Despite all the fear-mongering typhoon reports, Rizhao Blue MiDi Festival went off without a hitch! Your very own Shanghaiist team braved hell or high water and drove seven hours north to party on the beach in a city that could probably be described as Qingdao’s awkward little sister: smaller town, wacky skyline, less to do, more Chinese tourists, and a lot more smiles.
The festival ran for four days and was held at the perfect venue: an enormous, well-tended park on a lake. Lake, you say? Isn’t this OCEAN MiDi Fest? We, too, were skeptical of this rather unadvertised little detail, but our concerns were quickly put to rest. Every night at midnight they promised to load us all onto a bus-turned-electro-stage and drive us to the beach (only about a mile away) for an after party!
The MiDi crowds were a bit scarce on Friday, but out in full force by Saturday, once everybody managed to take their respective trains and buses into Rizhao. And by MiDi crowd, we mean enthusiastic Chinese metal heads with anarchy flags, mohawks, squirt guns, and flares. Basically just masses of unadulterated youth smashing into itself.
The music was standard MiDi fair: mostly Chinese metal and punk, with some rock, folk, and foreign acts squeezed in here and there. SUBS played the Song Stage, and were awesome, as always. We also particularly enjoyed German indie act The Rumours, and as always the Ice Cream Truck DJs burned shit up at the electro tent Saturday night.
The best part about Rizhao MiDi was that it became clear from the get-go that this city was absolutely psyched to be hosting the festival. Unlike Shanghai MiDi, nobody tried to bustle everybody out of the park at exactly midnight, but on the contrary, the festival ran late every night!
And instead of locals getting peeved at an obnoxious mobile electro stage full of the drunk and disorderly slowly blasting its way towards the beach in the wee hours of the morning, they were lined up along the road waving us by.
Their enthusiasm probably had also something to do with the fact that Rizhao likely commissioned the festival, a growing trend in smaller Chinese cities to draw in tourism revenues (something we learned from the recent Sinica “China Rock” podcast, highly recommended for those of you looking for some insight into the Chinese music industry.)
Camping was provided just next to the park, but we went the local guest house route and are happier for it. And that’s our Rizhao travel tip from the trip: head down to the parking lots near the beach and see what the guys with little guest house business cards have to offer (be sure you go check out the place before paying.) We got decent rooms with two enormous beds for 100RMB per room, no matter how many people we jammed inside, and located closer to the beach than any hotel. They also called up an over-sized golf cart to haul us all to the festival!
The beach, by the way, was pretty dirty and super crowded, but the waves were decent enough to body surf and you didn’t have to worry about the tourist hoards cramping your style, as almost all of them were too terrified to venture deeper than like 3 feet.
And what of the typhoon, you ask? Take a look at the pictures for yourselves. The weather was perfect.