I’m not a fan of Modern Sky, let’s get that out of the way before anyone calls me biased! My experiences last year left me wanting and i swore them off for the remainder of the year. Encouraging rumors of improvement made me rethink that position and head over for the second day of their May Holiday festival on May 1.
Things got off to an early bad start after getting to the Tongzhou Beiyuan subway station: There was no sign or whatsoever of the advertised shuttle. I witnessed quite a few people just aimlessly wondering around the station trying to locate it, locals and foreigners alike. We wasted a good 40mn waiting before we gave up and hopped into an illegal taxi.
Getting on the premises made things almost worse: Lines were wrapping around the corner from ticket booths which just got me tense and considering an immediate escape either to MIDI or 2 Kolegas…. still, I refrained and decided to trudge along. To be fair, waiting didn’t take that long and we were in within 20mn, nothing like the 4 hours it took last year.
Once we walked in, things got slightly better! Tongzhou park is a great location for a festival, stretching over a huge land of greenery. This year, they had 5 main stages spread over the park well enough so that the sound collision problems of last year didn’t happen again. Good stuff.
Unfortunately, we got in late so missed AV Akubo and Me guan Me whom I heard put on good performances. However, we still did manage to catch enough music to make it worth our time:
Success (France) were entertaining and energetic, they reminded me of early Blur.
Hedgehog played the main stage struggling a bit to capture the attention on all concert goers in the gigantic Strawberry hill. We had to get closer to get a better feel for their sound! Their new songs are darker and heavier, very much to my liking, but the band just does not belong on a stage that big playing to so many people. They’re much better served on a smaller scene or a club like Mao / Yugong Yishan. Still, kudos to the band on good new music and putting up a decent show! The ever pounding Atom looked even tinier on that scene but she’s still impressive.
Top Floor Circus, from Shanghai, were a pleasant surprise. Their brand of rock is infused with theatrics and they like using Shanghai hua, making it a bit harder for me to understand them. Still, I did like their set on the love stage. They had the sparse crowd going, waving along and even singing along to a few numbers. I gotta mention in passing their charismatic frontman who was sporting one hell of a bright pink jacket and looked very comfortable wearing it. Their sound was definitely rock with a bit of local flavor, think grown-man nanwu.
Miserable Faith was next on Strawberry stage where they gathered an impressive amount of people and rocked them like only they could. I swear there was in excess of 10000 bodies scattered there singing along to each one of their anthems. I can’t say enough about how much I love watching this band live and the energy levels they get from/share with their audience. For this particular performance, they played their softer, more marketable sing alongs and the crowd was happy to indulge singing along to every word.
Reflector failed to impress me yet again. I still think of them as overrated but they had a decent turnup over on the love stage. I’m just not into popish punk! heck, I don’t think the two terms go together well.
Nuclear Fusion G, on the overload stage, was decent at best. Watered down industrial metal that is fairly disposable and not exactly worth traveling for.
Re-TROS were freaking awesome. They’ve gotta be one of the most intense power trio performers in China! I’m not a big fan of bands that don’t interact with the audience but i make an exception in their case. Their showmanship, musicianship and particular flavor of progressive rock are really cool. They didn’t manage to pull as big of a turnout as miserable faith which is a shame because their set was just as good.
On the way out, as we were scrambling to beat the masses, we were drawn to the Overload stage where Liquid Oxygen Can was playing. The beats and metal were so cool that we just couldn’t help it! I’ve never heard the band before but they got me hooked after 2 songs and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them again soon!
The good, bad and ugly:
– While the people leaving from gongti reported no problems with the shuttle, the ones in tongzhou couldn’t say the same. If you’re gonna do it, do it right….
– Ticketing problems plagued both days 1 & 2 of the festival. I didn’t personally experience them but a few people were stuck not able to buy them.
– No Alcohol on the premises! For whatever reason, alcohol sales were halted late on day one and never started again. Absolut, one of the sponsors, had a bunch of tent setup for cocktails that were pretty much deserted. Sure, it was pretty easy getting some in but not if you didn’t know about it. What’s up with that? Same story over at CMV
– Food Stalls were better organized and had more variety than those of MIDI. props for having sinks readily available to wash hands.
– The ground was huge and tons of people were there mostly to enjoy the weather and greenery. Strawberry is where you’re more likely to see fashionistas in their better dress as opposed to torn jeans and leather.
– Modern Sky did learn from the past but they still lack common sense. Why not include a map of the ground on the program booklet? we were scrambling to figure out where everything was for 30 mn.
– Cool merch on the premises with a dedicated stall selling Chinese CDs… I walked out of there with 300 rmb worth of music.
– Considering it’s in my backyard, I still had a harder time getting to Strawberry than MIDI… there is no reason for that but I can’t quite blame the organizers for this one.
Overall, better than last year and positive. Still, no matter what, I’m probably just not going to bother with Modern Sky events anymore. Not my scene.
Read City Weekend’s excellent review and analysis from days 1 & 2
next up, MIDI day 3