It's been a rather quiet year on the electronic-music front in Chengdu since Xiongmao Club aka Panda closed last year—even Zebra Music Festival snubbed the DJs this year, canceling the electronic-music stage of the first two years in favor of a lackluster and confused nighttime-only DJ schedule on the second stage.
But it's not the first time Tan Zhong, the main force behind Xiongmao and events organizing enterprise Wing Culture has closed a club only to reappear with an updated version. The difference is this time the Panda reincarnate is bigger than ever and backed by the municipal government, the Chengdu Media Group, and China Mobile. In theory it should put Chengdu's electronic-music scene on a national level. A puzzle piece integrated into a seemingly endless arrangement of other bars, clubs, cafes, live houses, galleries, and studios, the new Panda is an essential part of the forthcoming development known as "Chengdu East Music Town."
Housed in one of Chengdu's many redbrick factory areas along the northeast section of the Second Ring Road, the music town is touted as the city's new center for urban culture, music, art, and creative industry. To mark the opening of the 1.7 million sqm factory, three major cultural events will be staged, the biggest being the ever-growing Chengdu Biennale, which features more than 100 artists and is so monstrous that preparations for it are in the meanwhile completely occupying the nearby Chengdu International Photography Center. In addition to its main contemporary-art exhibition, the Biennale will also feature architecture and design exhibits. The second one, maybe for the first time a Chinese film festival that lasts a record six-week period, and last not least Panda Festival.
Surely a real "rave" won't get much ads being played on local radio and TV the daily paper, but even so it surely the Panda (Electronic art center) will be a worthwhile electronic music festival with a three-day setup with 50 artists on up to four stages, and a maximum outdoor's capacity of 20,000 on the opening day, after which the party moves behind closed doors after 10 p.m.
Day 1 is dedicated to house and techno and who better to headline than a trio sent from Berlin's infamous Tresor?—minimal techno DJs Lawrence aka Sten, Efdemin, who's trying to converge minimal, deep house, and techno, and Berlin-based multimedia artist and VJ Makus.
The second day awaits with a even bigger headliner: Californian hip-hop producer and turntablist legend DJ Shadow embedded in a lineup of hip hop and drum 'n' bass. Day 3, "Electro," so far doesn't have a confirmed headline, and maybe won't, but as the lineup isn't yet finalized we might see some nice finishing touches with the likes of south China's hard dnb queen JCC, among others.
Panda Electronic Music Festival 2011 成都电子音乐节
October 1 to 3, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. (opening outdoor party starts October 1 at 2 p.m.)
RMB150 for 3-day pass; RMB80 for single-day (some complimentary drinks included). Available via ticket hotline or at Xiongmao, Little Bar, Hemp House, Café Paname, Lan Town, Jellyfish, White Nights, Shamrock, Circle Live Bar, Machu Picchu, Lotus Palace, Empty Bottle, Muse, and other usual suspects.
Day 1 Techno & House
Outdoor: Terry Yu, Efdemin, Lawrence, Yang Bing
Live: Yangqin, Eddie Lv, Zhiqi, Yang Bing
Club: Dave K, Mia, Geezer, Harry Ho
Outside: Dave, Andy Mac, Miss Mixit
Day 2 Hip Hop and Drum 'n' Bass
Live: Charlie, DJ Wu, Shadow, Joe, Cvalda
Club: DJ Rabbi, R-Sun, Songfei, Jovian
Day 3 Electro
Live: Eat Alien's Brain, Gramaphonetics, Liman, Sulumi
Club: Fiete, Martin, Future_k
This article was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 46 ("holiday").