Ok so I’ve been to several music festivals before in China, but I’d thought I’d write about my experiences regarding one particular festival which I attended late last May. This one was called the Dreamer Indie Festival (or the Indie Dreamer Festival, I can’t remember which), and was relatively well-publicised across Beijing. It wasn’t as large scale as Strawberry, Midi or Outlook, as it only had two stages and a handful of semi-known acts, a few of which were from overseas. On a side note, the best festival I’ve been to in China was the 2011 KAMA Love Music Festival. It didn’t get put on in 2012 or 2013 for whatever reason, though seeing The Eels play just down the road from where I lived was a real treat.
Anyway, let’s crack on with this. Music festivals are a time for fun, which can be enhanced with the injection of alcohol. Following on from my KAMA Love experience where there were endless stalls of wine sellers, beer sellers and so on, I was pretty confident there’d be the same here, so didn’t stock up on any cans prior to entry. When we arrived, there were only about 4 stalls. Fine, I remember thinking to myself, it’s a small affair though somewhere will have beer. We looked and looked, and amid the cries of donut salesman and people selling strange soft toys we only found disappointment. Upon asking an employee, we later found that the authorities had banned the sale of alcohol at the festival. What the f?!!
Ok, so game on. It was a good forty minutes until the first act came on and there was a Carrefour across the street. So I went with a few friends to raid the place and we stocked up on cans of Carlsberg. Happy with our purchases, we re-entered the festival merrily, though we were stopped upon entry by a jobsworth security guard who wanted to see our bags. “NO BEER!” Was his cry as we opened up our bags. After some negotiating in broken Chinese, we did as many Chinese people do to get by these days; we found a loophole. Apparently, liquids were allowed to consumed on sight as long as they were drunk from paper cups supplied at the festival. Bizarre, but whatever. So, it was then that a friend of mine rushed over to a stand to pick up some paper cups, and poured ourselves some drinks. The security guards wouldn’t let us carry out bottles in, so we stood by the entrance for a while filling up on some beer as the festival began to kick off. Luckily, the guard had forgotten that we had more cans in our bags, and presumably fed up with our beer-swilling presence, told us to move along and into the festival grounds. I remember thinking to myself – how China is this? The idea of trying to ban alcohol but there being a ridiculous loophole that lets you get around it, the realisation of which then making those who enforce the rule noting the ridiculousness of the ruling and thus not caring at all.
Anyway, suitably tanked up and having done our fighting of the Man for the day, we proceeded to enjoy the festival. I only came for My Little Airport – a sweet Hong Kong indie-electro group that have some catchy tunes. There some others on show which were ok – bizarre Italian gothic metal band Ataraxia, US singer Sara Lov, and my favourite which had to be Chinese group 万能青年旅店. I’m not sure of their English name, though I think it translates as “Multi-Functional Youth Hostel” or something like that. Except for the acts being rushed off stage (mics were cut during encores) after 30 minute sets, it wasn’t a bad day out, and it only cost 100 RMB anyway.
Tags:Arts & Entertainment Expat Tales
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