'China's Woodstock' raises profile of rock

By CHEN NAN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-01-20 07:26
Xie Tianxiao performs at the Midi Music Festival in 2017 and at the festival camp at Taihu Lake, Jiangsu province, in 2018. [Photo by Yan Min/For China Daily]

Midi Music Festival marks 20 years of nurturing talent

Nearly 20 years ago, young musicians in 30 Chinese rock bands performed at the Midi School of Music in Shangdi, in northern Beijing's Haidian district. The school, founded in 1993, was China's first school of contemporary music.

Although the bands were relatively unknown, their performances on the first two days of May 2000 attracted about 2,000 fans, filling the 500-seat auditorium and spilling into public spaces outside, where the music could still be heard.

Shan Wei, a 26-year-old music journalist from China Radio International, was told about the shows by friends and spent three hours on the bus to join the audience.

"The shows were free and very crowded. I stood near a window outside the auditorium to watch them," said Shan, noting that one of the bands was Tongue, from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"The audience was mainly composed of students from the school, along with rock music lovers from Beijing and nearby areas," Shan said. "Between acts, free beer was provided. I soon made new friends, and we sat on the ground drinking outside the venue.

"The weather was great and the music was very loud. It felt like going to a high school reunion and being part of a huge community."

Later, the two-day event was officially named the Midi Music Festival.

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