What It Is: MIDI is the old-school music festival in China. It does not give a fuck. It is the closest thing to a Woodstock you find here. There's minimal branding and commercial presence and it's proudly local. This year they have 200 bands, 50 DJs, nine stages, plus camping. Yes it looks like camping is actually going down this time. There are two electronic stages, one run by The Mansion, and another by Jagermeister.
Noteworthy Acts: With 200 bands and 50 DJs, there's bound to be something you'll like. These are just names that we know and trust.
Oct 1: SUBS, Top Floor Circus, Wayne Static of Static X, Yuren, Nanwu, Yang Bing, Conrank.
Oct 2: Second Hand Rose, Barque of Dante, The Samans, SMZB, Miserable Faith
Oct 3: Fear Factory, Noukilla, Nova Heart, Residence A, The Fuzz, Hip Hop Hijack, VOID (Shanghai Ultra and Chris Jobs).
Highlights: Hey they have bands, like a music festival should. It's quite a free atmosphere, filled with young Chinese kids who really love their rock and roll. You can pretty much just wild out and do whatever here, it's good vibes. Not much brand presence. Looks like camping is happening this year.
Lowlights: Depending on the weather, it could be totally muddy, like last time. It could be an easy place to get into a fight if you act like that guy. Definitely avoid that. Also, a lot of what Chinese call ”Tǔ yáo“ (土摇), which translates loosely as "tacky rock fans". One Chinese friend described this as "People who think bands like Guns 'n' Roses are god, and believe that ROCK NEVER DIES. They wear Ed Hardy."
Getting There: Your best bet is to take Line 2 to Yuan Dong Lu. That's two stops before the airport, and will take about an hour from the center of Puxi. When you get there, go to exit two and look for the buses to take you to the festival.
A taxi from Puxi will cost between 150–250rmb. Ask the driver to go to San Jia Gang Hai Bin Le Yuan, or just show him this, because there's a good chance he won't know where that is:
Times: 2pm October 1st – 11pm October 3rd
Camping: You can camp on the MIDI grounds for free this year, but you will need to register with your passport and you can't bring your own tent. They're really concerned about fires, so you can only use a tent that they've tested for fire safety, which means you have to rent from them.
A two-person tent is 120rmb for a day, 200rmb for two days, or 240rmb for three days, with a 200rmb deposit. Sleeping bags are 60rmb for a day, 100rmb for two days, or 120rmb for three days, with a 100rmb deposit. Mattresses are 25rmb per day, 45rmb for two days, and 60rmb for three days, with a 50rmb deposit.
...Or you can just buy the shit: 280rmb for a tent, 150rmb for a sleeping bag, and 70rmb for a mattress.
Tickets: It's 150rmb per day, or 350rmb for the whole weekend. Those are door prices—pretty affordable. You can get a slight discount on Damai.
After-Party: The official MIDI after-party happens at The Mansion on October 3rd. There's a free bus from MIDI to The Mansion, and admission is free with a MIDI ticket.
What It Is: Maybe you haven't heard, but there's this festival called STORM happening over the October Holiday. It's basically like all of the Greek gods just pissing Beatport Top 100 lists all over south Shanghai. This is big money flexing hard, stamping their brand presence into your psyche until you crave "Budweiser" and "Storm" just as hard as you crave a sweet McDoubleDicks burger or a McMysteryChicken at 3:50am.
Noteworthy Acts: Kesha, T-E-E-D, AfroJack, Axwell, Grandtheft, Trap Guy, Ingrosso, Knife Party, Laptop Guy, Cazzette, Busy P.
Highlights: The sound and visuals here are world class. Some really solid bookings on the second stage, like TEED, Grandtheft, Soft Lipa, DJ Cavia. Also, the collective whimper of a few thousand international students when they heard Avicii canceled may serve as a highlight for many.
Lowlights: A few thousand kids who recently discovered electronic music via Avicii looking to get TURNT UP. No bands and not enough local artists. A nauseating level of branding.
Location/Transport: Pretty easy to get to. Just take Line 7 to Longhua Zhong Lu and look for the rampant scalpers. Who knows where they got those tickets from but boy will they have them. A cab from the city center won't cost more than 30-50rmb either.
Times: October 5-6, 2pm-10pm.
Tickets: Tickets for this are going for 390rmb per day. Hey we're actually selling those right here.
After-Party: Yep there's a bunch at Muse locations, and one of the biggest is happening at Arkham on October 6. TEED is playing there. More info coming soon.
Simple Life Music Festival
What It Is: A music festival that's been running bi-annually in Taiwan since 2006 comes to the mainland for the first time. There's a heavy focus on pop stars and lifestyle shit, like markets, workshops, and exhibitions.
Noteworthy Acts: Big pop stars like A-mei, Chang Chen-yue, Sandee Chan, and Hebe Tian (my love). Mainland pop/rock artists like Pushu, Zhangchu, Xuwei. Seminal American post-punk/new wave band Television. And…UB40? Yeah.
Highlights: Television play from 6.40-7.30pm on Sunday, October 5. A good festival to broaden your Chinese pop culture knowledge? It's worth noting that they invited many famous authors like Jin Yucheng, Liang Wendao, Zhang Dachung to deliver speeches. Yao Ming is also on the list. Markets and fairs should be worth checking out too. Maybe a good place to study the Chinese market for your branding proposal?
Lowlights: To be honest this event is basically for Chinese pop song lovers in their twenties and thirties. Expect a lot of ads from China Telecom, Jingdong, Tudou, Guang Ming and tons of other food brands.
Location/Transport: So this happens at the Shanghai Expo Park, same place as JZ Festival. One of the easiest festivals to get to. Just take metro Line 8 to China Art Museum station and walk. The scalpers will chase you in the right direction.
Times: October 4-6, 1.30-9.30pm
Tickets: One-day tickets are 280rmb on site, or three days for 600rmb.
After-Party: Nope. The festival ends around 9.30pm each night, a good time to go home and reflect, or watch a TV series on your laptop.
Shanghai World Music Festival
What It Is: A three-day world music festival spread around three locations - New Hongqiao Central Park, Dongping National Forest Park and The Mixing Room. A pretty eclectic lineup of bands from Korea, Israel, Mongolia, and other far away lands.
Noteworthy Acts: Germany-based Mongolian singer Urna, Jambinai, a highly-rated instrumental-rock group, and Isreali band Ramzailech. Most of the bigger bands are playing at all three locations, so check the full schedule here.
Highlights: Chilling in New Hongqiao Central Park, which has a way underrated barbecue zone. The outdoor shows are free. The aforementioned bands, especially Ramzailech, who describe themselves as "Israeli-post-traditionalist-hardcore-playing-yeddish-singing-klezmer-blasting-Jews."
Lowlights: A lineup that's older than the clerks at your local Buddy's. That's not to say they're bad though, but for all the money they're spending on this, they could have gotten a few more well known acts.
Location/Transport: This happens at three different locations, two in Shanghai relatively close to metro stations, and then there's Dongping National Forest Park, which is on Chongming Island. If you've never been to the island, it's about 90 minutes from the city center. Not a bad place to visit. It's as dark as North Korea at night.
Times: You have the two outdoor festivals on October 18-19. That goes from 10.30am-8.45pm in New Hongqiao Central Park and 3-5.30pm at Dongping National Forest Park. The shows at The Mixing Room all start at 7.30pm on Oct 20-26, and that's just one band per night.
Tickets: The shows in the parks are free. Tickets for the shows at the Mixing Room start at 80rmb, available here.
After-Party: Family Mart.
What It Is: The shortest music festival this October, Mushroom is just a bunch of local and domestic bands playing at On Stage in Red Town for a few hours.
Noteworthy Acts: Bian Yuan, the frontman of legacy Beijing band Joyside, and The Psyders, a surf-rock band from Shanghai. Haven't heard of some of these other bands, like Little Wizard from Zhejiang or Tree from Hangzhou. Little Wizard is a cute name.
Highlights: A really local experience, good sound system, cheap tickets.
Lowlights: It's like three hours. No big Chinese rock bookings, aside from Joyside's frontman.
Location/Transport: Just take Line 10 to Hongqiao Lu station and walk about five minutes.
Times: They say this goes from 8.30pm–10.30pm. Definitely show up on time if you want to catch the bands.
Tickets: Cheap—60rmb pre-sale on Taobao here, or 80rmb at the door.
After-Party: Umm…hotpot with some groupies?
What It Is: Now on its 10th year, JZ Festival is one of the realest festivals in Shanghai. They bring a bunch of world-class jazz musicians and bands into the park and have them play on really good soundsystems. That's basically it. And some DJs. Started in a small park, now it's grown to this. If you want to read more about it, check out this interview we did with JZ founder Ren Yuqing.
Noteworthy Acts: Bootsy Collins, Sandy Lam, Marcus Miller, Kyoto Jazz Massive, Cui Jian.
Highlights: One of the most beautiful spaces in Shanghai. Bootsy Collins. Watching the sun set over the bridge. No EDM.
Lowlights: Might be a little too chill for some of the younger folks in Shanghai. It might be a bit nippy out too.
Location/Transport: Again, an easy one to get to. Line 8 to China Art Museum station and walk. Think they still have a mini Haibao museum in that station. The scalpers will chase you in the right direction.
Times: October 18-19, 1pm-10pm
Tickets: Tickets are 260rmb per day, available right here.
After-Party: Info coming soon.
Top 100 DJs Festival
What It Is: Curated by Sino Group, the Top 100 DJs Festival is a selection of DJs from a list of the top 100 DJs in the universe. This saves you valuable time you may have spent wondering "well, are they good or not?" because a team of experts has already gone through the trouble for you.
Noteworthy Acts: Giorgio Moroder, Steve Aoki, Fatboy Slim, Bingo Players, Ferry Corsten, New World Punx.
Highlights: Giorgio. Fucking. Miroder. Yeah, man. He's DJing there. I think that guy is like, 77 years old and he's still doing it. He wrote "Highway To The Danger Zone," "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," and "Push It To The Limit," that consummate 80's movie montage song from Brian de Palma's Scarface. You can't front on that. No you cannot.
Lowlights: Not many local acts on the lineup, for one. This is the first year for Top 100, and the whole thing feels a bit like when people say a typhoon is coming to Shanghai—you really have no fucking clue what to expect.
Location/Transport: This one happens at the Broad Auto Park, the same place as that legendary beer festival that happened a few months ago. Quite simple to get there, just take metro Line 7 to Houtan station and look for the scalpers and black taxi drivers. They may carry knives but they're mostly good people!
Times: One day only, from 2pm–11pm on October 18.
Tickets: And…we're selling tickets for this one. Those are 380rmb for the one-day festival, available right here.
After-Party: Yep. A bunch of them. Going down at Sino clubs like MYST, M1NT, The 7th Floor, and Diva. More info about that as we get it.
What It Is: A bunch of DJ crews and metal bands coming together at The Mansion to try to save the universe from ultimate destruction.
Noteworthy Acts: Come Correct Crew, Popasuda, Push & Pull, Love Bang, The Arcbane, PVA, Baby Carnival, 1LoveShanghai. More TBA.
Highlights: Cheap. Local. Bands and DJs.
Lowlights: Snarky characters. Poor taste. Shenanigans. An affront to decency. No international acts. No big names.
Location/Transport: This happens at The Mansion, a party villa out in Hongqiao.
Times: October 18, 9pm-8am
Tickets: 100rmb at the door, including five drinks.
After-Party: This is kind of the after party. It starts at 9pm and goes until 8am.
Shanghai International Beer Festival
What It Is: Beer, food, and music for four days, including Halloween. The last three festivals proved to be a sloppy, drunken good time. And this one goes pretty late, because there are no residences nearby, which is always a nice plus. Apparently, this year they're bringing in some performers like acrobats and dancers, because you know, a few hundred kinds of beer and food plus DJs isn't enough.
Noteworthy Acts: A lot of IPAs, some Belgians; a ton of craft beer on tap for affordable prices. Also, some music by Skinny Brown (Popasuda), Conrank, and a bunch of other DJs.
Highlights: Beer and food, much of it quite good. Cheap or free to get in.
Lowlights: It's been a bit of a laowai and brand fest in the past, but maybe that will change.
Location/Transport: This happens down on the South Bund, near The Cool Docks. It's not super close to any metro station, but you could take Line 10 to Yu Garden then walk about 15–20 minutes. If you live in Pudong, you have the luxury of taking the Shanghai Ferry from Lujiazui pretty much right to the festival site, for 2rmb.
Times: October 30/31, 6pm–1am; November 1-2, 2pm–1am.
Tickets: Admission is 50rmb per person, and that gets you a free Stella upon entry. But only suckers pay that. Mark our words: free passes will circulate heavily around town. Just hit up your local watering hole as the date approaches. There will likely be a stack of them at the door or some dude passing them out.
After-Party Nothing official. A lot of people will probably go home and pass out early after this one.
So there you go. Another year of festivals; another year when no one booked Ariel Pink. And another year without Black Rabbit. Be safe but do your worst.
Bonus tip: You can often find cheaper tickets from the friendly aunties and uncles near festival gates, just be careful what you're buying.