Treaty of Nanking

Blossom festival built on solid rock

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am


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Nanjing staged its second outdoor rock music festival - the Nanjing International Music Festival, also known as Blossom - in April and, given the improvement on last year's impromptu winter festival, the city is set to make it an annual event.

The city's first foray into rock festivals was nearly rained out last November. Equipment faltered and artists wore gloomy faces as the rain poured down, but thousands of students from Nanjing University and Nanjing Normal University turned up and the show was back on track.

In April, the weather was bright, the turnout bigger than before and the lineup featured local and international bands of note. The organisers of Blossom have vowed to make the festival an annual gig and they have little choice if they want to keep Nanjing's students happy and not lose face in front of the whole country's rock scene.

The festival is a welcome addition to the city's live music scene, which revolves around established veterans, the Castle Bar and Jidi 77. Live rock music is not new to China - Cui Jian has been centre stage since the 1980s - but most of the action has taken place in Beijing or cities such as Shanghai, Chengdu and Wuhan. Now, with its own annual festival taking shape, the potential is there for Nanjing to make its mark.

'[Nanjing is] a huge untapped market with lots of young people hungry for more [live rock]. Because of the growing economic power in China, a lot of artists are - or should be - eager to get established in this market,' Holger Carlsson, co-founder of LW Productions, a film and music company specialising in Asian markets, told local media.

The club and dance hall venues centred around the 1912 district also continue to get bigger and glitzier. The bar street has exploded in the past five years into the premier clubbing destination for Nanjing's fun-loving local crowd.

The balance is still heavily in favour of the glitzy club scene of the 1912 district, but if Blossom can put together another stellar festival next spring, live music will have a firm foothold in Nanjing, giving thousands of rock-loving students something to cheer about.