Big Love has made big promises: With 100 acts on four stages in four days, it's definitely bigger than any Zebra Festival to date, and it's obvious that the organizers aim to cater not only to the city's young stage divers, but to the 30-something-year-old head bobbers who grew up listening to the rock of the 1990s. And compared to other Chinese festivals (Strawberry, MIDI), Big Love's lineup and competition-free timing could actually be enough to motivate the Shanghaier or Beijinger to visit Chengdu during this year's Dragon Boat Festival.
It's been almost a year since the first details of Big Love Festival were made public. Despite other changes to the event (the place and time, for instance), the lineup is for the most part the same as before. Headlining the main Big Love Stage are the British answer to the Backstreet Boys, Blue, who already made an appearance in Chengdu at the official event press conference to sing their schmaltzy smash hit "One Love" not once but twice. Japanese Bossa Nova singer Lisa Ono will perfrom, and the main stage will be rounded out by a Mando/Cantopop smorgasbord of superboys, supergirls, and "talents" from the Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, led by Taiwanese gangster-turned-pop star Chyi Chin and Mandopop godfather Harlem Yu. Representing Sichuan are singer Sitar Tan and Runtu, who raps about his simple life and noodles in biaozhun Sichuanese.
The pop acts extend their reaches to the Big Rock Stage (yes, in spite of its name) with the likes of Ou and Yan, Wang Feng and Macao casino boss Stanley Ho's daughter's ridiculously named act Josie Ho and the Uni Boys. That aside, the rock stage features a remarkable number of well known and never-before-seen-in-Chengdu '90s bands including alternative rockers Ash, Britpop pioneers Suede, American hardrockers Extreme (whose front man ex-VanHalen Gary Cherone we interviewed in issue 46, "Holidays"). The legendary Cui Jian leads the pack of mainland rockers along with China's first metal heads Tang Dynasty, Xie Tian Xiao aka XTX , and moody rockers Muma & Third Party.
The Big Dream Stage showcases folk and world music artists such as Mongolian musicians Sainkho Namchylak, Hanggai, and Haya, Kazakh band IZ from Xinjiang, and Shanren from Yunnan. The union of blind singer Zhou Yunpeng and the very visual and experimental Xiao He from Glorious Pharmacy is sure to deliver an edgy performance, and finally, the local rock scene delivers the inevitable: Ashura, The Trouble, Soundtoy, Mr. Turtle, Mosaic, and 48V.
DJ stage Big E suffered a blow when it was announced that originally scheduled headliners Detroit techno DJs Jeff Mils and John Tajeda would be replaced by Japanese Ken Ishi and Berlin techno DJ Ellen Allien. Much of the rest of the lineup seems primed to deliver hour upon hour of relentless trance music to shake your head to. The full details of the Big E stage have not yet been released.
The good news is that unlike Zebra's Poly Park, the Intangible Heritage Park is (just) within Chengdu's city limits, so the fights with taxi drivers that inevitably break out at Poly in theory should not play a part at Big Love. The trip is around 15km from the south of the city and should run approximately RMB50. Any other means of public transport (i.e., bus lines 518, 904, or 309) will probably tack on an additional hour to the journey, but organizers claim there will be a shuttle bus departing every 10 to 15 minutes to ferry festival-goers to and fro.
The hotel attached to the Intangible Cultural Heritage convention center has allegedly been fully booked for visiting performers and staff. Camping is allowed for those who hold a four-day pass.
The 1.6 sqkm festival grounds are complete with areas for a beer fest, a Sichuanese food street, a carnival, performances, exhibitions, creative markets, an "improvisation area," a car show, and camping grounds with a campfire in the evening and light shows. Rental bicycles are available on site.
From the event website:
Pre-sale (before June 15) 1-day pass: RMB240
1-day pass: RMB298
4-day pass: RMB800
Big Love International Music Festival 2012 大爱音乐节 2012
Date: June 21 to 24
Location: International Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition Park
601 Guanghua Dadao, Sect. 2 (south side of the Guanghua Dadao exit of the High-Speed Ring Road) 国际非物质文化遗产博览园光华大道二段601号
Acts on the Big Love, Big Rock, and Big Dream stages are scheduled to play 40 minutes each while DJs have two-hour sets.
Day 1 // Thursday // June 21
BIG ROCK 1:30 to 10:30 p.m.
The Metaphor 隐喻 Thrash metal
Hedgehog 刺猬 Indie rock
Re-Tros aka Rebuilding the Rights of Statues 重塑雕像的权利 Post rock
New Pants 新裤子Synth pop
Jun Zheng 郑钧
Tang Dynasty 唐朝 Hard rock
Extreme (US) Hard rock
Day 2 // Friday // June 22
Day 3 // Saturday // June 23
Day 4 // Sunday // June 24
BIG LOVE2 to 9:30 p.m.
Sitar Tan & Jeffrey G 谭维维&吉杰
Gary Chaw 曹格 (Malaysia)
Edison Chen 陈冠希 (Hong Kong)
Soda Green 苏打绿
Luo Dayou 罗大佑 (Taiwan)
Alan Ta 谭咏麟 & V4 女子乐队
BIG ROCK 1:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Lego Johnson (UK) Electro rock
The Face 面孔 hard rock
Josie Ho & The Uni Boys Cantopop
Catcher in the Rye 麦田守望者
Pu Shu 朴树 folk/pop
Xie Tian Xiao aka XTX 谢天笑
Cui Jian 崔健 (Beijing) rock