Monday, October 04, 2010

Saturday in the Park (sans Frenchmen)

I went to Chaoyang Park on Saturday to check out Pilot Records' Inter City Music Festival there.

Of course, it took me 30 or 40 minutes to locate the venue.  The park is absolutely friggin' HUGE.  The paths are all rather serpentine, which tends to throw off one's sense of direction.  There's such a profusion of trees now (they planted thousands of extra ones back in '08, when the Olympic Beach Volleyball venue was set up there) that you can rarely see more than 50 metres in any direction.  And there is, of course, no worthwhile signage anywhere.  Trying to get to the festival before it started would be next to impossible (unless, like me, you've been to previous such events in the park, and can remember fairly accurately where to go): you have to home in on the noise of the music.

Ah yes, and the venue is right in the middle of the park at the north end: the most inaccessible spot, at least a kilometre from any of the entrances.

I don't think there's an entrance on the north side of the park at all.  The entrance on the east side might be a tad closer to the venue, but it's much further away from where I live, and awkward of access off the 4th Ringroad.  The entrance on the south side is not to be recommended, since you have to make your way through the amphitheatre and the labyrinth of tacky sideshow stalls beside the amusement park area (crowds of dithering Chinese promenaders, too much hubbub to locate the source of the music beyond).  And most of the entrances on the west side seem to be out of action (well, one is closed - probably permanently - as a new building is put up; and one serves only the Chaoyang Olympic Club, which is now completely fenced off from the rest of the park [a new development, that, I think; and not something warned of on any signs anywhere that I could see]).  So, finding a suitable way into the park is challenge enough; and then you have to walk 10 or 15 minutes - completely blind - to find the venue itself.

And for what?  Pilot Records, I'm sure, will do a much better job of organisation than the concussed bees of Modern Sky over in Haidian Park, but... the lineup of bands is really pretty thin; and the tickets are expensive.  The only band I'd really been intrigued about was the Nitwits - who I had thought would be this rather fun Californian ska-punk band, but were described in some of the promo material as a French group, so perhaps they were someone else entirely.  Or maybe the promo stuff was just wrong??  Anyway, they got cancelled[Ah, apparently it was these guys, and they are French, and they describe their music as 'Rock Ambolesque' - which I think means something like 'eclectic'.  And they did play after all, though not till around 6pm.  Nice of them to drop by and say hi in the comments below.  I'll make sure to catch them if they come here again.] The Chinese bands slated for that day were all pretty ho-hum (and too familiar).  I listened from outside for 40 or 50 minutes and was not inspired to shell out my entrance fee.  The day's headliners were to be an American outfit called Rooney - who seem to be rather bland popsters (What good can come of naming yourself after an English footballer??  Well, OK, they claim they name themselves after the vengeful high school principal played by Jeffrey Jones in Ferris Bueller's Day Off - but who now gets that reference?  Bad band naming any way you look at it!).  They would have been a pretty lame incentive to stick around in any circumstances - but given that it was arse-freezing cold and the sky was threatening rain (which did materialise, albeit not very heavily, by mid-afternoon), I decided to cut my losses and get the hell out of there.

I'm hoping that today's show in Haidian Park will be more worthwhile.  The weather's looking fine, they have very nearly every Chinese band I like slated to play (SUBS, Oxygen Can, Omnipotent Youth Society [dreadful name but a good band!], XTX) and the foreign headliners are the interesting sounding Blonde Redhead.  Here we go.....


Nitwits said...

Hello :)

Actually we did play on the 10/2, but due to some passport issue, we played on the small stage around 6pm, and yes, we are french.



Froog said...

Gosh, well - sorry I missed you. Hope you had a fun show, despite the lousy weather.

The signs outside were saying you were off the bill. Pity.

Nitwits said...

No problem. The tour was incredible and the show in Beijing very cool. Maybe we'll meet each other during another tour ;)

Froog said...

You know, I begin to doubt if anyone caught the Sondheim reference...