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Fall 2016 Shanghai Music Festival Guide

The big list of music festivals happening in Shanghai over the next month or two. For those about to rock...
Last updated: 2016-09-05
It's that time of year again, celebration generation. Make sure you get yourself sorted for E's and whizz and check out one or several (or none, hey, whatever, just do you) of the 900 music festivals happening in and around Shanghai for the next two months or so.

In brief: perfect storm weekend is September 15 to September 17, with not one, not two, but three large scale music events going down at the very same time. Decisions, decisions right!

As always, be safe kids. Stay away from the brown acid. (Or don't, hey, whatever, just do you.)


Donghi Music Festival

September 9 - September 11 @ Zhujiajian on the Zhoushan Islands

Tickets: 150rmb for a single day; 400rmb for three days, all-in. Purchase tickets right here.

What's the deal: A beach music festival on the Zhoushan Islands, which is four hours by bus outside of Shanghai. They've got four stages of music -- modern rock, dance music, and folk -- against an ocean backdrop and actual sand underneath your feet. You're going to want to be hitting multiple days for this one, renting a tent on site and camping on the beach. For transport and logistical information hit up WeChat id: donghifestival, and they'll send you a nice WeChat thing with everything you need.

Line-up highlights: Along with the usual suspects in Chinese legacy rock festival headliners -- Xiao He, Xie Tian Xiao, and Muma -- they've got nice representation from Shanghai and Beijing's dance music scene -- Howell, Soulspeak, Misloop, MIIIA, Heatwolves, Faded Ghost -- and a few younger rock acts like Beijing post punks Streets Kill Strange Animals. Lending an international pedigree to the thing is Berghain resident Boris and techno twosome Slam.

What sounds good: Well, it's on a beach. Which is nice. They've got that beautiful ocean background. And it's a nice selection of music, with plenty of respect shown to Shanghai's DJ scene. Good stuff. Camping on the beach sounds like fun, too.

Concrete & Grass

September 16 - September 17 @ Shanghai Rugby Football Club

Tickets: 230rmb per day; purchase tickets right here.

What's the deal: Well, lookie here, it's our old pals Split Works and they've brought us a new music festival. From the ashes of "Echo Park" comes “Concrete & Grass", two days of music and more at this outdoor festival at the Rugby Club. Pretty much every music genre ever is represented: sex scandal-wave pop, emo, folk, metal, shoegaze, hip hop, Conrank, and more. Along with the music, expect art, food, sports, games, and ice cream. (!) Split Works are like horse whisperers for white people in Shanghai. You and all your friends are going, yeah?

Line-up highlights: It's a really wide-reaching line-up of music but the hip hop is strong with this one: A$AP Ferg, DJ Premier, Little Simz, DJ Craze are all sharing a stage and a day. That's huge. For the aging college rocker in me though, it begins and ends with two words: Stephen. Malkmus.

Out on my skateboard the night is just humming...

What sounds good: The line-up is actually fresh. A lot of Chinese festivals recycle the same five or six Beijing acts whose most productive years are a decade or two in the rear-view mirror. International acts are expensive, difficult to host, and often don't translate into ticket sales at the gates. A lot of these Concrete & Grass acts, however, have never performed in China before. Good for Split Works for being creative and putting together something we haven't seen before.

They've also made it really family friendly. It's not just for bombed 22-year-olds. You can be your nice, old, boring, mature, having-a-real-job self with no shame, and go ahead bring your terrible, awful, insufferable children to this one too, and you'll all have a good time.

Shalanaya Open Air Electronic Festival

September 15 - September 17 @ Zhujiazhao

Tickets: Three days pre-sales are 280rmb until 12am on September 15. Available by scanning the QR code on the flyer (link above) or on Yoopay; three days at the gate is 350rmb. Tent rental also available.

What's the deal: Not for the faint of heart but definitely for the free of spirit, the Shalanaya Open Air Festival returns with 48 hours of non-stop trance, techno, and chill-out music on multiple stages, camping out in the wilds of Zhujiazhao. That's right: PSYTRANCE FESTIVAL. The tag line is "Find Your True Self", which means "paint a bunch of neon warpaint on your zonked out, freakie deakie ass and try not to light yourself on fire spinning that flame stick."

All the logistical info you need is right here and right here.

Line-up highlights: Um. See for yourself. Not going to front: I'm a little out of my element here. Oh, Atoned Splendor. I know that dude. That's the highlight then. Atoned Splendor.

What sounds good: You gotta hand it to psytrance kids. When they go, they go 100% hard in the paint. In addition to the music, they've got art installations, drum circles, a market, bonfires, workshops, yoga, vegetarian food, "flow arts" (wtf?), a "geodesic dome" (super WTF), and more. Sounds like madness. Or catharsis. Or epiphany. Plus psytrance hippies are always really nice too. Expect sunny vibes from people totally keyed into the primordial life force.

NOTE: The Moma Festival has been postponed to October due to "bad weather".

MOMA Festival

September 15 - September 16 @ Century Park

Tickets: Pre-sale tickets are 200rmb. It's 260rmb at the door per day. Three-day pre-sale tickets are 300rmb; 400rmb at the door. Tickets available right here.

What's the deal: With an emphasis on "bringing green music to the crowds", the Moma Festival returns to Century Park with two live music stages and a DJ stage. 50 artists over two days in a convenient location. No fuss, no muss. They're also promising "food, graffiti art, sports, games, VR devices". Hey, that's alright.

Line-up highlights: Perennial China favorites, goth rockers Lacrimosa headlines the first day. Brit pop legacy act Suede headlines the second. The Fleshtones. Another standout: Beijing's brightest boys Carsick Cars are playing that first day as well. Full line-up right here.

What sounds good: The convenience, really. It's in Century Park. Hmmmm, any Suede fans out there?

Zebra Music Festival

September 24 - September 25 @ Xuhui Bingjiang Green Space

Tickets: One-day pre-sale is 198rmb; two-day pre-sale is 298rmb. Same price at the door. Pre-sale tickets available here.

What's the deal: Formerly a big Chinese rock festival out of Chengdu, in recent years Zebra has unabashedly courted the mainstream pop music market, hosting in big-time Canto and Taiwan pop stars to perform for hordes of screaming and sobbing fans. They're back in Shanghai again this year with two days of music and a cavalcade of teen idols playing up on the big stage.

Line-up highlights: It's like a who's who of people whose faces adorn my ice cream popsicle wrappers. All your favorites are here: Taiwanese super star Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), hot Shanghainese "fresh young meat" Xiao Xian Rou (许魏洲), RnB singer Coco Lee (李玟), Chinese morning musume girl group SNH48. HOT DAMN. LOOKS SWEET.

Oh, and look at that! Shanghai cock rock band par excellence Round Eye is also playing! Way to go, boys! Hitting the big time!

What sounds good: Round Eye seriously bumming out about 45,000 13-year-olds. I'd pay to see that.

Storm Festival

October 1 - October 2 @ Shendi Ecology Park

Tickets: One-day tickets are 380rmb and two-day passes are 680rmb. DJ, spin that ticket link back.

What's the deal: Storm Festival. Get your hands up. Can you feel it, Shanghai. I love you, Shanghai. Can you feel it. Feel the music, Shanghai. Let me hear you scream! Can you feel it, Shanghai? Get your hands up! Getcha hands up! Here we go! Here we go, Shanghai! I love you, Shanghai! Scream for me, Shanghai!

DROP. Whobzhwnfnfain! Bzzz bzzzz bzz! Blaaerhrhbfaf!

Storm festival is China's biggest EDM festival with the worlds biggest DJs playing on a stage that looks like the final level in Contra. Two days. It's big and absurd and back this year, bigger and absurder than ever.

Line-up highlights: They've released PHASE ONE of the line up -- that's just how they do things these days, it's PHASE ONE -- and we're on for Hardwell, Skrillex, Alesso, Oliver Heldens, Duke Dumont, RL Grime.

What sounds good: ALL OF IT REALLY. Nah, but yeah. If you're a fan of the music and this type of show, you're going anyways. You don't really need me to sell it to you. If you're not into the whole EDM trip, it might be worth checking out just to experience the sheer audacity of it all.

I used to be "with it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me...

...and it'll happen to you, too.

Simple Life Festival

October 4 - October 6 @ Expo Park

Tickets: One-day tickets are 230rmb per-sale and 300rmb at the door. Three-day pre-sale tickets are 650rmb. Tickets available right here.

What's the deal: Another one for the kids, Simple Life Festival offers up four stages of Chinese homegrown pop and rock for the post-'80s generation. Lots of inoffensive, precious indie jangle pop tunage for university kids on dates to enjoy in the summer evening. And, really, what finer thing in the world is there than that? E'rybody's going to be holding hands at this one. It's also out there at Expo Park, a fine park for a pop festival.

Line-up highlights: Escape Plan. Perdel. Nova Heart. Hush. 16 mins. And some famous pop stars that sail benignly over my head. Full line-up here.

What sounds good: Um. How many more of these damn things are there. Getting serious carpel tunnel. Well. Let's see. I like Nova Heart. And it looks like they're doing a set with Beijing techno/house DJ of note and acclaim Mickey Zhang on the last day. That could be real interesting. Thumbs up on that.

JZ Festival 2016

October 15 - October 16 @ Expo Park

Tickets: Pre-sale tickets are 260rmb per-day, available now right here.

What's the deal: What can you say about the JZ Festival? Because of its history, its solid programming, its consistency, and its execution, it's the large-scale music event of the year in Shanghai. Even if you're not that into jazz, it's a solid afternoon out in the park.

Line-up highlights: They’re parceling out the headliner acts, recently releasing the information that elite jazz trumpeter, six-time Grammy winner, and former Frank Zappa band member Randy Brecker will be performing. Dude played with Zappa. Neat. More information as we get it.

What sounds good: From rock, jazz, folk, blues, and electronica, its always an eclectic mix of artists from around the world, many of whom can boast 30, 40, 50+ year careers. Previous editions have seen in Joss Stone, John Scofield, Bootsy Collins, Earth, Wind and Fire, Pat Metheny, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Tower of Power, Roy Ayers, and more.

Luminaries, I tell ya! Luminaries in the park.

Bonus round...

INTRO Festival

What's the deal: As of this writing, the information for this one hasn't even been released yet, but we'll drop it here anyways and update it later when (or "if" rather) it is. Beijing's beloved dance music festival INTRO is allegedly making its Shanghai debut on October 29 on our lovely city. For Beijing's electronic music / DJ scene, this is pretty much the event of the year in a city that tends to like its rock more so than its techno. More information as we get it...


Thanks to Rhiannon F. for research assistance.