Last Saturday Dylan went to his second music festival, this time to one of the biggest in China, the Midi festival in Haidian park. Although this year’s festival lasted four days, we only went to the first day since our friend’s band, Shan Ren, was playing on Saturday. The lead singer of Shan Ren, a guy nicknamed Lao Wai, is someone that both my husband and I knew before we knew each other. After we started dating we learned that we had many mutual friends, so many that it was hard to believe we hadn’t really run into each other sooner. At the time Lao Wai was playing in both Shan Ren and another band, the band of the guy who was eventually responsible for Wang Yao and I getting together. In any case I used to watch Lao Wai play almost weekly and knew him rather well. Wang Yao used to play small gigs in Kunming dive bars with him, so both of us were happy to see an old friend onstage and went out to show our support.
In the meantime while waiting for Shan Ren to come onstage we checked out a bunch of folk music on one of the smaller stages. Wang Yao is a musician and he mostly considers himself a folk singer. Recently he’s gotten quite inspired by several local folk musicians that we didn’t much have the opportunity to associate with or even see perform when living in Kunming. In particular he’s liking Zhou Yunpeng, a blind singer/guitarist who we saw live on our anniversary back in December. The folk stage was very chilled out and a good place for a toddler to run around — not too noisy and with a nice laid back crowd that wasn’t about to trample him or anything. We managed to see most of a set by Dongzi, a performer I quite like, and another guy, Zhao Muyang, a drummer for loads of famous people like Xu Wei, who has come out and started doing his own solo acts which are strongly influenced by Northwestern folk singing. I suppose we were probably missing much more famous rock and roll people over on the mainstage while we hung out with the folk-rockers but the music was much more our speed.
Finally Shang Ren came on and we left the folk stage and made our way over to the main stage. Dylan is probably Shan Ren’s youngest little fan — he loves their music, which is a mixture of rock and Yunnanese folk. Most of it is sung in Yunnan dialect, which cracks Dylan up. He’s at a stage where he gets that there are different languages in the world and he finds other languages unbelievably funny and laughs uncontrollably when he hears a language other than Mandarin Chinese. There’s one Shan Ren song in particular that gets him every time. So although he was a bit exhausted by the time the band’s set started, he remained in good spirits throughout. We were not as close to the stage as I would have gotten had we not been there with my toddler, and I don’t have a good telephoto lens, so the pictures I got of their set were mostly unimpressive, but I did manage to get a few decent shots.
Later on we were able to catch up with our old friend for a few minutes and made plans to meet again later in the week. We also manage to track down Stuart, a fellow teacher at my school who I actually have known for about four years. He’s another Kunming – Beijing transplant who has having a hard time adjusting to Beijing but hopefully the realization that Beijing has events like Midi which honestly, Kunming, as hard as it tries, really just can’t pull off (despite the Snow Mountain music festivals which have been successful, but rare occurances). We finally made it back home by about 10pm having managed to just barely beat the crowd by skipping out on the last act, the headliner He Yong (sorry He Yong, but we just weren’t really feeling it).
Wang Yao was remarking on the way home how lucky Dylan is that at the ripe age of two and a half he’s already been to two rather large music festivals. Dylan is certainly growing up surrounded by music — whether that makes him love or loathe it in the future remains to be seen, but for now he seems to enjoy the fun and commotion of it all. Let’s hope music continues to be, if not a passion, at least something that he and his father can share.