Not even the threat of twin typhoons (because one isn’t enough) could stop Shanghai’s 2016 Concrete and Grass music festival from going ahead over the weekend of September 16 and 17. Hugh Bohane decided to take a bumpy plane ride to Shanghai, flying through the eye of two typhoons, in order to check out on Euronews’ behalf the latest creation of China-based promotion agency, Split Works.
Since 2006, musical tastemakers Split Works have brought over some of the biggest acts to China. They have showcased Sonic Youth, Faithless, Grimes, Grandmaster Flash and many more. They also run several independent festivals, with Concrete and Grass (formally known as Echo Park) being the newest kid on the block.
Here is how it went:
Day 1 highlights:
The first day was a heavier and tougher line up. Torrential rain and thunderstorms added a stormy atmosphere to much of the day’s event. Chui Wan were one of the local bands tipped to be worth checking out and despite a few problems with the sound they managed to pull off a commendable psych-rock set at the Left Stage. Legendary hip-hop all-star DJ Premier was cutting and pasting memorable beats over at the sheltered Wooozy Stage, followed by a tight show by DJ Craze. The rain played its role in keeping people inside and getting down.
Day 2 highlights:
The second day was more collegiate and mellow. English bands The Go! Team and The Cribs were afternoon favorites on the two main stages. Australian band PVT pleased the crowds on the Wooozy stage with their brand of math rock and electronica. One adoring local fan was so taken by the bands’ performance she decided to call out to the band and ask for a dinner date. Steve Malkmus and the Jicks dropped some memorable Pavement tracks and gave a solid performance back on the main stage.
Both days the electronic Yurt tent was pumping dance tunes not far from the other main stages. It’s innovative companies like Split Works that are helping China’s international music festivals to mature nicely. The lineup of bands could best be described as an international hot pot of genres and representation from both Asia and the West.
The festival programming, infrastructure and food and beverages as well as the adequate toilet facilities were all well organized. Located on a huge, grassy rugby field downtown gave the estimated 10,000 odd punters, each day, a sense of space despite being in a megalopolis like Shanghai.