The first day of the JZ Festival saw excellent weather, an interesting new venue for a music festival, and a wide range of music styles. It’s already made lots of improvements on last year’s festival at Fuxing park (except for the being held in a nice park with trees part) like slightly more food and drink selection and a great mass of artists selling cool stuff made themselves, like bags, jewelry, and kitschy animal-shaped gifts. Also the weather being nice is already a massive improvement over last years threatening storm clouds. Opening the festival at 3pm was Lawrence Ku’s septet, playing his own compositions and arrangements from the group’s recent release “Process”. The group has a well-developed modern jazz sound that unfortunately doesn’t get featured locally very often, even though all the players are locally based. After Lawrence’s band finished on the main stage, Susanna and her magic orchestra played on the second stage. She has a dreamy, floating sort of sound to her music, and her orchestra was a one-man synthesizer orchestra but quite effective all the same. She was the first group of three that were brought into the festival through NOTCH, the festival of Scandinavian music that has merged with the JZ festival this year. She and the group that followed her, Supersilent, both hail from Norway. Supersilent played on the main stage, and made a pretty amazing show that started out with industrial-sounding sample-based free improvisation. Then they moved into some dark realms of free experimental music that was like a continuous segue. Very creative and different from everything else at the festival. The fourth band, the Skull Defects, were also making some quite interesting music with some electronic sampling and improvisation. However, they were a bit more rock-based, using more continuous rhythmic elements and interesting instruments like a big plastic water jug with a mic stuffed in the hole to get a nice deep drum sound.
After these four bands finished the afternoon set, the venue was cleared for the evening sets which included Coco and his Possicobilities band, and Chinese pop-rock singer Lao Lang. Coco wowed the audience with his lilting vocals and creative arrangements as always, and Lao Lang got the numbers into the venue through his big name. He sounded good, but just like any other Chinese pop singer to me. We have heard that the next two evening sets have sold really well possibly due to the more well-known Chinese pop headliners. The jury is still out about how many people will show up for day 2, which competes with the Yue Festival at Zhongshan park. We’ll see how it goes. Hold your breath for tomorrow’s update!
The JZ Festival. The New Factories @ 60 Yuyao Lu (同乐坊，余姚路60号)
4-7 October, 12:00-21:00
Daytime pass: RMB50, Nighttime performance: RMB120
24-hour ticketing hotline: 962388