Da Qingshan Music Festival – 大青山音乐节, Beijing, 24 November 2018
On March 10, 2018 the Inner Mongolian metal band Nine Treasures (九宝) organized a festival in Hohhot, with 9 (Inner) Mongolian metal/rock bands. The goal of Nine Treasures was to develop the Inner Mongolian metal scene by providing both famous and younger bands with an opportunity to perform in their hometown, without having to move to Beijing in search of greener pastures (after all the grasslands are located in Inner Mongolia). Nine Treasures themselves moved back to Inner Mongolia from Beijing a couple of years ago. The success of the festival incited the band to try to organize a new “Nine Treasures Festival” hopefully next March. Sadly my recording device was not great at the time, so this is the only video I found on my computer, and it’s not perfect:
Fast forward to November 2018. Nine Treasures decides to organize another festival, this time in Beijing, with Inner-Mongolian and other ethnic minorities metal bands. The festival is called “Da Qingshan Music Festival” (“大青山音乐节”) and it is a charity concert against the desertification of Inner Mongolia – Da Qingshan is the Chinese name of the Yin Mountains located on the south border of the Gobi Desert. For the occasion, some of the bands who performed in Hohhot are back in Beijing – Nine Treasures of course but also 热地 (Rid) and Liberation. Like in Hohhot, 9 bands played in Beijing at the Tango 3rd Floor – now one of the only live venue that can officially organize a music Festival.
Now that I have a good microphone attached to my phone, I can share videos of concerts of relatively good quality. This is my first attempt to archive live concerts, and I hope I can continue in the near future. So here we are with the first band, 热地 (Rid), an Inner Mongolian metal band, formed in 2014 by the singer Su Doula (苏都拉), the legendary singer of the band “M-Survivor”. In 2017 they participated to the show “梦想的声音” (“Sound of My Dream”) produced by Zhejiang TV – you can see their performance here the comments of the jury are quite hopeless (one of them says “民族风啊”).
Liberation is a metal band from Inner Mongolia, produced by Nine Treasures, and formed in 2014. They have a quite large fanbase in Hohhot and Beijing. You can check their Weibo page here.
Jajatao (假假條) is a punk/grunge band formed in 2013 when the frontman Liu Yucao was studying music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. According to this Time-Out interview, the band name 假假條 means “fake excuse note”: “if you want to drop classes at school you need a doctor’s note from the hospital. Usually I’d go to the hospital and pay the doctor money for a fake note”. The band has a very strong graphic and political identity. For instance, their first album was inspired by the independent movie Blind Mountain (盲山) directed by Li Yang in 2007 which follows a young woman kidnapped and sold as a bride to a Shaanxi villager. I found a very interesting page on Zhihu explaining the origins of the pictures they used for their albums – the first cover is drawn from the movie Blind Mountain, the second one is from the Cultural Revolution.
Nan Band (馕乐队) is a Kazakh metal band from Xinjiang. Their name comes from the Uyghur traditional “flat bread” (“nang” or “nan”) they enjoyed when they were kids. Like 热地, they also participated to the “梦想的声音” TV show. After finishing their high school degree in Xinjiang, members of the band moved to Dongbei to attend college, before coming to Beijing to start the band. As Josh Feola pointed out, Nan Band performed a Xinhua-produced “red” song to support the “One Belt One Road” policy back in 2017 titled “The Belt and Road, Sing Along”. This is maybe the reason why the band can still perform, whereas many other Xinjiang popular singers and bands are now locked-up in re-education camps. The “red” era of Nan Band seems to be over, as they adopt a more critical approach to China’s Xinjiang policy.
Last but not least, Nine Treasures (九宝), the organizer of the festival and one of the most popular metal band from Inner Mongolia. Nine Treasures was formed in 2010 in Beijing by the singer Askhan, who was the guitarist of the Inner Mongolian metal band “M-Survivor” back in Hohhot. The band integrates a morin khuur (Mongolian horsehead fiddle) and a balalaika (Russian lute) in their songs, while they sing in Mongolian songs about their homeland. They often tour abroad, notably in Poland at the Woodstock festival, and were interviewed by Vice in 2015.