There is something thrilling about witnessing hundreds of young Chinese rocking out in Central Park to bands from their home country that few others in New York have heard of.

It was hoped the Modern Sky Festival, held this month and organised by the Chinese indie record label of the same name, would help popularise the likes of New Pants, Miserable Faith, Hedgehog and the rising star of Beijing's "campus folk" movement, Song Dongye, in the United States.

A major indie music festival organiser in China, Modern Sky - which licensed Radiohead's album Kid A on the mainland - launched its first overseas event last year, also in Central Park. This year, the organisers have branched out with events in Europe as well as the US, and tweaked the format of the New York festival to make it a more cross-cultural experience.

Throughout the day, Chinese bands were alternated with English-speaking acts such as Gang of Four (their name references Chinese politics, but they are from Britain), Danish post-punk band Lower, and Yoko Ono and her conceptual Plastic Ono Band, to encourage different groups to listen to each other's music. Last year, the Chinese and Western acts were separated.

In the end, though, the audience was mainly Chinese.

"We promoted the event in the Chinese community as well as at mainstream music events. But this year, it seems we've got even more Chinese than last year," said Michael LoJudice, director of international affairs at Modern Sky. "This is New York. There might be 20 concerts going on today in town. Even big international names sometimes are not able to attract the audiences they want."

Some of the Chinese musicians at the festival had clearly hoped to reach an overseas audience. Pop-punk act New Pants, for example, greeted the audience in English, albeit spoken with a heavy accent, despite cries from the audience for them to "speak Chinese!"

Song, who became famous on home soil in 2013 after one of his tracks, Ms Dong, was performed on a Chinese TV talent show, made his debut American performance at the festival.

"I don't think my music can be easily understood by many non-Chinese speakers," Song said. "But there are many indie bands in China that do high-quality international standard music. They deserve international recognition."

But for festival attendee Eric Lin, who recently graduated and works for an accounting firm in New York, the disappointment over the lack of a Western audience was unnecessary.

"There are more and more Chinese living in the US," he said, while humming the lullaby-like track being performed on stage by Song. "This is a big enough market to tackle for these Chinese bands."