(Update 2008-07-10: Videos added.)
A few posts back I mentioned that veteran Chinese rocker Zheng Jun would be playing a concert in Beijing. He was on the last night of something called the Thirteenth Month Festival. My City Weekend magazine said it was all starting at 8pm, so around 7 I left my place and took the subway to Xizhimen. When I emerged from underground, I found that it was raining pretty hard, but luckily the venue wasn’t far from the station. I popped up my umbrella and started walking. By the time I got there, right at 8pm, I was pretty wet, and I found it strange that there was no crowd of people. I could hear music inside.
A guy came up to me offering a ticket for ¥100. The magazine had listed ¥180. I’m always a little wary of situations like this, but the box office was nowhere in sight. I pushed my way forward to the entry, and motioned for him to show the ticket to the person there. She looked at it and tore off the stub; I gave the guy ¥100 and in I went. On the ticket the start time was listed as 7:30.
The place was only about two-thirds full, so I just found an easily accessible seat and sat down. The band on stage was Buyi, a folk-rock outfit from Ningxia that I’ve seen before at 2 Kolegas. This was a radically different setting for them.
They handled the big stage and audience very well. But then they’re hardly novices: they’ve been around more than ten years and have played many festivals. I only saw three songs before they left the stage.
Oddly enough, the house lights were left dark while the crew set up for the next performer. I took the opportunity to pack up my wet umbrella and find a better seat.
Next up was a folk-rock singer-songwriter named Su Yang.
He was pretty good, with a rough voice and catchy songs. Like Buyi, he favors rousing sing-along choruses with lots of la-la’s. I’ve since downloaded a few tracks, which are on the whole better sounding than the live show. The guy behind Su Yang and right of the drummer played what I think was a suona.
For a couple of his songs, he had nice animated videos shown on the big screen above. This is a still I found from one of them:
When Su finished, I slipped out to get a bottle of water and check out the merchandise stand. The only products available were for bands that had performed on previous nights of the festival.
When I returned to the auditorium I saw a closer seat and moved up a bit.
Zheng Jun came out wearing a goofy pair of pink glasses.
He did his version of Coldplay’s song “Yellow,” which as you can probably tell, has Mandarin lyrics (I don’t know if they mean the same as the original, but the Chinese titles is “Liuxing” or “Shooting Star”):
This is what a concert looks like in China:
Is it pretty much the same everywhere these days?
He didn’t play any guitar during the show, leaving that to two of his band members.
I recognized nearly every song, and sang along with everyone else when he did “Huiguniang.”
That’s the first verse, which was interrupted by a fan with flowers.
He played a moderate length set – the show let out at about 10:30. I was pleased to discover that it had stopped raining, especially since line 2 of the subway was closed by then. It seems I’ve developed an aversion to taxis lately, so I walked to a bus stop, waited a while, and ended up getting home at almost midnight. Combining the late hour with the fact that earlier in the day I visited Badachu, I was pretty tired, and not much use the following day. And I hadn’t done my Chinese homework over the weekend, either.