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Festival on a high note

Updated: 2012-05-11 09:19
By Chen Nan ( China Daily)

Festival on a high note

The upcoming China Music Valley International Music Festival is set to be bigger and better, and more international than the highly rated 2011 event. Chen Nan reports in Beijing.

Gao Nan was inspired to attend the debut of the China Music Valley International Music Festival in 2011 after seeing a subway poster promoting its bands, including Avril Lavigne, Editors and Little Boots. "When I saw the lineup, I couldn't believe my eyes. They are the most popular and energetic bands in the world," says the 28-year-old Gao, who works at a Beijing-based IT company. "They were some of the best performances I have ever seen. They rocked that day."

Gao adds the ticket prices were a reasonable 360 yuan ($57) for a two-day event, with free shuttle buses transferring rock fans from Pinggu district, where the music festival was held, to downtown Beijing.

"Usually, I pay 500-600 yuan for a concert," he says.

He hopes the happy experience will be repeated for the 2012 China Music Valley International Music Festival, to be held from May 18-20 at Yuyang International Ski Resort in the northern outskirts of Beijing. Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain will headline, along with School of Seven Bells and post-punk outfit White Lies. Other headliners include Pixie Lott and Joss Stone, Glasvegas and the Finnish band Husky Rescue. Local rock heroes, such as Wang Feng and Xu Wei, will appear, along with indie bands, such as Mavis Fan & 100% from Taiwan and Beijing-based Super VC.

Gao says he attended three outdoor music festivals in Beijing during the recent May Day holiday but was disappointed by transport at Midi Music Festival, which was staged on the outskirts of Shunyi district.

"I spent two hours getting there from downtown, which was exhausting," he says.

He spent a day at Strawberry Music Festival but couldn't bear the poor sound quality and lack of cell phone signal.

He says the Chaoyang International Pop Music Festival surprised him. The visual and sound effects were great and the lineup, which included long-time-no-see singer-songwriter Pu Shu, impressed him.

Xin Rui, a 24-year-old public servant who attended the 2011 China Music Valley International Music Festival with friends says the festival was a pleasant surprise. She's a big fan of Avril Lavigne and liked many of the acts she discovered at the festival, such as American retro-rock band Rooney and the minor acts.

It was organizer Beijing Gehua Live Nation Company's first outdoor music fest. More than 30,000 attended, and they expect double this year.

General manager Wei Ming says they only sold tickets for 10 days in 2011, and the promotion is better this year.

The festival, which receives government support, will have a venue that is three times bigger, and there will be more food stands and amenities.

In 2011, the company brought to China such acts as Bob Dylan and the Eagles. They will leverage their experience with foreign performers for the 2012 music festival and claim to have approached 50 foreign acts.

"We try to bring the best," Wang says, adding it took three months of negotiations to secure The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Wei says: "It will be their first show in China, following their reunion in 2007. Therefore, their agent was very cautious. They asked for very detailed information and googled the venue."

Joss Stone, whose 2004 hit You Had Me shot her to stardom, will - as usual - perform barefoot. She tells China Daily through e-mail: "When I don't wear shoes, I can move more freely around the stage without having to worry about tripping."

The British singer-songwriter will play a mix of her old soulful stuff and new songs. "I want people to turn up for the shows and have a lovely time and feel something from my music," the 25-year-old singer-songwriter says.

The 2012 festival will have three stages, DJs and electronic performances. Interviews with bands and singers will be broadcast. The goal, Wei says, is to develop the event into a world-class outdoor music festival, such as Japan's Fuji Rock.

"You get the feeling that music festivals in China are not just presenting music but also upgrading their services," says Zhang Youdai, a DJ who attended the festival in 2011.

"If you want to make them last, you have to do your homework and check out the needs of the fans. After all, attending an outdoor music festival is a lifestyle now."

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