Monday, April 28, 2008

Losing Midi

There had been some disturbing rumours floating around for a few days, but we finally heard last Tuesday that the great party event of the May holiday, the Midi Music Festival, had been cancelled - allegedly because "there aren't enough policemen available this year to ensure that it can be run safely". (No, of course not: they're all too busy harrassing "dissidents" and organising anti-foreigner rallies!)

This would have been the 8th or 9th staging of the Festival, and over the past few years it has grown into the biggest open-air rock'n'roll event in China. This year we had been promised no fewer than 6 stages (last year, I think, there were only 4). It still doesn't attract any really big names from overseas (this year there was to have been a heavy preponderance of obscure Scandinavian metal bands - Mando Diao? Debauchery??), but it's a great showcase for local bands; and there are often some pleasant surprises in the mix (2 or 3 years ago there was a really awesome Korean day; the Koreans seem to do rock'n'roll really well - I assume because they have grown up with the music as a result of the American military presence there...... whereas China has only really begun to discover the music during the past couple of decades). Most of my friends had been looking forward to this as the highlight of the forthcoming Labour Day holiday week (well, only a half a week this year, but still better than a poke in the eye with a truncheon.....).

I shouldn't have been surprised. The Chinese authorities are famously suspicious of the subversive power of music. And, of course, of the dangers of allowing large numbers of people to gather together in public places (especially if a lot of those people are foreigners). And in general, they're just inimical to the idea of fun. And there is, no doubt, a body of opinion within the Ministry of Culture that is convinced that all the Tibetan troubles were sparked off by Bjork's little outburst in Shanghai a couple of months back. I have an American friend who is a music promoter out here, and he's been having the dickens of a time getting any shows on since then; I rather fear that his business is now going to be in complete hiatus for the next 5 months. That's the Olympics for you!

BOO to the Beijing government!!

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