NOTE: The Big Love Festival has been officially postponed and its venue changed as of August 30, 2011. Click here for further information.
Yes, that's right, Mianyang (绵阳), one of Sichuan's rather unassuming second-tier cities, is promising to hold a festival even bigger than Chengdu's Zebra, bigger than MIDI, bigger than Strawberry—in the event organizers' own words, "China's largest and most comprehensive outdoor music festival to date."
Like Zebra, the Big Love Festival 大爱国际音乐节 is meant to commemorate the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake as well as celebrate the end of three years of reconstruction, giving locals the chance to throw their city name on the map. The festival has signed a five-year contract with the Mianyang government.
The Big Love Festival
Starting on October 2, the festival's 700 performers (constituting 88 bands) will play over four days. The only confirmed headliner so far seems to be Cui Jian (崔健), China's undisputed No. 1 rock legend.
Other headliners will be officially announced in at a July 11 press conference in Beijing, where reunited 1980s U.S. band "Extreme" are slated to play—it seems unlikely that they'll play only at the press conference. There was some buzz that Sonic Youth would make a comeback after their legendary 2007 concerts on the mainland in 2007, but for one reason or another it seems unlikely we will see the band playing again in China.
The biggest stage featuring mainstream and pop artists will be the centrally located "Big Love Stage" while the second stage, the "Big Rock Stage" will showcase mainly rock, indie, and metal bands from Beijing, such as Tang Dynasty, XTX, Miserable Faith, Metaphor, New Pants, Li Zhi, Yaksa, Su Yang, Hanggai, Wan Xiaoli, The Catcher in the Rye, Shanren, Muma, Ma Tiao, Liquid Oxygen Tin, Suffocated, as well as some folk and reggae acts, and the usual Chengdu lineup of Soundtoy, Ashura, Mosaic, and The Trouble. Diehard fans will be happy to know that the festival promises each act a full hour on stage, with the main headliners stretching their sets up to an hour-and-a-half each.
At the other end of the area the electronic stage will be set up with international talents John Tejada, Robag Wruhme, Jeff Mills, and Chris Liebing and others, overlaping new Panda's Electronic Music Festival, which starts October 1 in conjunction with the official opening of east Chengdu's "Music Park" and the Chengdu Biennale, among other events and exhibitions. Not to mention the yet-to-be-confirmed major to medium-sized festivals in Yibin, Xi'an, and Chongqing, which are making autumn 2011 a big season for southwest China's music scene.)
Back to Big Love, though: The festival site itself will boast 300 portable toilets and 140,000 sqm, of which 15,000 are dedicated to camping. We also spotted a football field on the map. Aiming at audiences in neighboring big cities Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi'an, and Kunming as well as the big three Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, the organizers have planned for a daily peak attendance of 50,000 with 100,000 over the course of four days.
Like every major festival, Big Love will be involved in charity, donating more than RMB1,000,000 to relief programs supporting women's art in Ningxia, a school renovation in the remote village of Yuexi, and 50 water stations in Sichuan's remote areas, providing clean water for more than 100,000 people in a project named "Loving Water Station." So spread the love.