MIDI 2013: Anywhere, Anytime, Thanks for the Rock n Roll

Ah.. so, despite the temptations of XTX at Strawberry, yours truly couldn’t resist the call of rock n roll! I just had to get me my MIDI May Day fix, no matter how far I had to go. And to be honest with you, 60km is actually not that far. The biggest problem with it was dealing with shitty ass traffic as all license plate restrictions are lifter during official holidays. but.. let’s not get ahead of ourselves.. and start from the beginning!

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The location:

China Music Valley was impressive! As much as I enjoyed the Shunyi Olympic Park, this place was 10 times better! The festival was set in a valley surrounded by mountains with beautiful blue skies prevailing for the days I was there. I’m glad I went because I’m now thinking of heading back there sooner or later for a little break and even maybe some ski action.
Getting there was relatively smooth using MIDI shuttles but it did take a looooooooonnnnng freaking time. On Monday, for day 1, it took slightly over 3,5 hours to make the trek with traffic backed up beyond belief. Tuesday was a bit better at 2,5 hours but still a long journey. Getting back was a heck of a lot faster as we were back in town within the hour.

The Facilities:
True to form, MIDI was a good old party: plenty of grass, lots of vendors peddling their wares, cheapish drinks and water, short lines and good times. The official tents had tons of options between 5 and 10 rmb. School Bar had a tent selling cocktails for 20rmb a pop and so did 13 Club. Of course, Jagermeister and Tiger were also everywhere. Plenty of bathrooms were scattered around the grounds, not to mention the camping facilities. Oh.. and there was a pretty darn good tuna sandwich for 20 rmb available as well.

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The Sound:
I have no idea what they were thinking but the way they set up the stages was just strange. The Tang stage, being the main headliner one, could easily was unsurprisingly the best sounding one around. The Qing and song stages had various issues over the two days I was there. The kids area was probably the best organised out of all.

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The Bands:
At first, you might say MIDI might be slightly underwhelming and I think I have even written that at some point. hindsight 20/20, I’m taking it back: Sure, we can argue all we want about Miserable Faith headlining every MIDI since the Spring-Autum era but they are one of the biggest bands in China with a huge following. That said, there was plenty more happening over the next 3 days: Hao Yun was the dude on day 2 whereas Twisted Machine handled that on Day 1. I don’t think they’ve ever been in that position before.
What MIDI also did was bring in a lot of new the younger bands like 16mn and Nine Theatres just to mention a few! They are helping build the next generation of noise makers.

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Another particular change this year was local bands with foreign members were allowed in, mostly Bad Mamasan and the Randy Able Stable.
There were some pretty sweet performances while I was there with some kudos going to: The Onfires (Australia), Novaheart, Ordnance, Tomahawk, Perpetual Motion Machine, Bad Mamasan, Randy Abel Stable, Emergency Gate (Germany), Dept (Spain), Liquid Oxygen Can and CMCB. All these bands managed to pull off pretty intense performances.

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In the case of Ordnance, they put on an amazing show and the fans clearly had missed them. Bad Mamasan came out ready to rock and had the audience off their feet most night. CMCB put on their best show in years and the new material is pretty good.
SUBS, who were set to headline the Song stage were served a rotten piece of a deal that really hurt: their show was shut down prematurely after playing 15mn due to local curfew. Ever the professionals, they stepped of stage when asked but they were not pleased… not the least! This was quite reminiscent of 2 years ago when Voodoo Kungfu had the same thing happen to them. It’s almost counter productive to be the headliner at this point.
AS far as disappointments go, I’d have to say Muma and Third Party. The band played as a trio, without bass and without depth. No amount of effects can help when you’re on a big stage without your beat master. Xiao Feng was sorely missed in that one.

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Overall, I don’t regret my two days hanging out at Pinggu.. If i had to do it all over, I would have switched day 2 w/ day 3 as the lineup was much stronger but Music is Music and MIDI gives it to us in a way that the faithful loves. After a few years, you start recognising some of the festival goers, especially those always front row. and it feel good.. To quote Kid Rock:

If it looks good, you’ll see it. If it sounds good, you’ll hear it. If its marketed right, you’ll buy it. But… If its real… you’ll feel it.
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Here are a few more pictures from this year, mostly taken by me and with some others courtesy of our good friend Фукография

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Here are some other reviews from the festival scene this year:

Midi 2013 @ The Beijinger
Strawberry 2013 at The Beijinger
Midi and Strawberry piece on China Music Radar

If you know of any more, please leave a link in the comments and i’ll add them up

see you next year!!

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6 Responses

  1. Ami says:

    the donuts were the best part of midi. and napping through brain failure + suffocated. in the sun! kidding (but not about the donuts). i like china music valley but there were about 4 too many stages for the space. SMZB was great but time management issues throughout the day meant that they only played approx. 25 minutes of a 40 minute set so that was disappointing. thanks for linking to the radar piece!

  2. Beijing Daze says:

    damn.. i missed out on the donuts!!
    i wouldn’t go as far as 4 stages too many but maybe they could have done without the MINI stage and the kids stage to space out the other 3 in a more efficient manner.
    Time management issues were really frustrating on days 1 & 2 as well. Still, i’d rather deal with those than with problems getting water.

  3. Andy Best says:

    I love how you mention local curfews and foreigner restrictions as if they were normal things not worthy of further mention. Well, I guess that we need some positivity. I didn’t realise the Beijing was still doing that. It comes from the gov and not from Midi, right? I mean the foreign member bands.

  4. Beijing Daze says:

    @andy
    as far as local curfews, that’s a universal thing. it’s not unique to China when it comes to festivals. If MIDI is aware that 10:30pm is the cut off time, they should plan accordingly. Same thing has happened to me in Festivals stateside.
    AS far as the local bands with foreign members, it is indeed still a problem in Beijing. My understanding is that they have to go through the same complicated process as bands from overseas :-( This year though, I’m guessing MIDI couldn’t get enough bands due to whatever restrictions and decided it was worth the hassle to get 2 Beijing bands in there.

  5. ruby says:

    despite the 4 hrs it took to get out there, this year midi was soooo much better than strawberry – if not only for the facts that i could buy water, lie on the grass, go the toilet without lining up for an hour+, but also the sound on the stages was bearable (ok, not great, but at least the sound guys seemed to have some idea what they were doing)

    apart from the bands B already mentioned, i loved kiwi boys So So Modern’s afternoon set. big ups to them for being pros, after arriving at the venue at the time they should have started playing (traffic was shocking!) then being told food/drinks weren’t provided, they had to buy their own; they played an awesome set that had the crowd rocking out with them – only to jump back on the bus and head into the city for a night show at temple (anyone go see that? how was it?)

    also on the little stage, jiahuizhen, who i’ve seen a few times and never really liked, were pretty damn good. they’ve improved a lot since i last saw them at xp.

  1. May 15, 2013

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