Two days down, one to go – that was the mentality going into my last waltz with Strawberry. But luckily, it didn’t take long for me to get over my drowsiness and with the help of my somewhat competent friends and the ever-so lazy security, who allowed us to toss over duffle bags full of liquid fuel for the day – day three was on!
I made it in time to catch the tail-end of Steely Heart’s performance. Now, I’ve been meaning to catch these kids play for sometime and I gotta say I enjoyed the small taste I got of them. A mix of electronic indie rock and old school melodies, it was light, unassuming, and fun. There was a slight issue though and I think if you watch this video it’ll become clear
Yes, our lead singer is shit-faced it seems. This was made clear later on, when he passed out by ‘my rock’ and my lanky German friend carried him off with a slew of not-so-bright security guards. Rock n’ roll indeed.
Brain Failure followed, showing what one could only call true musical professionalism. Tight, energetic, and not missing a beat, they put on forty minutes of pure unadulterated old school rock and roll fun.
No fat on these guys. Every member is given their spotlight moment, and not once did it ever feel like there was any disparity between the band and the audience. Perhaps a trite comment, but really that’s one of the key ingredients to being a great punk band – placing yourself on the same level as your fans. So when they play a song like “Coming To Beijing” – it feels just as much your song as theirs.
They set the mood of good-natured shenanigans for the rest of the day.
Next up was Carsick Cars, and this was probably the first time I’ve seen them on such a large set…with only three members, I was certain this would hinder the band’s reception. Fear not kids, for Carsick Cars was in fine form today.
I think these guys are aging quite nicely – Zhang Shouwang is only getting better on that guitar of his (there were even times I was sure he would right hand would simply fall off in defeat), the other members held their ground, and the songs are sounding richer and richer.
It’s almost as if Shouwang has find ways to play along with the songs structures, injecting new life in them, and having a blast doing it – though his face will never say so (he’s too Lou- Reed circa-70s cool for that). There is a lot more emotion in their songs, as evident in “She Will Wait”, a lovely ode of a song covered in feedback and distortion.
Overall, Carsick Cars put on a solid show, and really it’s about time we get some new material from these boys, cause, like most of you out there, I’m itching for it.
A few minutes after Cars’ set, hordes of people began packing in – and based on yesterday’s experiences, this couldn’t be a good thing. I’m being a bit harsh though – Crowd Lu, the Taipei pop singer-songwriter, and winner of countless awards, is quite the sweetie. He’s got a good voice, is quite good on his guitar, and his music is easy on the ears.
However, when you’re many beers deep and with a bunch of other dudes, there is no way this was gonna work out. So being the manly men we were, we headed over to the metal stage to catch Twisted Machine, and boy, am I glad I did.
The place was ecstatic – the type of atmosphere you only get to see ever so often here in Beijing. A mix of hardcore and nu metal – TM has a heavy sound, justifiably, and with Liang Liang’s primal scream of a voice, it’s hard not wanna let it all out. The highlight for me was when they sang “Thirty”, a hauntingly beautiful song.
But if I had to pick the show of the day to anyone, it’d have to be Hedgehog.
Seriously, these guys were on fire tonight. They commanded the audience’s attention from beginning to end – and made it look easy.
Their time aboard has definitely hardened these guys up, as I’ve yet to hear them play with this amount of confidence before. Just watching Atom attack these drums with precision cemented this notion.
And yeah their new material, including the above “Surf With Sharks” is electrifyingly good. The crowd there ate it up gleefully. I must point out too, there are no better fans than Hedgehog fans – just check out the mood during “Tree”
These are the happiest concertgoers ever. Their new album release next month can’t come soon enough. More please!
And then there was one more – the big mama XTX. And though it was hard to muster up energy at this point, but hell, these guys are a force of nature.
Just straight up raw rock n roll. I spent a lot of times in the crowd for this one, just because it simply demanded it. The crowd was hungry, and believe they got their full.
I did make a pre-emptive decision to leave before they finished their set – survival of the fittest I suppose. I’d had my fill, and my belly was bulging. Three days, too many bands, some good finds, some sickening music, lots of sun dresses, and good times all around – the 2012 Strawberry Festival was a blast. Let’s make this the start to a fruitful festival season. Check out some more videos below and here are links to my coverage of Day 1 and Day 2.