Cyncism and hating aside, I had loads of fun at the 20th annual MIDI music festival. Always better to have a music festival than not. We got Century Park, rough uncles cursing and hawking cans of beer, mismatched tuna x sausage hot dogs, bands, DJs, the worst MCs ever, a mix of peeps, and a big sun. Mix that with cheap Jager plus a bottle of Soju and that’s a grand day.
Highlights were Chinese nu-metal band Twisted Machine, Conrank, and Beijing’s Nova Heart. A lot of hype surrounds Nova Heart, and I constantly get emails from their label FakeMusicMedia informing me of their tour-dates in Europe. They live up to the hype. With a simple arrangement of drummer, guitarist, and charismatic singer Helen Feng, (plus some synths and drum machines i’m guessing? couldn’t see), they played the best show of the festival. Wayyyy better than the Chinese “reggae” band before them, whose set was like a “coolest songs from every genre” CD only available through special TV offers after 3am. Like “hey let’s play a rockin ska song now! ” “How bout a blues tune? But let’s throw in some random instruments.” This set was something a group of recovering drug addicts would rehearse for three months and play at a community center. This was like a bad version of my friend’s high school band 9mm, but played by grown fucking men, at a festival. Afterwards, I saw a pop-punk band with a ten-year old drummer at the JZ School Stage and that kid had more rock-and-roll in him than that whole “reggae” band.
I’ve been lost in electronic music and hip hop for a while, but I bet tweens in America rage way harder to brostep these days than rock. Chinese nu-metal rockers Twisted Machine brought back the spirit of nu-metal/ ragin’ late-90s music for sure, with snarled lyrics like “没人给你面子，别关他们的想法!” (No one gives you face, so don’t care what other people think). People danced, sang along, moshed, and ran around with giant flags. What’s up with the flags? At every Chinese music festival, some people just run around with big flags. Anyway, Twisted Machine sounded a lot like Limb Bizkit/other nu-metal bands, whereas Nova Heart were just in their own lane so they’re my pick.
As for the electronic stage, my good friend Conrank rocked out as hard as any of these bands but as a one man show – rapping, hypeman-ing, dancing, scratching, DJing, and getting crunk. He played much less drum and bass than usual and started off with Bone Crusher’s “Never Scarred” then into a lot of original trap productions, some jungle, some knife-y dubstep that i didn’t mind, and more hip hop. All that while climbing and jumping on and around the stage, screaming, and never falling or missing a beat. It felt like dude could have had a heart attack at any moment. Wish the soundsystem was bigger, but only for his set.
Other thoughts on the festival. Hey it’s 2013 – don’t need some Eastern Europeans to walk around/dance on stilts dressed up “silly” or “high” at the show. Especially with the ?? DJ playing banging techno at like 3PM on a Sunday. Shit is mad corny. I’m happy to pay their RMB100/day salary to have them NOT dress up and walk around on stilts.
By the electronic stage, why did MIDI place [only???] three portable-toilets facing a road where cars hauling garbage and everything else, so that peeps wait ten minutes to pee while stepping out of the way for little and big cars passing by? Couldn’t have just turned them around 180 degrees so people could line up in the grass? Makes no sense.
Ok so the worst part of the electronic stage, aside from Donny from Donny Does China acting completely fucking retarded and crowd-surfing with a live duck (fuck that), the wackness level of the MCing was higher than any Beijing pollution index. See, there’s been a bit of a White Rapper Renaissance in The West. I’ve been living in Asia, but I still feel its effects. Now not only do a lot more white people think they can rap, they’re so confused and think an audience of hundreds at a music festival wants muttered lines like “I’m bout to be rappin all over town…” and “I don’t wanna see anyone cry.”
Dude, you’re “bout to be rappin all over town” ?? You’re on stage, at a festival, screaming at people to make some noise. What are you talking about?
See, the combination of The White Rapper Renaissance, plus sketchy designer drugs and cheap cigs, has lead some to believe that they can and should rap at a music festival. No no no. Stay off the pills, learn how to hold a microphone, and get some skills [end verse]. Actually, these kids couldn’t become good rappers even with Shaolin training so they should stick to backseats and living rooms and never rap at festivals. Shit basically ruined Steven Lorenz’s set but it’s like watching a car on fire because you can’t look away. Thank god Charlie was there to contrast some real MCing with the abundant wackness.
So including those rappers, the lowlight of the whole festival was unquestionably the culture-hub/cult “The Mansion,” with their “New World Party” shirts and “THE MANSION” stickers and flag. Are you fucking serial? This shit is a real life B-movie yo. I could say more, but I digress. I’m almost grateful that The Mansion pushes these peeps away from central Shanghai and out into the suburbs. It’s like white-flight but for wack kids who think they’re doing something important.
So, rock trumped electronic this year for sure, and I almost wanna put Conrank in the rock category.
I hope someone more competent and sane runs the electronic stage next year.
Overall Score: 8 Nongfu Shans out of 10, because that reggae band sucked and I had to watch grimey kids from the Mansions put stickers on people. Ironic that kids who live in a mansion look like fright-train hitchhikers. Oh, and because I overheard some Western girl say “rock music? i don’t know how to dance to that.” Glad I was born in the 80s and lived through Limp Bizkit instead of some candy-ass Sufjan Stevens fake rock and roll.