Thursday, October 12, 2006

NO+CH Festival Beijing

Over the Mid-Autumn Festival break I attended the NO+CH festival in Beijing, China. The NO+CH Festival was a 3 day music event which brought together artists from Nordic countries and artists from China in a cross cultural exchange of music and talent. Artists from Nordic countries included Kim Hiorthoy, Frost, Bugge Wesseltoft, and Eiving Aarset, among many others played at the event. The goal of the festival was to exhibit “tomorrow’s music today” through “a collaborative, improvisational, performance-based, genre-crossing musical experience” ( Taking place in 3 Chinese cities, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou NO+CH organizers hoped to spread the influence of Nordic music and culture to the people of China, who have had little exposure to Northern Europe.

For everyone’s own edification, the acronym NO+CH means Nordic Chinese Music Festival. The first two letters “NO” stand for Nordic, while the last two “CH” stand for the first two letters in China. The term notch, “also means a small groove, such as on a record. It’s as ubiquitous as on the surface of a CD or vinyl record, representing a high quality of music,” according to Yang Lei, organizer of the festival (

In Beijing, the event was held at a club called nhu. The space itself was interesting, a sort of contemporary styled building made of glass and light wood colored wood with a nice garden area in the front. The interior of the venue had a stage above a large dance floor, and then surrounding the dance floor area were couches and tables for drink service. The second level looked down upon the whole stage, and dance floor area, and was definitely the best place the view the performers without being pushed and jostled around.

When we first walked in, there was trash everywhere and dozens of various expat Europeans milling about the place, my initial impression was that it looked something like a modern day Woodstock but with wannabe Euro hipsters instead of hippies. The band we heard playing sounded like some sort of strange moaning mixed with electronica, but to give them some credit, everyone else seemed to be enjoying it. The highlight of my music experience that night was definitely the DJ that came on as the next act, who mixed some great techno/electronic/experimental tracks that even though I don’t usually listen to, thoroughly enjoyed.

I did notice that most of the participants in that night’s music festival were mostly Westerners. The goal of the festival according to the curator was to spread the Nordic influence to the Chinese market, but I’m not sure if it was really marketed to local Chinese so much as upscale club going Westerners. Besides the fact of the fairly high 70RMB admission fee, during the same time the NO+CH festival was being held, so was a huge Chinese rock festival.

As a whole, the NO+CH festival is way for people to experience other cultures in a laid back and fun setting. The love of music is a quality that transcends political, ethnic, and cultural boundaries. Brining together Nordic and Chinese artists to collaborate in a cross cultural music event, the NO+CH festival serves as a positive sign that China is ready and willing to learn about different cultures and ways of thinking that have so long been closed off to its entire society.


charlie cai said...

I guess Chinese still prefer Jolin Tsai, Jay Chou, and all the extremely Asian pop idols.

cardinale said...

Charlie, tell us more about Jolin Tsai and Jay Chou! Can you post links to their mp3's maybe?

Sonia, I attended the first night of NOTCH, and completely agree with you about the vibe, high admissions fees and the audience. In my case, the music was also brilliantly average, the line-up completely screwed up and the audience had to sit to listen to music, which was completely awkward. I was out to recruit a VJ for a friend's event and thought this could be a good place for me to begin the talent search, as one of the VJ's was the new generation video artist Song Tao.(represented by Shangart gallery) His work was completely useless however, espcially in the music context. The artist was plugging in all the gimmicky filters of hand-held video cameras into his live feed, and distracting audiences away from the performance of the actual DJ on-site wih his poorly choreographed imagery...

AlexFeng said...

In fact,most teenager are fans of the Jolin Tsai,Jay Chou since they are not independent enough to pick up their favors,just follow the trend, many college guys now prefer western music.Hip-pop,rock, punk are also popular in campus, and in these area, most performers are from western countries.

charlie cai said...

I personally am not familiar at all with Jolin Tsai's music, but hearing good things from many of my friends, I gathered that she is quite popular in China. Same goes for Jay Chou.

Also, these two are recurring idols that seem to be broadcasted endlessly on the subway lines. And being frequently stuck on the sub, I get my more than healthy dose of both idols.