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Music Festival Strikes up the Bands in Beijing

Music lovers have something other than crowded trains and buses to look forward to this National Day week. The annual Midi Modern Music Festival will jumpstart the holidays with some 46 bands from around the world rocking in Beijing from October 1 to 4.

The bands performing at this year's festival cover a range of genres, from hard rock to blues to experimental. Some of the local acts include Heaven (Hard Rock), Hang-on-the-box (Punk), Confucius Says (Indie), The Verse (British Pop), Xie Tianxiao & The Cold-blood Animals (Grunge), Chunqiu (Progress Rock), Tomahawk (Death Metal), Buyi (Folk), and Sand (Blues).

Some of the international bands scheduled to perform include Something to Burn (the United States), The Load of Mushroom (France), Blister (Norway), World on a String (Denmark), Amores Perros (Sweden) and Hot Little Rocket (Canada).

This year's festival also has a little something extra to offer. In addition to the main stage, a special area has been prepared where experimental music aficionados can lose themselves. Called The Mini Midi, the music on offer here will be of the experimental, improvisational and electronic music genres. On this stage, artists such as Yan Jun, Fm3, Wang Fan, 718 will show off their new wave talents. The legendary Staalplaat Soundsystem from Germany will do the Mini Midi grand finale on October 3.

History of the Festival

The Midi Modern Music Festival grew out of the hallowed halls of the Beijing Midi School of Music, located at the foot of Fragrant Hill, in 2000. It started out as a students' recital. The first two festivals were held in the school auditorium during the May Day holidays and attracted some 40 bands and thousands of fans and would-be groupies.

Because of its growing popularity, the school decided to move the festival out of the auditorium and onto the playground in 2002. The media attention it received shocked even the organizers. The likes of the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as local media, gave the event extensive coverage. It attracted about 8,000 people each day and over 50 bands from all over the country. It was such a success that it was dubbed China's first open-air rock festival. Nanfang Daily, a domestic newspaper, went so far as to describe it as a bridge between China's Gen X and the government.

In 2003, the festival was postponed due to the outbreak of SARS. Themed "Rock n' Roll Supports Animal Protection", the festival guaranteed its continued influence on China's younger generation of music fans.

The 5th Midi Festival in 2004 was cancelled at the last minute due to public safety concerns. Anxious organizers were finally able to stage the event in October at the Beijing International Sculpture Park, the first time the event was held outside the school.

The audience turnout exceeded 80,000, which opened up a whole new frontier for organizers: marketing and promotions.

Rock on 2005

This year, organizers have broken the tradition of "music for free". Entrance to the festival is by ticket only; 30 yuan for a one-day pass, and 100 yuan for the VIP package, which covers entry for the duration of the festival.

Zhang Fan, headmaster of the Midi school, said they studied music festivals in other parts of the world before they decided on the pricing for Midi.

"The 2004 festival was successful but we lost more than 100,000 yuan, and let's not mention the bands who played for free."

Many rock fans think otherwise. "Last year it was 10 yuan and now it's 30. It's rather expensive. What will it be next year? Midi is not what it used to be," 23-year-old Sun Xiaoxi said.

Address: Haidian Park, No.2 Xinjiangongmen Road, Haidian District, Beijing

Festival's schedule

Time Oct.1 Oct.2 Oct.3 Oct.4
12:30-13:00 Za Yin Zheng Qi Ji
13:15-13:45 Ku Zhu Wu Hang Gai Jianyue Qingren Po Sui Sheng Yin
14:00-14:30 No Matter U Love Me or Not, I Love U Chun Qiu Tian Chu He Ju Bian G
14:45-15:15 Ling Yi Joy Side Dian Fu M Ye Yang Guan Tou
15:30-16:00 Ma Ya Tian Tang Zhao Ze Fan Guang Jing
16:15-16:45 Du Ya Shengyin Suipian Gua Zai He Zi Shang SUBS
17:00-17:30 The Verse Jessica+Junglecat Nao Zhuo Zhi Xi
17:45-18:15 Jun Xie Suo A Xiu Luo AK47 Bing Yong
18:30-19:00 Something to Burn Zhan Fu Sheng Yin Wan Ju The Load of Mushroom
19:15-19:45 DJ Sha Zi Mu Ma Fei Xu
20:00-20:30 Hot Little Rocket Amores Perros World on a String Blister
20:45-21:15 Bu Yi Xie Tianxiao Tongku de Xinyang Ye Cha

(China.org.cn by Li Xiao September 30, 2005)

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