5 Questions About Zebra Music Festival

Note: Since this post was published, the lineup has been released and you’ll find it posted below.

#5. What is Zebra Music Festival?

Last summer in Chengdu tens of thousands of music fans came from near and far to attend the Zebra Music Festival (ZMF, or 热波音乐节) which instantly earned hipster credit among the burgeoning Chinese youth. For three days at the beginning of May, ZMF will host its annual event and will undoubtedly draw a massive crowd back to the familiar fields on the outskirts of Chengdu.

#4. What’s the Music Like?

The full lineup hasn’t been released yet, but that doesn’t seem to dampen the excitement of the thousands who have already announced their attendance on Douban (among other social networks) which are buzzing with the recent announcement. However, judging by the previous year, we have a good idea of what to expect.

Last year, more than 60 performances (local, domestic, and international) were spread across three stages, and although the main stage dwarfed the rest, they all had their own character and style. Even though last year’s main stage was dominated by the kind of pop music that makes you picture waving glowsticks, it was a blast. The main area is absolutely massive and is awe inspiring in both its size and design.

The Xiong Mao (Panda Club) Electronic stage, with its dirt dance floor, was sandwiched by 5-meter high speaker stacks and the familiar and much-missed “熊猫“ logo printed proudly at the top like a star atop a Christmas Tree. The Panda stage featured local and foreign DJ’s (including myself as Just Charlie) playing a variety of electronic music including everything from Trance to Drum & Bass.

Unfortunately, the future of the Xiong Mao stage at this years festival is in question. (When I have concerete info on this, I’ll update this part)

#3. Where Does the Festival Take Place?

ZMF is taking place in the same place as last year, which is Tulip Park in the Xindu district. The name os the park is Tulips Flora Park (Yujinxiang Huahui Gongyuan 郁金香花卉公园) and it’s close to the Panda Research Base which is a major local landmark. There are buses that run to the festival location in conjunction with Zebra, or taxi fare will cost you about 30 yuan.

#2. How Much Does Zebra Cost? How Do I Buy Tickets?

The price has been raised this year (to the displeasure of a small minority) to 80 yuan per day or 198 yuan for three days.

Much of the crowd spends the day wandering between stages with friends, enjoying the pleasant atmosphere until it ends with a headliner closing out the main stage at midnight: so bring money for extra expenses. Meals, snacks, drinks in a backpack. There’s a wide selection of food and drink available at reasonable prices.

You can book tickets for Zebra online here or call the Chengdu Ticket Hotline: 028-65920088 or 65920099

#1. Why Should I Go?

This is your only chance to enjoy anything even close to this for a year until this happens again. Seize the opportunity to see some of China’s most popular and breakthrough artists, and even if the music isn’t always great by the standards of most Westerners, the experience itself is a blast. This picture describes it pretty well:

Zebra Music Festival

Zebra Music Festival 2010 Lineup

Saturday, May 1st

Main Stage:

15:40 龙神道 Dragon Tao (rock)
17:00 马赛克 Mosaic (Indie pop, dance rock)
18:20 Asaf Avidan& the Mojos (indie rock , Israel)
19:40 宠物同谋 pet conspiracy (electronic rock)
21:00 猴子飞行员 Monkey Pilot (rock, Taiwan)
21:30 热狗 MC Hot Dog (rap, Taiwan)
22:00 张震岳 Zhang zhen yue (pop rock , Taiwan)
22:30 DJ (To be announced)

Sky Stage:

15:00 育婴堂 Yuyintang (melodic metal)
16:20 Falling Cookies (rock)
17:40 马老板 Boss Ma (Jazz)
19:00 童党 Tongdang (rock, emo)
20:20 愚人船 Foolish boat (Post Punk Alternative)
21:30 变色蝴蝶 Proximity Butterfly (Psychedelic Rock )

Sunday, May 2nd

Main Stage:

15:40 咖啡因 Caffeine (Pop punk, ska)
17:00 小护士 La Petite Nurse (indie rock, Taiwan)
18:20 阿修罗 Asura (pop punk)
19:40 谭维维 Tan wei wei (Pop star, Supergirl)
21:00 张杰 Zhangjie (Pop star, Happyboy)
22:00 Does it offend you, yeah (electronic rock from Britain)
22:30 DJ (to be announced)

Sky Stage:

15:00 自然而燃 Zi ran er ran (new metal)
16:20 鱼尾纹 Crow’s-feet (indie pop)
17:40 降临 Widerfahren (black metal)
19:00 深绿海 The Deep Green Sea (indie pop, trip-hop )
20:20 太阳飞船 Sun spaceship (alternative)
21:30 热超波 Re chao bo (Ska Reggae Punk)

Monday, May 3rd

Main Stage:

15:40 未来脚踏车 Futuristic Push-bike (indie alternative rock)
17:00 海龟先生 Turtle (Punk, Reggae, Ska, Vintage)
18:20 Reptile and Retard (electro rock, Denmark )
19:40 痛苦的信仰 Miserable Faith (hardcore, reggae, metal)
21:00 Exile Parade (Brit pop)
22:00 苏打绿 Sodagreen (pop, Taiwan)
22:30 DJ (to be announced)

Sky Stage:

15:00 大象迷 elephant fan (folk )
15:40 吴卓玲 Wu zhuo ling (Indie Acoustic Folk Electronica Soundtrack Ambient)
16:20 树子 Tree (pop,folk)
17:40 赵牧阳 Zhao mu yang (folk)
19:00 两只手枪 2 pistols (folk)
20:20 小河 Xiao he (folk ,experiment)
21:30 周云蓬 Zhou yun peng (folk)


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Charlie

About Charlie

Having lived in Chengdu for ten years, Charlie has traveled to every corner of China and back again, calling the Yulin neighborhood of Chengdu his adopted home.

19 Responses to “5 Questions About Zebra Music Festival”

  1. I heard they keep techno stage this time but not xiongmao. And http://www.udance.com won’t come this time. I wonder which party host the techno stage this year. The Zebra CEO was planning to invite chemical brother last year but somehow it didn’t happen. If chemical brother come this time, I will go absolutely!!!!

    • Charlie

      No one but Xiong Mao or Udance could possibly host the techno stage! If 88 or something hosts it, it will be a complete disaster.

      Too bad they couldn’t get Chemical Brothers, that would’ve been incredible. They have a huge stage and tons of people – what they really need is an ACTUAL headliner. Someone like Chemical Brothers or The Prodigy, Rage Against The Machine (a particularly unlikely candidate!), John Mayer, The Pixies, Daft Punk, etc. You know, a headliner with an international following. Headlining the festival with S.H.E. is bullshit.

      • I definitely agree with you, it was stupid to see S.H.E and other pop stars on festival. No doubt plenty young 90后 kids came for S.H.E, maybe that’s how they identify MUSIC FESTIVAL with watching pop garbage on stage. The Zebra CEO was kinda upset about the lineup, cuz China mobile was the biggest sponsor for the festival and they insisted on inviting S.H.E, and the girl who was the Super girl (forgot the name, sorry)came too, Zebra couldn’t resist. I was so disappointed to see them on stage, that felt like… this is not a real outdoor festival ,it’s more like pop music show. That’s really disgusting. People talked about it on internet too, last year the rock n roll fans had a fight with pop fans a few times, but it’s Zebra, it’s not Midi. Midi fans are more faithful to the music I think.

  2. Zebra was a good time last year and I’ll go back again this year. You’re right, there is just nothing like that in Chengdu. Unfortunately, you’re also right about the music…

    Hopefully this year will have a better lineup than last year, although I suspect the promoters know that it won’t make much of a difference on actual turnout.

  3. Seabass

    So Charlie, I gather you are really pulling for John Mayer to headline Zebra this year? 🙂

    • Charlie

      He wouldn’t be my first choice, but yeah, I think he would be a kickass headliner at Zebra. A lot of his music is very poppy, but he’s a great musician and I think his reputation was solidified when he started appearing at Crossroads festival along with BB King and Eric Clapton.

      Plus, Chinese people would love him!! 🙂

      Check this clip of him playing live to see what I’m talkin’ about. All of his Twitter antics and so on are silly but he is a certified badass musician: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sPmTgPvx28

  4. It would be fairly cool to have a decent big-name headliner, but the people you mentioned with an international following is just not gonna bring in the crowds in Chengdu (unless it’s a really big name). A no-pop festival would just fail, and the site would be much emptier. It’s been floating around that 150,000 people came last year, but I sincerely doubt that’s the case. So I think if you want a festival on this scale at all, you need compromise. There are a lot of kids that are open to both pop and rock and learning about new music, so a more mixed line-up works, I think. It gives them a chance to be exposed to new, independent music, and it gives local bands a chance to get on a big-ass stage and get more exposure. So I think it’s worth it. After all, it’s hardly gonna ruin my fun. And if we were being purist, there would be no run at all.

    FYI – there’s a copy of the line-up here with genre descriptions of all the bands

    http://www.echinacities.com/cityguide/Chengdu/news/cityspecial.aspx?n=5131

    Seems to be no word yet on any DJ element though – Panda stage? An inside tent? Anyone know any more on this? I really hope there’s a DJ stage again, that made a big difference. Big mixed group of people dancing in the mud for hours was a load of fun.

    • Charlie

      I disagree about the headliner, I think someone like Chemical Brothers or the Prodigy would make the place ridiculously crowded with people. People would be coming from all over the country for that. As it stands, many local music fans are voicing their disapproval of Zebra online (which we’ll write more about shortly).

      I’ll probably go, but I had the most fun by far last year at the Xiong Mao stage, which won’t even be there this year. On the lineup they list “DJ” without naming anyone. I expect it to be extremely weak. Hopefully I’m wrong and there’s something like the Xiong Mao stage, but I’m skeptical.

      Thanks for posting the lineup Fran, I’ll edit that into this post. It’s been posted in the forum (www.chengduforum.com) for a few days too. 🙂

      • Hmm, I’m still not convinced. Yeah Prodigy or Chemical Brothers would go down well (although not with me particularly, they’re both pretty boring for me now), but I don’t think they’d attract that many more. I know they’re just examples, but I guess I think it’d be pretty hard to find a headliner with enough of a following to bring in a large enough crowd if it isn’t pop. They would have to be mighty famous and respected, (I’m thinking Bjork or Radiohead as examples), and even other festivals in China don’t get people that famous to come and perform.

        I understand people are grumbling about it, and it’s a shame that pop acts take up the place of what could be better independent acts. But there’s only a few pop stars, and realistically without them I doubt the festival could go ahead at all on this scale. Also it contributes to a pretty interesting diversity among the crowd, young/old, rich/poor, music-obsessed/just curious – something that is pretty unusual for most music festivals. Maybe that detracts from the atmosphere somewhat though.

        And I agree that no DJ stage sucks, and I really hope I’m wrong about that too. Otherwise the line-up looks like a decent mix of different kinds of music (although not my fantasy line-up, but then, it never is!).

        So I’ll definitely go. Plenty of fun to be had, especially if you forget all your prejudices 😉

        • Charlie

          Chemical Brothers and Prodigy are passe examples, but I think it’s headliners of that stature that can satisfy both music fans and financial backers. I think we agree that leaning too far in one direction (commerciality or budget-busting mega-bands) hurts the audience or its promoters.

          I really enjoyed the festival atmosphere last year, I’m definitely looking forward to that and hopefully agreeable weather.

          I found out today that Xiong Mao will host their electronic stage again if their current sponsor hunt is fruitful. Fingers crossed-

  5. Woops – mistake. And if we were being purist, there would be no *fun* at all.
    I just mean, there wouldn’t be a festival at all without the pop. And we can ignore the pop, so who gives a damn. That said, Mando-pop/Canto-pop *and* a decent big-name internationally respected act would be the best!

  6. i for one can’t wait to dance in the mud to my man Zhangjie’s happy happy lyrics …

  7. S.H.E. headlined last year – I expect nothing less than a vapid pop star at the top of the bill. Zebra doesn’t throw many curve balls.

  8. Charlie

    I stumbled upon a great article on musical festivals in China. It includes an interview with the person running Zebra Music Festival: http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/24/china-music-festival-markets-economy-scarlett-li.html

  9. Is Zebra Music Festival happening again next year? If so, I hope I can go!

  10. The line up of Zebra Music Festival is awesome. I hope I can go next year.

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