Shanghai live music festivals to look out for this year

Shanghai live music festivals to look out for this year

The where and when of music festivals in Shanghai are notoriously hard to predict, but we give it our best shot
Shanghai live music
Should Shanghai fans be this excited for the local live music scene in 2010?

EnoVate, the Shanghai-based research firm with its eye on urban trends, recently reached out to local music blog China Music Radar for their predictions for the music scene in 2010. For anyone familiar with the Shanghai live music scene, you know this is far from a straightforward task.

Thankfully Archie was up to the challenge and predicted that we’ll see more government-sponsored music festivals in 2010, citing the success stories from recent years.

The JZ Music Festival was one of the only bright spots on a rather bleak year for music festivals in Shanghai, and one that actually featured bands.

Although 2009 saw the expansion of music festivals from their traditional Beijing (and to some degree Shanghai) base, we’re not expecting most of the Shangahi music-loving masses to add Inner Mongolia concerts and Chengdu’s Zebra festival to their annual pilgramage list, they just don’t have that many days off. That said, music fans in Shanghai can expect a solid line-up in 2010. Here's a heads up on which festivals we’re pretty sure will make it to the stage in 2010.

1. Jue Festival

When we think of music festivals, we tend to think of one- or two-day orgies of sound that are so dense with performances that bands tend to blend into each other, and all that matters is who's getting the next round of beers.

This makes the Jue Festival more of an anti-festival.

Taking place from March 12-29 the Jue Festival provides a steady stream of events that are meant to engage, not overwhelm the audiences. With highly acclaimed singer St Vincent and hot up-and-comers Does it Offend You, Yeah? all ready confirmed, the emphasis is finally where it should be, the bands, not the endless mass of festival revelers and their hackie sacks.

2. Midi

When you talk about Midi the first thing you must remember is that nothing is guaranteed. The festival has bounced between locations like a ping pong ball on stimulants. There are only two levels of confirmation … the quasi-official rumors and the unofficial rumors.

We aren’t even going to attempt to decipher these rumors and predict what will happen. But we know that no matter what, Midi always seems to pull something off, quality be damned. Let’s just hope that this year they end their non-committal flirtations with Shanghai and finally bring us the festival.

At least they’re getting off to a good start this year by letting people vote on which Chinese bands should play at Midi. Considering Shanghai is always left out in the cold, check out their site and make sure locals get the credit they deserve.

3. JZ Music Festival

shanghai live musicFans bond with performers at the JZ Music Festival 2009.

The JZ Music Festival was one of the only bright spots on a rather bleak year for Shanghai live music festivals, and one that actually featured decent bands.

In years past the festival focused mainly on jazz, but in recent years they have slowly been building up a solid lineup of non-jazz performers, adding rock and electonica stages into the mix.

Festival booking agent, Mark Elliott, says for future festivals “we will definitely include a rock/pop stage and we’re considering world music and electronic music stages. [The festival] should be around October or November.”

4. Modern Sky

CD sales in China aren’t going to make any indie band or label rich, so Modern Sky has finally found a lucrative way to make money off the Beijing hipsters’ (and their Shanghai counterparts who fly up each year) love of looking cool by following the flock. With a plethora of festivals last year, Modern Sky rocketed to the top of the festival heap by regurgitating the same lineup of Beijing bands that make the bulk of nearly every music festival in Beijing and adding a sprinkle of Western bands like Panther and Deer Hoof into the mix.

While they haven’t announced anything solid for Shanghai as of yet, chances are if you are willing to take a trip to Beijing at any given time this year, there will be a festival with the Modern Sky name all over it.

5. Shanghai 2010 World Expo

We know we know, the Expo is not exactly a Shanghai live music festival, but we imagine it will be a lot like one: confusing, loud and expensive. On the bright side, we also expect many of the participants (mainly from the Scandinavian countries) to show of their musical exports in the way of bands.

Nothing has been confirmed yet, but keep checking back with the Expo website and hopefully there will be a better reason to get up to the Expo than getting a free key chain from Thailand or pen from Mongolia.