THE Strawberry Music Festival is back. With a bunch of indie music artists, rock fans will be treated to a musical feast from May 1-3 in Shanghai and Beijing.
Presented by local record label Modern Sky, the rock festival features five stages at the Expo Park in Shanghai and eight stages at Tongzhou Canal Park in Beijing.
More than 260 bands and artists from home and abroad will bring diverse performances.
To Shen Lihui, founder of Modern Sky, the Strawberry Music Festival is going international in a bid to become China’s biggest rock festival.
“Fans in both Shanghai and Beijing are getting higher taste and being more professional. They are fashionable, young and passionate,” Shen says.
To cater to their growing taste, this year’s event invites 16 international bands and 14 overseas DJs.
“It’s our responsibility to raise the overall level of the music festival to another height. Shanghai, in particular, boasts an audience who are tolerant to all kinds of music,” Shen says.
At both Shanghai and Beijing gigs, French electronic band Justice, Finnish hard-rock band HIM, American post-rock band Explosions in the Sky and many others will perform.
The music extravaganza is expected to draw 240,000 fans during the three days in both cities.
As the most popular outdoor music festival brand in China, the Strawberry Music Festival, founded in 2009, is attracting young people with a standout lineup, internationalized stage settings, firm organization and a high-quality live show experience for the audience.
The highlight this year is definitely the internationally renowned Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung who has signed with Modern Sky and has confirmed to perform at the festival in both Beijing and Shanghai.
This will mark the first time the 49-year-old actress has performed at the Strawberry Music Festival.
“Her appearance on the stage of the music festival has already been a great surprise to fans,” Shen says. “Fans will witness in person the change of Cheung, from being an international actress to being a rocker.”
Cheung’s 5-member band was set up in Beijing and has been rehearsing, according to Shen.
According to Modern Sky, Cheung is taking time to meet with technical staff and consulting on lighting, stage design, sound and many other details.
She reportedly is getting on with her bandmates very well.
She will be singing her own composition on May 1.
The music festival will be her platform to showcase her unique low-pitch vocals and distinctive musical style again, after recent criticism about her singing ability.
Taiwanese singer Cheer Chan and disco queen Zhang Qiang will also perform at the festival.
With a theme of “SNS life is rubbish, get a real life,” this edition encourages people to leave the digital life behind and experience interpersonal contact in real life.
To bring more diversity to the event, a stage called “Strawberry Life House” will be set up in each city. Guests from music, film, sports, art, business, media and lifestyle industries will be invited to give panel discussions.
Gan Peng, a local media professional and columnist, has been invited as a special guest at the “Strawberry Life House.”
“It’s a good way to communicate with fans, rather than just through my writing or by the Internet,” Gan says. “To the music festival, it is another place where the audience can slow down their life pace and enjoy more of the culture.”
This marks the third time that Gan had been invited by the Strawberry Music Festival as a lecturer. As an insider of the city’s music scene, he will address “how idols influence life.”
“Independent music artists are facing a great opportunity today,” Gan says. “Being a public icon or being an idol for the niche market is the same success. The challenge is that how to preserve the independent attitude and spirit in today’s tempting market.”
Based in Shanghai, Gan says the diversity of the city will bring more acceptance of the independent artists.
“Beijing is where most rockers are based, while Shanghai is more diversified and tolerant,” he observes. “It’s not a coincidence that Maggie Cheung chose Shanghai as the city to give her debut at the music festival.”
Gan recommends that fans stay at the festival late into the night if it’s not raining.
“Get dressed and be a scenery at the festival yourself,” he says. “Don’t miss your favorite singers and bands, and enjoy the most passionate rocking ambiance at night.”
How to get there: Metro Line 7 or 8 Yaohua Road Station
Shanghai Midi Festival 2014
More than 60 bands from home and abroad will take to the stage in Shanghai from tomorrow to Sunday at Pudong’s Sanjia Port.
Starting in 2000 as a showcase event for student bands of the Beijing Midi School of Music, the outdoor event quickly became a premier event for Chinese rock and alternative bands to play live.
In 2004, the festival was moved to a public park and became the first open-air rock festival and set the tone for more to come in China.
Now the Midi festival is held several times a year at different locations, including Beijing and Shanghai.
In addition to a wide range of domestic acts, bands set to perform this time include Britpoppers Suede, American funk collective Larry Graham and Graham Center Station, plus German metalheads Lacrimas Profundere and Masterplan.
The coming edition will set authentic British rock classics as a theme. The grand opening show will be one of the top British rock bands, Suede, in both Shanghai and Beijing (May 1-3).
In both cities, Suede will deliver a special performance of its classic second album “Dog Man Star,” released in 1994.
The album is not only widely recognized as a key opus of the 1990s Britpop era but also a masterpiece at the peak of Suede’s creativity. The band will give a special 20-year anniversary concert, playing the album in its entirety.