April showers, May flowers

By Berwin Song (That's beijing)
Updated: 2007-05-02 10:12

When it rains, it pours, even in the dryness of Beijing. The April concert showers have made way for plenty of May flowers C festival flowers, that is. 2007's festival season starts with a bang, with representatives from nearly every genre, at various locations in the city, and for every audience imaginable. But with the big-name annuals gobbling up all the hype, what's a little yearling to do? tbj picks some of the lesser-known celebrations for this month:

May 1-5

Apres Midi

Pity the international performers of Midi - they're not coming to China for the money, that-s for sure. That's where Apres Midi comes in: as a companion series to the big kahuna itself, it allows bands the opportunity to perform a few local gigs to make back their investment (since the staunchly non-commercial festival can't afford artist fees), and not to mention, of course, the chance to spotlight themselves in a non-festival setting; full sets in all their unabbreviated glory.

So, if you're in a charitable mood, here's your chance to give something back to the cause - and for the rest, it'll just have to be good ol' fashioned kick-ass music that draws you in. The big one, of course, is Soundtrack of Our Lives - those successful Swedish rock giants that have brought back the days of Pink Floyd and The Who, capturing the hearts of hipsters and Oasis fans everywhere. Local rockers PK14 open for them - making for a double bill that's as good as it gets in Beijing.

If names like Hatesphere and Hard Rock Power Spray scare you away, don't fret - Apres organizer Jon Campbell swears they're the some of the biggest names on the Danish metal circuit - possibly of the greater Nordic circuit! If that's not enough to get you interested, take comfort in some familiar names: opening slots for Ruins and Subs, two of Beijing's finest bands, and a rare showing in the capital for Shanghai tricksters Top Floor Circus should be highlights of this lean, mean mini-Midi.

May 25-30

Nine Gates Jazz Festival

A newcomer to the May Festival season, you may remember Nine Gates from last August, when nearly every local jazz band emerged to fill the Forbidden City Concert Hall for three nights. It's organized by long-standing Beijing jazz bassist Huang Yong - who plays in, among others, The Golden Buddha Jazz Unit, the Liu Yue Trio, and Liu Yuan's quartet - with an eye towards the glory days of the now-defunct Beijing International Jazz festival. Nine Gates offers Beijing the chance to show off its jazz standing in the world.

This year's lineup includes many local favorites, returning from last year: local jazz giants Liu Yuan and The Golden Buddha, of course, as well as laowai-led outfits Ah-Q Jazz Arkestra and Junglecat. Branching out into international waters this year, the festival also welcomes acclaimed French violinist Didier Lockwood and his band, the George Garanian big band, and the Philipp Nykrin Trio.

Through May 5

D-22 First Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe this little two-level Wudaokou music haunt has only been on the radar for a year - but what a year it's been. Anyone who doubts the impact of a certain mild-mannered Beida economics professor on the Beijing music scene need only look toward the growing strain of experimentalism running through any of their numerous "house" bands -and with more and more of the new music generation calling D-22 their home, it's been enough to move the heart of Beijing's live music scene out to the west side.

Their non-stop, ten-day anniversary bash starts in late April with a slew of out-of-towners. The club rolls on into a five-day binge for the May holiday, including PK14s first local gig of 2007 (supported by D-22 regulars Houhai Sharks, Carsick Cars, Scoff and Casino Demon), a special night of Chinese street-punk bands, and a night of noise-rock featuring musicians from China, Korea, and Japan.