Strawberry Bitch Slap: Shou Wang & Helen Feng Speak Out
It seems audiences weren’t the only ones suffering from some of the Strawberry Festival’s shortcomings last weekend. Earlier this week we did a post on the relative merits of Strawberry versus Midi, and the consensus seemed to be that while both rocked, Midi was a much more pleasant experience for spectators, with massive queues to get in and a severe water shortage marring Strawberry for many. Over the past few days some of the artists have had their say, and it seems things weren’t much better behind the scenes down at Tongzhou Canal Park.
Guitar maestro and Carsick Cars frontman Shou Wang posted this story on his blog after the band’s performance at Strawberry (apologies for any shortcomings in the translation):
Don’t Tell Other People
"Joke 1: Yesterday, before performing at Strawberry I was dying of thirst, so I went to the VIP area and asked for a cup of water to drink. A staffer took a look at the list and said: "Your band is not a VIP!" I said, “So who is a VIP?” She said the sponsors. I again begged her to give me a glass of water, she thought about it and said, “OK, but please do not tell other people.” I said I promise not to tell others you gave me a drink!
In fact, the bands had no special requirements, just please treat us as human beings. Yesterday, the staff acted if we owed them money, and then we had to sign a provisional contract before the festival, promising we wouldn’t ruin their equipment. The most shabi thing was there were two cars on stage, so that meant we were the sick part! I wanted to jump on the cars while playing but my guitar cord wasn’t long enough.
Yesterday AV Okubo were supposed to have a sound check at 8.30, but they weren’t allowed to until 11 because some Super Pop Idol winner was on the console. So AV Okubo only got about 15 minutes.
In short, we will not participate in the Strawberry Music Festival again.”
Then Helen Feng of Pet Conspiracy and Free the Birds posted this comment about Strawberry on her Facebook page:
“The backstage was Painful! The space for the artists was a dirty dusty pit, no privacy and no bathrooms backstage which gave you the feeling of being more mingong than artist. Not that I’m a pussy, but it’s really hard change into a cat suit with 20 people walking in and out, some asking for autographs and all your clothes completely covered with loose dirt from the uncovered dirt floor. The ticketing was incredibly chaotic – in fact everything seemed incredibly chaotic. Location was far from town, and nothing had been worked out to manage traffic and transport. Our people couldn’t get in because the staff pass situation was a mess, and later we couldn’t get out because of the lack of cabs. The ticketing situation from what I heard was really bad. 40 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to buy tickets into the festival [actually many had to queue for several hours – ED].
After I hurt my leg, the organizer couldn’t provide transport for me back to the road. I had to catch another artist’s car as a ride to the road where I hailed a black cab to get to the hospital but luckily a fan offered me a ride. I ended up depending on the generosity of a fan to get to the hospital and not the organizers. That wouldn’t happen at any other festival in the world… being an artist here you feel a bit abused. But this seems generally the case at Modern Sky events…”
As well as Strawberry, Feng wrote at length about Midi and Chengdu’s Zebra Festival – China Music Radar has her complete post here. While she identified some problems with all three events, only Strawberry came in for really harsh criticism for treating both artists and audiences with contempt.
Modern Sky might want to do some damage control if they want anyone to play their festival in October.