Experience Chengdu’s Zebra Music Festival Through These Photos
Chengdu’s Zebra Music Festival reached its conclusion last Monday evening as Edison Chen (of sex photo scandal fame) took the stage for his comeback tour. As with the previous two years, I attended all three days (performing on the last day) and came back with photos to share.
This post is for those who couldn’t be at Chengdu Zebra Music Festival and want to get a feel for what it was like. If this sounds like you, here are some quick notes about Zebra before you jump straight into the photos:
- Started in 2009, this year was the third annual Zebra Music Festival in Chengdu
- Festival organizers claim that attendance this year was 150,000. I and others are skeptical of this figure but regardless, it was a very well-attended event
- The vast majority of performers were domestic bands and pop artists, although the lineup was punctuated by the occasional foreign act. Local bands The Trouble, Mr Turtle, Proximity Butterfly and Mosaic were all main stage performers this year
- Xiong Mao (Chengdu’s now-defunct home of electronic music) didn’t host their own stage at the festival this year. Rather, DJ’s were slotted to perform for the final few hours on the second (Sky) stage
- To see a full lineup from the festival, check our post in the Chengdu Forum about Zebra Music Festival
Photos from Zebra Music Festival
As in previous years, I brought along a frisbee to the festival. It was a huge hit and in the afternoon between bands we’d have a circle of 15 people playing together. Many at Zebra told me that the festival atmosphere and outdoor setting was what brought them there more than anything else.
Myself (and my good friend Kafe, pictured below) caught a ride up to the festival grounds at 198 Poly Park near the Panda Base outside of Chengdu. Taxi fare from Chengdu to the festival grounds was about 50 yuan.
Outside of the entrance gates, an enormous banner listed performance times. As always, it was ridden with mistakes. Here you can see me as “Justchaile” and Cvalda (a local drum & bass DJ) is listed as being American.
Vendors were scattered around the park selling t-shirts, stickers, and post cards. This particular group (“F.E.S.”) brought stickers and tie-dye t-shirts.
Nearby the Sky Stage was a small half pipe which skaters and BMX riders performed on during the day.
Frisbee action in the afternoon. This frisbee got used so much it crack and then nearly split in half after being tossed thousands of times. Before this I’d never seen a frisbee break like that before.
Between the main stage and Sky stage were Jagermeister and Budweiser tents. Drinks are cheap at Zebra! 10 yuan for a Budweiser can and 10 yuan for an ice-cold shot of Jagermeister. It was much, much easier to obtain alcohol than bottled water at the festival.
Local band Proximity Butterfly opens up the main stage on the afternoon of the first day.
This array of hotdogs served as bait to get festival attendees to signup for a cell phone music service. Upon signup, you’d be given two tickets which you can exchange for hotdogs. No one signed up or ate them and these guys seemed to be just standing around in front of hotdogs all day.
Our friend and esteemed Chengdu graffiti artist Gas was in attendance.
This banner didn’t last long before being defaced by pranksters.
The food area included this guy grinning and offering what looks like 50 pounds of chicken feet and assorted organs.
And coconuts! 15 yuan included a hole poked in the coconut with a colorful straw.
Festival security guards were laid back and pleasant as always. Here they sat in a grassy field and chatted.
A sign indicating the Xiong Mao electronic stage from last year. There was no such stage this year, but the sign has persisted in this location for one year.
One vendor sold do it yourself t-shirts, painted on site with whatever message or imagery you like.
Cotton candy cost 5 yuan, or about $0.80.
Although vendors were informally scattered around the festival grounds, there was a designated vendor area. Clothing, shoes, and various trinkets were for sale here.
Local band The Trouble opened the festival on the second day. Seen here on the large screen (and below playing guitar) is the bands lead singer and guitarist, Gao Xin.
Local music producer and friend Jovian performed on the third day. An experimental set of live bass and performing all original production.
I performed just after sunset on the third day, playing a multi-genre medley set featuring Metallica, James Brown, Guns ‘n Roses, and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
The Jagermeister tent went for broke on the last evening of the festival, selling double shots for 10 yuan.
Edison Chen stepped on stage saying “I am Edison Chen!” to the enthusiastic cheers of the massive crowd.
On the last evening we had fun playing leap frog and taking photos.
A large helicopter paid a visit to the main stage on the afternoon of the third day. It descended to a very low altitude and circled around the stage for about 10 minutes. In between songs, the lead singer of the local band performing said “Whoa! That’s a huge helicopter!” and everyone laughed together.我靠！好大的直升飞机！
Performing with Kafe on the second stage.
Even with its difficulties (technical problems and mediocre programming being foremost), it was still a blast enjoying the good weather in Chengdu with friends. And in a sense, we’re lucky that Zebra Music Festival didn’t befall the tragic fate of Suzhou’s Strawberry festival which was abruptly cancelled.
Thanks to local photographer Xixi who contributed the last ten photos featured above. You can follow him on Sina Weibo (the Chinese twitter) right here.
If you attended Zebra in Chengdu, I’d love to hear what your experience at the festival was like in the comments below.