Was that rain or was it rain this past saturday in Beijing? that was precipitations of biblical proportion folks and it made for one hell of a wet day for yours truly.
I was supposed to catch the Punk Festival at Mao then head on to Ditan Park but for once, Mao decided to get away from the original schedule and a show that was supposed to get going around 3:00 pm didn’t start til way after 8.
I got tired of waiting and made it over to Ditan park for day 6 of Max Star music festival just in time to catch NanCheng Er Ge ( Nancheng Brother) whom I had never seen before. It was pretty quick to get tickets and the little sales girls assured me that they would not stop the show unless there was thunder.
The stage was set inside Ditan Temple itself which I thought was pretty cool.. the whole worshiping the sun thing and how it relates to idolizing rock stars… almost a romantic concept! Security was lax and would let you bring your own drinks in as long as you put them in a paper cup which was a cool thing. However, there wasn’t much available inside in terms of food or merchandise: just 2 stands selling beer and soft drinks which was still more than what Strawberry had (I’ll stop picking on them one day.. promise)
There was a little drizzle as i went in for Nancheng but the 1000+ audience didn’t seem to mind. The bands was a weird mix of crosstalk, comedy and music doing sketches about computers, Mercedes and other brands.. at some point, they had a ball making fun of football in China which had most of the audience laughing. They talked more than they sang.. not my thing but to be fair, that’s probably because i didn’t get most of their jokes.
Brain Failure was up next and they did manage to get the crowd rowdy. Sure, by now, the guys are mostly going through the motions and routines but it still seems effective enough. They managed to get the crowd nice and rowdy almost to the point where they were a bit too much to handle. With rain pouring as the band played their classic “Anarchy in the City”, security got involved to stop audience members from trying to get on the metal fence and stage dive!
Next up was carsick cars and there’s not really much I can say about them that I haven’t said before! I’m still not impressed and I’m not a fan of their performance style which pretty much involved ignoring the audience completely. That said, apparently, their latest album is musically interesting so i might have to check it out. They played one song that definitely had some oumf to it but the rest was the same. I did feel bad for them because as they started capturing the audience’s attention, they were shut down. It looked like someone just walked up and said : you’re done now… the band and the audience were equally confused as they had not even played their biggest song: Zhongnanhai.
Twisted Machine took the stage as the rain hardened a bit and it was the complete opposite of the previous act: The band was up front, in your face, looking and talking to the audience and delivered punishing blistering riffs much to the delight of the audience. To be fair, these guys are not the most original band or the most musically gifted and they also exude a bit of PK 14 flavor but that said, they freaking rocked! I’m not sure if i felt that way because they came after the shy-subdued carsick cars. Good fashioned heavy metal! They closed things off with a bit of a mellow track of their latest record but they get a B on the night.
Finally, it was time for Xie Tian Xiao to take the stage and let me tell you folks, he did not disappoint! The music was classic XTX with full on screams, screeching, shouting, big guitars and guzheng… none of that reggae stuff that he’s been on recently. His music and showmanship speak for themselves and i don’t need to say how good he played.. I’m gonna focus on his professionalism and the respect he gets: As the band started, we could notice he was having sound and guitar problems. despite the frustrations, he soldiered on and managed to get a tech to swap his jack without missing a step or stopping the show. Moreover, despite playing under the heaviest rain of the evening, there wasn’t a single freaking umbrella out unlike when Brain Failure and the others played. It’s always amazing how and audience and a band can feed off each other’s energy and that’s what some of today’s new bands just do not understand.
A couple of special things about Max Star festival from my brief stop there:
– Ditan park is a cool venue for this type of small scale festival. It looks nice and crowded with a crowd of 1000 or so.
– speaking of the crowd, they were amazing on saturday! Standing for hours under the rain, singing along with the bands and having a good time.
– The price was right for event and the lineups made sense in how bands were grouped: folk day, rock days, techno day, etc..
– The bathroom issue needs to be sorted out. Having to walk out and then walk back in is not the most practical way of doing things.
– Security was cool… other than a small incident where they rushed to the front to stop people from hurting themselves, they did not interfere with the show. There were two security guards behind me at some point singing along to Twisted Machine