I just went to my first ever Chinese Music Festival in Beijing and had a fantastic time. Between the bands, the beautiful weather, the festival food, and the fun atmosphere, it was a great day!
With that said, I realized a Chinese Music Festival is quite different from other festivals around the world – there are obviously some very Chinese elements thrown into the experience.
Here are 10 Photos That Sum Up A Chinese Music Festival:
1. Chicken Feet Snack Stand
It wouldn’t be a complete Chinese experience if there weren’t chicken feet thrown somewhere in the mix.
2. Open Bathrooms
This is a very traditional style Chinese restroom: little dividers separating squatty potties. No doors.
On the bright side though, they didn’t smell too bad. Remember to bring your own tissue. (There were some Chinese squatty potty porta potties in another place as well).
3. Drinks with No Ice
There were no ice machines anywhere. People would just pour you water or soda from bottles just sitting out.
This was one of the hardest things for me to get used to in China – Chinese people traditionally don’t really like cold drinks. Everything is hot or just room temperature, and they prefer it this way for health reasons (my friends told me it’s better for digestion, but I think for this festival it was just easier to not worry about ice.)
4. Old Chinese Rock Stars in Lipstick
The lead singer from an older band called Secondhand Rose (二手玫瑰 er shou mei gui) was rocking a traditional Chinese robe, sparkly heels, and lipstick. I wish I had a better photo. Their show was just plain ole FUN – high energy 80s rock with traditional Chinese instruments thrown in.
5. No Foreigners
I was actually a little surprised by this- I know other music festivals in China have foreigners who attend, and since this one was in Beijing I thought there would be more here. I only saw two other foreigners at the festival besides me and my friend Vince, and this actually made it an even cooler experience. (There were only two foreign bands at this show, so that probably had something to do with it).
6. Noodle Parties
In addition to chicken feet, the festival had lots of interesting foods like lamb skewers, fried octopus and squid, potato rings, and ramen. Lots of ramen. There was a whole area called Noodle Party and that line became the longest as the night went on and it became colder outside.
7. Tiny Hardcore Drummer Girl
The tiniest girl played the drums for a band called Hedgehog (刺猬). She sang lead on multiple songs and was killin it – the crowd went wild for her.
8. No Alcohol, No Problem
One thing I was surprised the most about was the lack of alcohol – that’s usually a part of festival culture and goes along with the dancing and singing. But there was absolutely no alcohol being sold here. And these guys were already so lit they didn’t need any.
9. Beautiful Chinese Pop Stars
The last performer of the night was Joker Xue (Chinese name: Xue Zhiqian 薛之谦), a pretty big name star who has lots of well-known songs, starred in many TV shows, and made National Chinese news with a scandal that happened a few years ago (don’t ask me why I know these things).
We were going to leave before seeing him, but ended up staying for a few songs and it was the highlight of the festival for me. I love Chinese pop songs, and I’d actually heard several of his song before (like this one called Yi Wai). His voice is exceptionally beautiful and sounded fantastic live, and he was also a great performer and connected so well with the audience.
“It’s cold tonight, and I can see you all hugging closely together!” he said. “I’m so jealous, I want to come down these stairs and hug you all, too. I’m all alone up here!” My Chinese friend translated this for me and the crowd ate his words up. It was so cute.
He was almost too pretty and perfect to look at – like a real live anime character.
10. Diverse Music and Great Crowds
I had a fantastic time hearing new bands, learning more about Chinese music, and experiencing a Chinese music festival for the first time. There was such a range of talent here, from pop and rock to hip hop and indie. With 3 stages to to visit, there was always something interesting going on and I now have more Chinese music to listen to.
The chicken feet, lack of ice, and open toilets just added to the experience 😉
2018 Rye Music Festival
I definitely want to go to more shows in the future – there’s a really big one called Ying Yang that happens on the Great Wall – what!? I also really want to see my Chinese idol Zhang Jie in concert at some point. One day.
Have you been to a music festival in China or abroad? I’ve heard some shows in Japan and Korea are awesome – will have to add more to my Bucket List. Until the next show!