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The "Great Wall Tanglewood Forest Music Festival" was part of Beijing's music scene over the weekend.
The Great Wall, woods and three days of music, all these elements have made it a stand-out event from the swarm of music festivals all around China.
Our own Yin Chen examines the burgeoning music festival industry through a on-the-scene investigation.
72 singers and bands, spanning from pop to folk, from electro to rock n' roll headlined the open air event.
"Tanglewood" is the name of a small town in Massachusetts of the U.S., where conductor Serge Koussevistzky inaugurated a festival in 1937. Over time, the place became a musical shrine.
The "Great Wall Tanglewood Music Valley" is a Chinese version of the event. Construction for the project, cradled in the Greal Wall's Shuiguan section on Beijing's northwest suburb, started five years ago. Convenient transportation, forest, fresh air and camping accommodation are the festival's advantages over competitors.
The first major open air music fest came out in Monterey, California in the 1960s. Since then festivals have become a pilgrimage for music lovers and have flourished around the globe, including China. With a rather short history of one decade, Chinese music festivals are based in the capital and have emerged to other cities and provinces in recent years. Midi, Strawberry and Zhangbei have established their percentage and reputation in the scene while most of the locations are limited in a downtown park and are not capable of providing ideal surroundings.
Shen Lihui, founder of a music label and complex Modern Sky, has successfully hosted Modern Sky and Strawberry festival. He is organizing the great wall event and says this one can present an authentic experience to Chinese festival goers.
Shen Lihui, festival organizer, said, "Three months ago there was nothing here, but now it is the paradise for both musicians and music buffs. Nothing can be better than enjoying the woods and music with family or friends. Most festivals downtown have to be finished by 9:30 pm to avoid disturbing the neighborhoods and there is no place for camping. But in the valley, people can have music as long as they like and can sleep in the forest."
People love to embrace nature while enjoying the music. However, various merchants and food vendors produce large amount of trash, and so do the festival goers.
Local governments and investors recognize the music festival's new profit potential, but they are not doing enough planning to take care of the environment, security needs, transportation, and technical issues like the sound system.
A festival goer said, "I'm a frequent festival goer. I love to watch my favorite bands in such nice weather and comfortable surroundings."
A festival goer said, "I've been to Fuji Rock in Japan and I was very impressed by the festival goers' environmental protection actions. I'm so glad to see Beijing is hosting an open air festival like Fuji Rock. I saw some people throw plastic bags and beer cups on the grass, but most people are very well behaved."
"Music festivals are a new phenomenon in China. Compared with overseas festivals, the events here attract less musicians and fans while causing many complaints, and the location is smaller. But I believe the whole situation is getting better," said a festival goer.
Shen Lihui said, "Music festivals in Asia and Europe and the States are quite different. We are trying to combine Chinese people's habits with international conventions and improve the management and services. I'm glad to see most people can take care of their own trash. I think more people are actively protecting the environment."
As darkness falls, the valley is soothed by the cool breeze, while the prime time of the festival has just begun. Folk, pop and rock, fans in their 20s, 30s and 40s are all hearing their favorites. And don't forget that a rave party is ready to turn you on over night.
Tanglewood provides a new possibility of simply hanging out and listening to great live music. And in the coming two months, there are quite a few sister events to come.