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Festival Guide: JZ Festival 2015

Now on their 11th year, Shanghai's sunniest, longest-running music fest returns to the Expo Park this weekend...
Last updated: 2015-11-09

What It Is

This is Shanghai's longest running music festival. What began as a small affair in Fuxing Park has snowballed into a massive yearly gathering in the Expo Park, with sponsorship from BMW and headliners like Bootsy Collins and Mos Def in recent years. Along with Echo Park, JZ is Shanghai's chillest, most family-friendly music festival. You won't find tweens getting turnt up on EDM doing the thizzle dance here, but rather just actual musicians and big sunsets over the bridge.

For a lengthy piece about the history of JZ Festival, check out the interview we did with JZ founder Ren Yuqing last year.

Location, Times, And Getting There

Bass god Victor Wooten plays Saturday and Sunday

JZ Festival happens in the beautiful Expo Park, which is out in Haibaoland where the spirit of 2010 still burns strong. Music goes from 1-10pm on Saturday and Sunday, with doors opening at noon. Here's the address of the park:

Shibo Da Dao, near Changqing Bei Lu,
浦东新区,世博大道, 近长清北路,上海世博公园

Please note: The festival entrance has moved down the street, closer to the metro station. The gate and ticket office are now near the Benz Arena, at Shibo Da Dao, near Shangnan Lu (世博大道1200号, 近上南路).

The Metro: The closest subway station is China Art Museum (Exit 4), which is on Line 8 (you can transfer to that at People's Square, Laoximen, and via a bunch of other lines). Really, you should just take the metro. It's a ten minute walk from there (with street beers on the way), and the metro station has a mini Haibao-museum. But if you insist on taking a cab from downtown, it's probably only 50-70rmb.

Tickets: SmartTicket has finished selling tickets for the festival. Tickets are still available for 280rmb at the door.

Beer & Food: If last year is anything to judge by, prices are super reasonable. Guinness draft (like, from an actual keg, not those draft cans) was 25 or 30rmb last year. Not sure about specific vendors, but expect a mix of Western items and some chuaner

What To Bring

Bring some cash. There's no ATM inside the venue and you can't use cards at most of the vendors. Also, expect temperatures to drop in the evening, so bring a sweatshirt or jacket.

JZ Festival Warm-Up Megamix (Hit Tha' VPN)

Just some videos from the Internet of the standout acts playing there.

1. Long Arm (Saturday, 5.30-6.30pm in the Earth Lounge)

Our man Josh Feola in Beijing says this guy is one to watch. Danceable, avant-garde electronic pop from St. Petersburg. Some have compared this dude to Flying Lotus.

2. Lord Echo (Saturday, 8.30-10pm in the Earth Lounge; Sunday 6.30-7.30pm in the JZ Club)

Endy Chen from Groove Bunny Records booked this guy, so you know he's good. Funky love-pop built for beaches and sunsets. Fans of Tori y Moi take note.

3. Dee Dee Bridgewater (Saturday, 6-7.30pm at The River; Sunday, 5-6.30pm in the Master Hall)

Legend status. Triple Grammy winning NPR host that's been in the game since the '60s.

4. Jfever & Soulspeak (Saturday, 7-8pm in the Earth Lounge)

Some of the hottest hip hop music coming out of Beijing, on the brand new D Force record label run by Douban. Rad video, too.

5. Earth Wind & Fire (Saturday, 8-9.30pm at The River; Sunday, 7.30-9pm in the Master Hall)

You may remember these guys from every wedding DJ set ever.

6. Joss Stone (Saturday, 7.30-9pm in the Master Hall; Sunday, 8-9.30pm at The River)


7. Victor Wooten (Saturday, 5-6.30pm at the Master Hall; Sunday, 6-7.30pm at The River)

"That guy's bass is talking!" While the youth might know Thundercat, this dude is the older bass god. Best YouTube comment on this video: "I heard he once fingered a girl with his thumb. She died." Second best comment: "This is what I call in the back of Dennys in the dumpster type of funk…Wow".

Lineup & Schedule

Lord Echo is one to catch. Saturday evening in the Earth Lounge looks like the place to be

Oddly, most of the headliners are playing both days this year, albeit on different stages. The weather looks sunny on both days, so either are a good call. Please note there are two other stages, including the JZ School and one other. For sake of brevity, we've left those out of this guide, but do check them out. Finally, there is a stage called "JZ Club", which is not to be confused with actual venue JZ Club, which is where the after-party happens.

Saturday, Oct 17

Master Hall
2.30-4pm: Tia Ray
5-6.30pm: Victor Wooten
7.30-9pm: Joss Stone

The River
1.30-2.30pm: The Verse
3-4pm: Isabella Huang
4.30-5.30 Crowd Lu (cool if you're into soft Taiwanese singer-songwriter shiz)
6-7.30pm: Dee Dee Bridgewater
8-9.30pm: The Earth Wind & Fire Experience Featuring The Al Mckay Allstars

Blue Grass
2-3pm: Marianne Trudel Trio "Trifolia"
3.30-4.30pm: Jacques Kuba Séguin "Litania Projekt"
5-6pm: Shangyin Trio & Special Guest Brian Hurley
6.30-7.30pm: Yves Léveillé Quintet "Essences des Bois"
8-9pm: Yannick Rieu Quartet "When jazz meets China"

Earth Lounge
1-2pm: Antonio Serrano and Josemi Carmona
2.30-3.30pm: Running Blue
4-5pm: TTechMak
5.30-6.30pm Long Arm
7-8pm: Jfever & Soulspeak
8.30-10pm: Lord Echo

JZ Club
1.30-2.30pm: Estonian Dream Big Band Featuring Coco Zhao
4-5pm: Nik Bartsch’s Ronin
6.30-7.30pm: Erica Lee

These bros are still alive!

Oct 18

Master Hall
2.30-4pm: Chang Shilei
5-6.30pm: Dee Dee Bridgewater
7.30-9pm: The Earth Wind & Fire Experience Featuring The Al Mckay Allstars

The River
1.30-2.30pm: Project Ace
3-4pm: GaoFunk & G-ELEVEN
4.30-5.30pm: Shunza & The Red Groove Project
6-7.30pm: Victor Wooten
8-9.30pm: Joss Stone

Blue Grass
2-3pm: Ya! Voices
3.30-4.30pm: Mario Trane Trio
5-6pm: Asaf Sirkis Trio
6.30-7.30pm: Return to Mongolia
8-9pm: Drums United

Earth Lounge
1-2pm: Luo Ning Latin Jazz Band
2.30-3.30pm: Redic & The Storm Riders
4-5pm: Tinho's Band
5.30-6.30pm: Charles Pasi
7-8pm: Noukilla
8.30-10pm: JZ Latin Project

JZ Club
1.30-2.30pm Jonas Seetoh
4-5pm: Sebastian Schunke "Berlin Quartet"
6.30-7.30pm: Lord Echo

The After-Parties

Alec Haavik, Coco Zhao, and the JZ Big Band play JZ on Friday night

The after-parties for JZ are huge every year. No promises, but years previous have seen some pretty unprecedented jam sessions on the smaller stages in the city with the festivals featured performers. Great way to (maybe) catch your heroes up close.

The main after-party goes down at the OG JZ Club on Fuxing Lu. On Friday night they've got the JZ Big Band conducted by Alec Haavik ft. Coco Zhao, Saturday is Theo Croker & DVRK FUNK, and Sunday is Batik then Theo Croker & DVRK FUNK again.

For indie rock and disco, the SAY YES party at On Stage on Oct 17 at 10pm is the way to go. They've got The KDMS playing live, Maximilian Skiba playing live, and Murphy Kin DJing. On Sunday, On Stage hosts a "Middle East dance night".

If you're looking for something more chill, local, and folksy, then the after-parties at Wooden Box from 9pm on Saturday and Sunday are probably your best bet. Saturday is more R&B and soul.

And if you're feeling that Latin heat and want some salsa and mambo action, the parties at JZ Latino, also from 9pm on Saturday and Sunday, are the way to go. They have some Bossa Nova on Sunday, too. That spot has one of the nicest, most underrated rooftops in town.

Enjoy. Hats off to JZ for eleven years in the festival game.