Years of planning by Split Works and Taihe Live finally paid off last weekend with a killer all-day festival at northern Pudong’s Shanghai Rugby Club. It was a veritable marathon of music, dancing, sun and beer, and we’re sure Monday morning didn’t come easy for many attendees (it certainly didn’t for us.)
We got there early to catch local boys Rainbow Danger Club, who unfortunately only played about a 4-song set, possibly due to some sound problems. Most of our time was spent bouncing between the Street Jam stage (mostly hip hop) and the Oppo main stage, running across to Oblivion when possible but managing to miss most of the highlights over there.
Kicking off the Street Jam stage, Weerd Science was particularly fun, if only to watch our Chinese friends struggle to understand the lyrics. We were also pleasantly surprised by Shanghai reggae group Uprooted Sunshine Soundsystem – we definitely recommend you catch them next time they play.
On the main stage, Hanggai was a rowdy heel-kicking romp (who doesn’t love a good Mongolian drinking song?) and Hebe of SHE drew the expected fans. Carsick Cars and PK14, or what we could catch of them, were both excellent as anticipated.
Unsurprisingly, the highlight – for us anyway – was definitely Ludacris, if only because he seemed genuinely psyched to be in China for the first time. Actually, that goes for everybody – we didn’t hear a negative review of any band’s stage presence. Grandmaster Flash is clearly a professional crowd pleaser, and he was absolutely and relentlessly insistent that we PUT OUR MOTHERF*CKING HANDS IN THE AIR. We heard he played an extra set at midnight for those with superior stamina.
We caught some of 30 Seconds to Mars as we were leaving, and they all seemed to be wearing cool outfits.
The venue was perfect – enormous and clean. The green of the turf in front of Stage Left practically sparkled all day, and I think we could all appreciate the broad swathes of well-manicured grass you could actually sit and walk on – a very rare find in China.
Great atmosphere and great people all around – we don’t know exactly the breakdown of Western/Chinese attendees but we’re hoping at least a few locals came away with an excellent festival experience. By mid afternoon the place was crawling with high school kids, some of whom were volunteering and clearly happy to take advantage of the complimentary beverages (we’re sure they were all 18.)
Navigating by the schedule was kind of a challenge, since most acts overlapped across the four stages (and also distinguishing distances and times became more difficult as 15rmb Qingdaos were flowing and somebody eventually realized they weren’t exactly checking bags on the way in…) Despite maybe missing a few key players, I think it was probably impossible to have a bummer time.
(Thanks to Split Works, and their photographers 朱祺, 李乐为, 杨易, and Adrian Lai, for the photos of Hebe, Ludacris, and Jared Leto above.)