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[Music Monday]: MIDI & Strawberry 2015 Preview

Sacco's top ten rock picks from this week’s festivals, with music from Killswitch Engage, Fallacy, Dinosaur Jr., Meat Sucks, SNH48, The Hives, and more.
By Apr 27, 2015 Nightlife
Music Monday is a weekly SmartShanghai column, serving up songs from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever). Copyright holders: if you would like your song removed, please contact us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.

Boom. This town just went from zero to hero over night. Nice weather last weekend with tons of good music coming at us this weekend, who could complain right? Well it is supposed to rain Saturday of course, but you should be used to that by now. I’ve spent the past week reviewing every single band playing at Strawberry Festival in Pudong and MiDi Festival in Suzhou. For your listening pleasure I’ve also compiled a simple text list of set times, style of music, origin, and also a Youtube or Douban links for every artist. Look out for that later in the week at the bottom of this page. If you have 3–4 hours to kill at work, this is perfect. For now I'm just focusing on the ten best.

Although Shanghai festivals are far from perfect, you have to admit it’s pretty damn sweet having so many options this weekend. Just hanging out in a nice park with food and scenery is a solid afternoon. Throw in 50 bands and some short shorts in the mix (worn by me of course) and you got yourself a damn fine weekend.

Let’s not dwell on some of the debacles in the past, like last year when Strawberry locked out 70% of the crowd from the Maggie Cheung stage, causing a near riot. Or the year before when one such festival organizer decided it would be a great idea to sell all the beer rights to a Bacardi Breezer’s sickening cousin off brand drink, served warm of course. Then let us all forget when Donnie Does China stage dived into the MIDI crowd with a live goose in hand causing a near Ozzy Osbourne-level international incident. Alright it turns out Donnie and the goose get into a lot of adventures together but that still was not cool.

By my count Strawberry festival has 32 Chinese bands and 25 imported acts. MIDI is right on their heels with 32 Chinese bands and 14 foreign bands. After a week of careful review it’s clear MIDI is for the real rockers of Shanghai. The main "hook act" is metalcore giants Killswitch Engage and the two hour train trip should weed out all those fair weather festival goers not willing to spend more than a 40rmb taxi fee to show off their ironic t-shirt. Strawberry is well balanced between indie rock, Chinese folk, post rock, a bit of metalcore, Tricky, and then their "hook" is Carly Rae Jepsen. Dammit, how did they know that’s my only guilty pleasure on Love Radio 103.7FM?

Before we get into the top 10 highlights of this Strawberry and MIDI let’s spend a moment on the low lights. First and foremost is Austrian jockrock DJ Rokko Ramirez closing out not only the main stage of MIDI on both May 1 and the MIDI second stage on May 2. MIDI goers, get a taste of your magical festival outro. Then also at MIDI don’t miss this little Suzhou based rap rock band playing the coveted 2pm slot on Sunday who go by Pyroglyphix . I literally haven’t stopped watching this trainwreck for four days straight, it haunts my existence.

The Hives (Sweden)

No matter if you are a little cry–yourself–to–sleep indie rocker, a hardcore metal head, or a boring post-rock fan, one thing that can’t be denied is The Hives rock live. Since the early 2000’s these Swedish darlings have been kicking in the teeth of rock fans across the world. Starting with the strong release of Veni Vidi, the band hasn’t strayed from their solid formula of energetic riffs and sharp hooks in these past 15 years. Sure that doesn’t leave much originality from album to album but screw reinventing the band every few years. Let’s kick out the jams mother flipper. The Hives close out Strawberry’s Monday night. It’s no comparison to MiDi’s closing Monday act DJ Rocky Rokko Ramirez, but hey, pick and choose your battles.

The Hives - "Tick Tick Boom"

Rolling Bowling (Beijing)

Also on Friday at Strawberry but way down at 1.30pm on the Love Stage is Beijing Rockabilly kings Rolling Bowling. It’s widely accepted that Rolling Bowling is the real deal when it comes to pure Chinese swing dancing, upright bass playing, tattoo slinging, greaser love. Rolling Bowling just released a vinyl 7” on Genjing Records which will be available at Friday’s Strawberry. This is one of those bands after seeing you think “yeah, maybe I should get a pompadour haircut and sleeve tattoos with naked chicks”. Then in the morning you wake up, look yourself in the mirror and say, “Oh, yeah there is no chance I could pull that off”.

Rolling Bowling - Live at School Bar

Kids Fly (Israel)

One of this year’s surprising treats is a couple of Israel based rock bands that are playing both festivals. My favorite of the two is Tel Aviv act Kids Fly. Originally just a small bedroom production project, Kids Fly has turned into one of Israel’s hottest indie rock acts over the last two years. With strong pop elements, the six-member act also flirts with the psych side of life and I found myself listening to their complete online video collection without even noticing. If you missed them at Inferno last week, check Kids Fly out Saturday at MIDI or Sunday at Strawberry. Getting rights to play these two competing festivals? Now that’s a peace accord.

Kids Fly - "Peeling the Ceiling"

The Fallacy (Xinjiang)

Smashing everything you know about what it means to be a Xinjiang punk band, over the past year The Fallacy has shown there is truth growth up north. For the past 10 years we have seen countless street punk copies of American and British hardcore and Oi! Acts that have the spirit but fail to innovate. Then came the Fallacy with the spirit of 1977 and the relevance of today. I’m sure working with PK 14 frontman Yan Haisong didn’t hurt in developing their current sound. The Fallacy are like no other band in China and I just might make it Saturday at Strawberry Festival for their 4.30pm show.

The Fallacy – "Painkiller"

Colt Silvers(France)

The Colt Silvers are a diamond in the rough of random foreign acts being pumped in by both festivals. Turns out they are French none the less! Yes, an amazing new French indie band that I’ve never heard of but literally love every song by. Alright I could do without the singers lip piercing but I’ll let that slide. The unshaven quartet have been hard at work the past couple years, spewing their unique brand of indie pop and without Strawberry I wouldn’t have ever added them to my "Spring Indie Mix" that I make for my mom every year. Colt Silvers are touring in support of their new album Swords and while I don’t think they will get Coachella festival fame let’s hope they make a couple bucks doing a Perrier commercial.

Colt Silvers – "As We Walk"

Meat Sucks (Wuhan)

No this Wuhan band is not vegetarian, no they are not even political, and yes their name is Meat Sucks. Even more importantly they are not ashamed of their intentionally ironic name and when describing themselves in an interview all that can be said is the band is from Wuhan, they do whatever they want. Usually I do not sign up for the new screamo sound. It’s hard to pinpoint how Meat Sucks got past my screamo filter but I think it has to do with the classic hardcore breakdowns and the singer not trying to overcompensate with deep brooding vocals. It’s hardcore instrumentals with vocals that stay sweet. Hey, that sounds just about right.

Meat Sucks - Live at Soundstage

Killswitch Engage (USA)

If you want to talk about screamo gods then look no further than metalcore giants Killwitch Engage, who play the first day of MIDI Festival. Coming from the deep rooted east coast American hardcore scene and formed from the ashes of classic bands Overcast and Aftershock, these everyday heroes won the respect of metal fans across the globe. Sure, having the title of most respected metalcore band is kind of like winning a beer pong competition (let’s just say it’s not a real sport). Nonetheless, Killswitch Engage’s commitment to solid albums and working class ethics has allowed them to branch out past the average metalcore white trash trailer park fan to become a respectable member of the metal elite. Sure, they recently did some work for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc), but let’s not look at the fans next to us and just listen to those sweet metalcore riffs.

Killswitch Engage – "In Due Time"

Twinkle Star (Beijing)

Another Chinese emo gem is Twinkle Star. They're new to my ears but have been breaking hearts in Beijing since 2008. Founded by guitarist Zhang Shua, a graduate of MIDI Music school, he decided to make his dream full time. It’s no surprise Twinkle Star is playing MIDI on the second day at the coveted 4.20pm spot. The band is filled out by Zhao Meng, who provides the heartfelt broken heart vocals with Lio Chang on the bass. My mind is warped, having spent a week straight listening to the hodgepodge of Russian Folk, Serberian Metal, and Wegur Alt Rock that make up these two festivals, so my ears might not be as sharp as usual, but Twinkle Star just does it for me. Judge for yourself here with this track titled ‘Seize the Day’.

Twinkle Star – "Seize the Day"

Dinosaur Jr. (USA)

It’s fucking Dinosaur Jr. in China. Enough said.

Dinosaur Jr. – "The Wagon"

Residence A (Beijing)

Residence A is yet another indie rock band that has been around for a few years but I just discovered this week. Basically it’s like, what the hell have I been doing with my days? It’s most likely filled with dreaming about the new X-Files instead of seeing what’s in front of my own face. Not to mention Residence A were on countless best of 2014 lists. Anywho, if this is also your first time experiencing the almost-impossible-to-dislike indie rockers that have been tearing up shows in Beijing, then we are in the same boat. Residence A is kicking off the start of MIDI on Friday so make sure to pack that picnic basket the night before, you’re not going to want to miss these kids perform their brand of pure indie rock gold.

Residence A - Live in Fujian

SNH48 (Shanghai)

Alright, my 11th, special bonus pick in this top ten bands of Shanghai’s 2015 festival season is… wait for it… SNH48.

No they are not rock and more importantly they are not even a band. SNH48 is a corporate copy of a Japanese girl pop act with a similar name that has been branded in Korea and finally in Shanghai. Oddly enough they are playing at 12.30pm on Friday at the start of Strawberry Festival. That’s earlier than any other band is starting all three days. Let’s just say if you see a 30-something guy in the front row with sun glasses and a SNH48 t-shirt, that’s surely not me. OMG OMG OMG.

SNH48 – "UZA"


Strawbery Festival

May 1–3 @ Expo Park
Price: 300rmb per day at the door

Getting There: Line 8 To China Art Museum, or a 40–50rmb cab ride from downtown.

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Main Stage

1pm-1:40pm: Mr. Chelonian (Beijing, Folk Rock)
2:10pm-3:10pm: LongShenDao (Beijing, Reggae)
3:40pm-4:40pm: SuYang ( Yinchuan, Folk Rock)
5:10pm-6:10pm: New Pants ( Beijing, Indie Rock)
6:40pm-7:40pm: Miserable Faith ( Beijing, Indie Rock)
8:20pm-9:20pm: The Hives (Sweden, Indie Rock)

Love Stage (爱舞台)

12:30pm-1:10pm: SNH48 (Shanghai, Pop)
1:30pm-2pm: Rolling Bowling (Beijing, Rockabilly)
2:20pm-2:50pm: Mister Mouth (Taiwan, Folk Rock)
3:20pm-4pm: Hedgehog (Beijing, Indie Rock)
4:30pm-5:30pm: Supermarket (Beijing, Pop Rock)
6pm-7pm: Tongue (Urumqi, Rock)
7:40pm-8:40pm: Tomahawk (China, Metal)

Impact of the Planet Stage (影响•星球舞台)

1-1:30pm: Kids Fly (Israel, Indie Rock)
2-2:30pm: UULZALGA (France / Russia, World Rock)
3:10-3:50pm: The Hearing (Finland, Indie Electro)
4:30-5:10pm: Zhong Tongxi (Beijing, Folk)
5:50pm-6:30pm: Otava Yo (Russia, World Rock)
7:10pm-7:50pm: IZ (Kazakh, Folk Rock)
8:30-9:10pm: Fuel Fandango (Spain, Pop Rock)

Alienware Electronic Stage (电子舞台)

1:30–2:30pm: Will A
2:30–3.30pm: Terence C
3.30–4.30pm: Ben Huang
4.30–5.30pm: Kobe Chen
5.30–6.30pm: BB Deng
6.30–7.30pm: Remy (NLD)
7.30–8.30: Warren Fellow (NLD)
8.30–9.30: Shen Yue

VJ Tina Sprinkles

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Main Stage

1-1:40pm: Big Wave (Beijing, Post Rock)
2:10-3:10pm: Lure (Beijing, Punk)
3:40-4:40pm: Queen Sea Big Shark (Beijing, Indie Rock)
5:20pm-6:20pm: Dinosaur Jr. (USA, Indie Rock)
7-8pm: Omnipotent Youth Society (China, Folk)
8:30-9:20pm: Cheer Chen (Taiwan, Singer/Songwriter)

Love Stage (爱舞台)

12:30-1:10pm: Runaway Snail (Shanghai / Indie Rock)
1:30-2pm: Some Other Scenery (Guangdong / Folk Rock)
2:20-2:50pm: DA BANG (Bejing / Indie Rock)
3:20-4pm: A Si (Shanghai, Folk Pop)
4:30-5:30pm: Low Wormwood (Lanzhou, Folk Rock)
6pm-7pm: Re-TROS (Beijing, Indie Rock)
7:40pm-8:40pm: Yaksa (Chinese, Metalcore)

Impact of the Planet Stage (影响•星球舞台)

1-1:30pm: Mendetz (Spain, Indie Electro)
2-2:30pm: The Suicide Of Western Culture (Spain / Indie Electro)
3:10-3:50pm: Guayo Cedéno & coco bar (Honduras, Surf Rock)
4:30-5:10pm: Fallacy (Xinxiang, Indie Rock)
5:50-6:30pm: Astrio (Spain / Indie Rock)
7:10-7:50pm: Clarens (France, Indie Electro)
8:30-9:10pm: Juveniles (France / Indie Electro)

Alienware Electronic Stage (电子舞台)

1:30–2:30pm: Michelle Grant
2:30–3.30pm: Punx
3.30–4.30pm: Verse@ille
4.30–5.30pm: Yuksek (FR)
5.30–6.30pm: Dexter
6.30–7.30pm: The Partysquad (NLD)
7.30–8.30: Basestring (NLD)
8.30–9.30: Giftback

VJ Tina Sprinkles

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Main Stage

1pm-1:40pm: Glow Curve (Beijing, Post Rock)
2:10-3:10pm: Ma Dun (Beijing, Folk)
3:40-4:40pm: Yang Nai Wen (Taiwan, Pop Rock)
5:10-6:10pm: Hao Yun (Zhenzhou, Pop Rock)
6:50-7:50pm: Carly Rae Jepsen (Canada / Pop)
8:20-9:20pm: Secondhand Rose (Beijing, Bipolar Rock)

Love Stage (爱舞台)

12:30-1:10pm: Cha Liang Fen (Beijing, Bipolar Folk)
1:30pm-2pm: Black Head (Xi'an, Folk)
2:20-2:50pm: Ba San Yao (Taiwan, Post-?)
3:20-4pm: Pet Consipracy (Beijing, Indie Electro)
4:30-5:30pm: Song Dong Ye (China, Folk)
6-7pm: Peng Tan (Beijing, Folk)
7:40-8:40pm: Tricky (UK, Electro)

Impact of the Planet Stage (影响•星球舞台)

1pm-1:30pm: Bonafide3000 (UK, Electro)
2-2:30pm: Idiotape (Korea, Indie Electro)
3:10pm-3:50pm: Apollo 18 (Korea, Post Rock)
4:30-5:10pm: Manceau (France, Indie Rock)
5:50-6:30pm: Tiny Fingers (Israel, Indie Rock)
7:10-7:50: 周凤岭 Zhou Feng Ling (Beijing, China)
8:30-9:10pm: We are the Catalyst (Sweden, Alt Rock)

Alienware Electronic Stage (电子舞台)

1:30–2:30pm: Donn
2:30–3.30pm: Misloop
3.30–4.30pm: Bass Guo
4.30–5.30pm: Busy Gang
5.30–6.30pm: The Zombiekids
6.30–7.30pm: Oshi
7.30–8.30: Conrank
8.30–9.30: Luce vs. Selecta Tsunano

MIDI Taihu Festival

May 1–3 @ Camp MIDI Taihu
Price: 150rmb per day at the door

Getting There: This happens near Suzhou, about 80km / 1.5 hours from the city. MIDI hasn't provided any English info about this, so we dug around a bit. You've got a few options. One is taking a high-speed train to Suzhou Railway station and then taking either a cab (~100rmb) or one of the official MIDI buses for 17rmb. Those are at the North Square, but you're best off looking for this:

苏州站北广场汽车客运站 (地址:苏州市苏站路27号)

According to this Douban page (in Chinese), they have buses leaving regularly between 10am–4pm, and returning between 9-11pm. On May 3, the return buses will come back between 6–11pm. Also a few buses returning to the railway station on May 4 between 10am–noon. Basically, all these buses leave when they are full. There's no set schedule.

Another option is taking a cab from Shanghai. Guessing that's gonna cost between 300–500rmb. Baidu maps says it should cost about 361rmb, but that's not always accurate. Not so bad if you split with some friends.

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Main Stage

2-2:30pm: Shisha (Wenzhou, Metalcore)
2:50-3:20pm: Residence A (Beijing, Indie Rock)
3:40-4:10: 苏紫旭和草履虫乐队 (mystery…)
4:40-5:20pm: Jian Mi Li (Chengdu, Alt Rock)
5:50pm-6:30pm: Leng Ku Xian Jin (Shanghai, Folk / Mixed Genre)
7-7:40pm: Brain Failure (Beijing, Punk Rock)
8:20-9:20pm: Killswitch Engage (USA, Metalcore)
9:20-9:50pm: DJ Rokko Ramirez (Austria, Brocore)

Second Stage

1:50pm-2:20pm: Brahma (Beijing, ??? )
2:40-3:10: The Ekronauts(Switzerland, Indie Rock)
3:30-4pm: Runaway Snail (Shanghai, Indie Rock)
4:20-4:50pm: Dragon Power (Shanghai, Indie Rock)
5:20-6pm: From the Red (China, Metalcore)
6:30-7:10pm: AsAlliance (Japan, Metalcore)
7:40-8:20pm: Mega Soul (Beijing, Metalcore)

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Main Stage
2-2:30pm: 而已 (???)
2:50-3:20 (???)
3:40-4:10pm: Dao Yu Xin Qing (Xi'an, Indie Rock)
4:40-5:20pm: Nova Hear (Beijing, Indie Rock)
5:50-6:30pm: The-Tree (Fuzhou, Indie Rock)
7-7:40pm: 赵卫指行者与上猇 (?????)
8:10-8:50pm: Dreamshade (Switzerland, Alt Rock)
9:30-10:30pm: Escape Plan (Beijing / Folk Rock)

Second Stage

13:30-14:00: 逻辑实验室 no links?
2:20-2:50pm: Meat Sucks (Wuhan, Indie Rock)
3:20-3:50pm: Old Doll (Nanjing, Punk Rock)
4:20-4:50pm: Twinkle Star (Beijing, Indie Rock)
5:20-6pm: The Headlines (Sweden, Punk Rock)
6:30-7:10pm: The Velvet Road (Beijing, Alt Rock)
7:40-8:20pm: Tiny Fingers (Israel, Indie Rock)
8:50-9:30pm: Nine Treasure (Mongolia, Folk Metal)
9:30-10pm: DJ Rokko Ramirez (Austria, Brocore)

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Main Stage

2-2:30pm: Pyroglyphix (Suzhou, Rap Rock)
2:50-3:20pm: OKSA (Indonesia, Cumba)
3:40-4:10pm: Yu Ren (Hangzhou, ???)
4:40-5:20pm: Pendentif (France, Indie Rock)
5:50-6:30pm: SUBS (Beijing, Indie Rock)
7pm-7:40pm: Zhang Ling (Beijing, Blues)

8:10-8:50pm: Colt Silvers (France, Indie Rock)
9:30-10:30pm: Tang Dynasty

Second Stage

1:30-2pm: MC Davis (China, Hip Hop )
2:20-2:50pm: Cypher Sixteen (UK, Metal)
3:20-3:50pm: Yihong Yuan (Suzhou, Indie Rock)
4:20-4:50pm: Qiu Niu (China, World Music )
5:20-6pm: Mercy & Sorrow (Shanghai, ??? )
6:30-7:10pm: Noctiferia (Slovenia, Metal )
7:40-8:20pm: Army of Jade Kirin (Beijing, ??? )
8:50-9:30pm: Suffocated (Beijing, ??? )


This column is written by DJ Sacco, who runs Uptown Records, Shanghai's dedicated vinyl shop. Ironically, they don't sell Mp3s or dabble in anything digital, instead they have 7" and 12", EPs and LPs from rock to electronic, rare pressings, DJ equipment and band merchandise. Find them in an old bomb shelter at 115 Pingwu Lu.



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  • labyrinth13hrs

    "...the average metalcore white trash trailer park fan..."
    What a condescending douche. If you don't like music and think fans are trash then don't be a fucking music writer.

  • zmann999

    Looks like another DJ Rokko Ramirez fan got his tattoo'ed feelings hurt.

  • dteeban


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