By: Jocelle Koh
Set in the Shanghai International Music Village, I forwent Disneyland for the Rye Music Festival on my most recent trip. Boasting two stages with a lineup of forthcoming Mandarin indie and pop acts from both sides of the strait, it was my first time attending a music festival in China and I was excited to see what it would bring.
Set amongst a instagram-worthy field of rye and other herbs (the venue is usually a herb garden), there weren’t much attractions to speak of other than a 全民K歌 karaoke stage, a handful of stalls and a bizarre tent filled with claw machines (which ended up being our only pastime during the festival other than the acts).
But the two stages, equipped with solid sound systems proved to be more than enough to satisfy mine and the thousand(s)-strong crowds who thronged to attend the annual music festival.
Starting off on day one bright and early with one of my favourites Ann Bai 白安, the petite singer-songwriter delivered a better performance that day than the previous two I’d witnessed earlier in the year by being her charming and quietly sophisticated self.
Her band this time around seemed to fit better with her vibe to create a delectable organic atmosphere over which she delivered her light, lilting vocals for a perfect sunny day treat. Choosing tracks particularly fitting for this nature filled event, Ann performed “Catcher in the Rye 麥田捕手” and “Our Era 我們的時代” along with a couple other tracks from her hot-off-the-Press EP “44 days”. Choosing not to perform her crowd favourite “What Brings Me To You是什麼讓我遇見這樣的你” was a bold move that I fully appreciated too.
I doubt there was another act at the festival who performed in as many languages as The Chairs 椅子樂團, who performed repertoires in Mandarin, Taiwanese, English and Japanese at their showcase. The Taiwanese band’s cheerful and larrikin stage presence was refreshing to see. Performing in style with a five-piece band (adding drums and saxophone to their set), lead vocalist Yong Jing 詠靖 showed the crowd a good time with his “groovy, baby” Austin Powers stage persona which juxtaposed quirkily with his other two members’ more subdued presences. They performed a few new tracks released this year such as the cheerfully soulful “City Diving城市潛水” alongside older favourites “Dedede” which had the crowd bopping along to their sunny and diversely influenced brand of retro pop.