Zhang Fan can never forget the first Midi Music Festival of 2000. It saw around 20 bands all outfitted in skinny jeans and leather jackets, cheered on by some 2,000 people just as young as the band members.
"Most performers were students of the Midi Music School and the two-day music festival felt more like a graduation ceremony.
"But we recognized the passion and that drove us to hold the music festival the next year," recalls Zhang, head of the Midi Music School, which has incubated such famous mainland rock bands as Miserable Faith and The Face.
The festival later moved out of the campus to public spaces, such as Beijing's Fragrant Hills in 2002, and Haidian Park and Chaoyang Park from 2003.
Zhang says he never imagined that what started as a school event would grow into an influential music festival attracting 20,000 to 30,000 fans annually.
This year, the oldest music festival label in the country will move to Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, for the second time, during the October holiday.
But before that, it will go to Changsha, Hunan province, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, to give a warm-up performance at the 2010 Orange Isle Music Festival from Sept 22 to 24, at Orange Island Sand Sculpture Park, located in the middle of the Xiangjiang River.
As usual, the music festival will see 30 indie rock bands, such as Brain Failure, Super Mario, folk singers like Ma Tiao and Hong Qi, and established rock stars Wang Feng and Tang Dynasty.
The festival will also see Mavis Fan and her band on the first day. The 32-year-old singer-songwriter has shaken off her innocent-girl image since becoming a singer at 14. With her rock appearance, complete with heavy-metal accessories, body-piercings and tattoos, the alternative rocker will show off both her wild looks as well as her rock music.
Foreign acts, including The Cave Singers, an indie folk band from Seattle, and American thrash metal band, Exodus, will also share the stage.
It was Midi that kicked off the nation's large-scale outdoor music festival trend of the past 10 years.
"It's great to see more than 40 outdoor music festivals being held across the nation this year. Going to one is becoming a lifestyle choice for many people. Such festivals are key to the future of the local music industry," Zhang says.
"People are willing to drive thousands of miles just for a three-day music festival because they love the experience.
"We have stepped out of Beijing to cater to more rock souls looking for rock music and the outdoor music festival culture," says Zhang, who was impressed by the reception they received in Zhenjiang last year.
The support from local government is crucial to the success of the outdoor music scene, he adds.
"Many music festivals still cannot make ends meet." he says.
"We are 40 years behind Woodstock, so it will take time to make things better."