Anda Festival: Inner Mongolia Rises with Sounds from the Grasslands

Holly shit was it a busy weekend! I can’t recall running around jagged like this since maybe the May day festivals between Anda at Mako, Intercity at Chaoyang Park and Hell ‘Bone at Yugong… but here, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend day 1 of the festivities as a member of the media. Hopefully, free entry didn’t make me more biased than usual

Friday was day 1 of Anda Mongolian Festival at Mako Livehouse who’s making a revival of sorts. Some new manager was apparently hired and is doing a great job connecting with local musicians. It would be very good to shift the epicenter of music away from Gulou and we need Mako for that.

So yeah, Anda… This was a weird one! Things got started around 8 and I pretty much missed all the early bands due to work and sustenance commitments. I did however get there on time for a few bands including 九宝乐队 (Jiu Bao). I was told that these guys were quite famous, more used to CCTV shows and what not but in a limited register. Friday night, they let loose with guitars, horsehead fiddle and a weird triangle shaped ukulele if i may call it that (anyone knows the name? ). Initially, they sounded like a shanzhai version of Hanggai which they actually are not. The lead singer was quite charismatic, moving around the stage and engaging the audience. By the end of their set which included a cover of Metallica’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, I was quite happy with them and definitely would consider catching them again.

Next up was 朝乐门和AXD乐队, fronted by a lovely looking lady with an angel’s voice. I’m not even gonna attempt getting an English name on that. Anyways, I did enjoy their set even though it sounded like one of those standard Mongolian compilations you can get at many stores but that didn’t make it any less beautiful.

Hanggai picked the nicest spot to come out and strut their stuff… and by golly did they ever do that! The place erupted when they came up on stage. They played a nice long set of the usual Hanggai classics including xiger xiger and more. It’s the first time i got to see Hanggai play with similar profile bands and I am now convinced more than ever that they are a few notches above the lot. I’m guessing their international exposure has made them that much better with sounds, harmonies, showmanship etc… Amazing performance that brought down the house!

Finally, Dai Qin and supposedly Thin Man came up onstage to close the night! If you’ve ever seen Thin Man circa 2005, 2007 or even last year, you remember them as this amazing band with great little sounds and an interesting depth. Frontman Dai Qin is someone I always appreciated… until friday that is. What came up onstage some horrible CCTV friendly version of a onetime iconic band. They looked 15 and were pretty much old going through the motions. A disgrace to the memory and the legacy they built.. I left quite saddened

Overall, this was a fantastic little evening in Shuangjing. Here are some other highlights:

* There was a big turnout, mostly locals with a few laowai showing up for hanggai.
* The Mongolian community came in big numbers.. so much that there was pretty much only Mongolian spoken for most of the night.
* A lot of the bands were performing in this setting for the first time ever. It’s cool to get so many of them out of inner mongolia. I just really wish it was easier to get information on them.
* Mako is a great venue for this type of event. I’d venture to say that there was close to 1000 persons in there.
* Very nice sound throughout most of the time I was there except during one of Hanggai’s songs.
* I hope the organizers had a good time and made it into their funds especially with a Rainy saturday.

More information and pictures on their official website:

I wish I was able to make it there on saturday for the other bands… it looked like such fun with tons of variety! Alas, i couldn’t.. here’s hoping they do it again!

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. traci says:

    九宝 Jiu Bao (Yussen Erden) are a new band, formed recently of music veterans. The lead singer is a guitarist and horsehead fiddle player for, I believe, Haya (who are a major Mongolian pop band). The triangle ukelele player was trained as an opera singer and has an amazing voice. The bass player is Ewenke and has played with other rock and traditional bands before.

    I don’t have a great deal of info on the lovely lady of Chaolemei and AXD, but her beautiful voice was matched the second nice by the beautiful voices of the Kerqin Sisters (sisters from Kerqin), who sadly did not have their usual band with them (as travelling from Inner Mongolia would have been prohibitively expensive).

    The highlight of night 2 was 蓝野 Lanye (Khuun Kheer) who have been a Mongolian rock band for many years, popular mostly within that community. Night 2 was an even more “Mongolian” night, with the crowd being almost entirely Mongolian, perhaps 600 people.

    Good fun!