing to me as the panel seems varied and diverse enough to be exposed to more that those few songs with contributors from Time Out, Rock in China, Hit FM, etc…
I’m just really surprised at the narrow field of nominations! There is no denying the quality of the nominated bands and it’s good seeing the likes of Thin Man recognized but there are plenty of other veterans and newcomers in the circuit that produced amazing material this year: Ourselves Besides Me comes to mind for fantastic new record, BuYi with their amazing live performances or The Face with their rabid followers. Let’s not Mention someone like Joyside that sells out every venue every time. Again, I’m not sure what the panel was thinking but it doesn’t seem right.
3- The other forgotten:
Local Bands with foreigners in them are nowhere to be found in this list and I’m not too sure how I feel about that: A lot of these folks like Black Cat Bone , Bad Apples, Lion of Puxi, Bad Mamasan and Arrows Made of Desire just to name a few are on the top of their game and can hold their own. They are made up of temporary/long term expats which makes them Foreign Bands but at the same time, they are only China-Based.. Shouldn’t they receive a bit of recognition from the likes of MIDI who are more than happy to book them whenever they can for shows? They could at least give them one category somewhere..
Enough of the criticism though… As Donna Renae ( of GAWTMY fame) pointed out in an interview, the music scene in Beijing is still “Wet Behind the Ears” and an innitiative like this needs to be aplauded and commanded. Good Go MIDI, hope it works out and let’s be conscious of the fact there is room for improvement.