Michelle Dai Leaves Beijing – Goodbye and Thank You

We talk a lot about bands breaking up, artists starting new projects, new albums, etc… all the news from the music scene! What we don’t bring up often enough is the people that keep us informed about the music scene and how important/influential they can be. We also rarely take the time to thank them, mostly because they stay behind the scenes and we rarely know who they are!

Well, one of these people is leaving us and it’s quite a sad thing in my book… a big loss: Michelle Dai, who has brilliantly held the post of Live Music Editor at The Beijinger, is leaving the job and the city in pursuit of other adventures!

I still remember when Michelle first made an impression on yours truly, with her live music roundup that covered the reunion of giants (he yong, cui jian, etc…)

Earlier this week, while I was having dinner in a restaurant in Gui Jie, He Yong walked in and sat at the table right next to ours. All of a sudden I felt my heartbeat accelerating. In order to explain my feelings to my friend – a financial journalist who has close to zero interest in rock music – I said: “Imagine if the ex-managing director of China Citic Bank just randomly walked in and sat down next to you.”

More than 15 years ago, in the spring of 1994, three men – He Yong, Dou Wei, Zhang Chu (aka “The Three Heroes of Mo Yan” 魔岩三杰 ) – released hugely significant albums at the same time. Later that year, they went on tour to Hong Kong along with Tang Dynasty. That concert is still considered a milestone of Chinese rock music. In the same year, Cui Jian released his third album, Balls Under The Red Flags. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call that year the climax of rock music in China. Too bad that the milestone probably marked the end of a highway. There have been many long discussions about whether the rockers walked further and further away from Chinese people’s impression of rock music or the struggle against “the powers that be” sealed the fate of rock & roll in China. It didn’t take much time for rock music to go back underground.

Why am I repeating all these clichés? Because all the abovementioned rock stars (except Dou Wei) and nine other bands and musicians are likely to set another milestone tonight at Workers’ Stadium at the Rock Heroes’ Concert. The roster also includes names like Xu Wei, Wang Feng, Black Panther, Pu Shu, Zheng Jun, Shuang Zi from the mainland; Qi Qin and Xin from Taiwan; and Huang Jiaqiang (Beyond) from Hong Kong. If Dou Wei were to show up (as some rumors insist he will) along with Luo Dayou from Taiwan, and if Huang Jiaju, the former lead vocalist of Beyond, were to be resurrected for a single evening, tonight’s stage would feature practically everybody who has had an impact on Chinese rock music in the past 20 years.

In any case, you will be able to see Luo at the Greatwall Tanglewood Music Festival. And I was so curious about the rumor of Dou Wei (and Faye Wong?!) presence at the Rock Heroes’ Concert that I screwed up my courage, turned to He Yong at the next table, and asked him if it was true. He denied it.

This is still one of my favorite pieces of hers… it’s got personality, personal story and good/solid background knowledge!As the year went, Michelle’s coverage of the music scene got better with each article, each post and each interview and I’ve learned to seek and respect her opinions…. now, I’ll miss them. I’ve also enjoyed the brief conversations we’ve had about music, tattoos and other random blabbers.

Thank you Michelle! Here’s wishing you the best of luck and success for your future endeavors…

Keep on Rocking!

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1 Response

  1. Keysy says:

    I still count the reference I wrote for Michelle’s application to join the Beijinger as my greatest contribution to the development of rock music in China. A loss for Beijing but a major win for the Sino-Australian Music Exchange! Looking forward to seeing her down here where the sun shines brightest.