Should I stay or should I go?
One could not be blamed for holding back on enthusiasm and anticipation in the face of yet another music festival in Chengdu. The Zebra music festival that promised so much when launched in 2009, quickly disintegrated into possibly the worst organized festival on the planet in just four years. The mistakes of Zebra are obvious, without supporting Chinese rock/indie/alternative bands the festival failed to take its place amongst those serious about music in this country. Without the funding for a full line up of big name acts the festival also failed to capture the imagination of the pop music consuming public. Away from the acts the organization was poor, little in terms of entertainment, nothing in terms of art and a ticketing policy that made those camping at the festival get to experience what life inside a military prison might be like.
You may be asking yourself why I’m banging on about Zebra in what is supposed to be a preview to Big Love. Well the popularity of Big Love will suffer from Zebra’s past failures. The music going community may well take a ‘once bitten twice shy’ approach to this festival, this is certainly the feeling I get amongst the people I have spoken to so far. However, there are plenty of reasons that this festival has the potential to be worlds apart from the horror show in poly park.
The first thing that immediately grabs my attention is the line-up, it is huge. Each of the four days is ram-packed with quality acts from local rock bands such as 48V and Amnesiac to pop music heavyweights Cui Jian and HALA. Whilst there is not the time to go into too much detail here, it appears there is something for everybody whether it be dance, pop, rock, indie or folk music that floats your boat. On top of all this there are a few imported treats on display such as Ash, Suede, Blue and Extreme. Whilst Blue may be there for novelty value, I can assure you that Ash and Suede are the real deal and put on great live performances.
As for organization, if the literature is to be believed, they seem to be getting it spot on. The venue is better, and so are the stages and so to the promotion, advertisements can be seen all over town. Whilst we cannot be sure about how well run the festival is until we actually attend, one thing that leads me to believe the guys at Big Love are serious are the tickets. As I type this I have beside me a ticket for Friday, it is not a paper ticket but a wrist band which contains a micro-chip that needs to be worn during the festival. This is made by the same company that provides wrist bands for European and American festivals. It may sound trivial but the attention to detail is important and if this stops campers being woken at 8am by ignorant body guards, then fantastic.
The only I drawback I can see to this festival is the ticket price, at 800 RMB for a four day camping pass and 298 for a single day pass, it certainly is not cheap. That’s not to say that there are not people who can afford 800 kuai in Chengdu, however, to create a true atmosphere and to gain a true reputation on the music scene it needs to be accessible to young people in particular students. These people simply cannot afford the 800 price tag, a quick look on Weibo tells you the story, underneath an advertisement there are streams of comments saying 太贵去不起 白白！(too expensive can't afford to go)。Most of you reading this will have spent a great deal more attending shows in your own countries so I would suggest that for a full weekend of music the price is truly worth it.
Whatever this turns out to be it is sure to be another significant chapter in the story of live music in this city we love so much. We at Chengdumusic.com will all be there so look out for interviews, reviews and pics over the coming weeks. We highly recommend you make the effort to come along and be part of history. If you can’t afford the whole weekend, why not pop along for a day, sure you’ll probably spend the same amount in a shit bar.
Hope to see you there.
The Big Love music festival takes place in the North East of Chengdu form June 21st – 24th. More information can be found here.
Information about how to win one of 5 tickets on this site can be found here.