Breaking: Music Buffs Dismayed After Majority of Sound of the Xity Gets Scrapped

Bad news for Beijing music buffs: the sprawling, ambitious Sound of the Xity has been decimated this weekend. Instead of the slated seven shows over the next two evenings, only tonight's (Friday, Apr 13's) gig at Tango will go forward, featuring performances by UK acts Yuck (pictured in the lead image above) and The Slow Reader Clubs (for more information about that gig, click here).

Coordinators confirmed the cancelations just hours before tonight's gigs, but would not divulge why. Multiple sources, who were directly involved but spoke on the condition of anonymity, say the cancelations came after local authorities were tipped off.

Music festivals are not permitted in Beijing's city center. Sound of the Xity, however, aimed to set itself apart as a conference that allows musicians to network with visiting execs and insiders from abroad, while also featuring numerous gigs under its banner. It appears that distinction didn't satisfy the authorities, however, leading to the sudden cancelations. This is not the first time that Sound of the Xity has suffered such setbacks. In 2016 drastic changes were made to its schedule at the eleventh hour (which you can read more about here).

All is not yet lost, however: the coordinators are making last-ditch efforts to find a new venue and salvage the last day of Sound of the Xity, though nothing has been confirmed yet (if that changes, we will update this blog accordingly).

It's certainly a bitter, sudden finale for what began as a laudably wide-ranging music extravaganza. As we reported on Apr 11, the Apr 11-14 Sound of the Xity was comprised of "47 bands over 12 showcases in six venues over the week."

This year's iteration got off to a strong start according to Xue Ran, guitarist for the local indie rock troupe Glow Curve, which played the Apr 12 Sound of the Xity gig at Yugong Yishan. He said he "enjoyed our performance there very much. It was memorable because it was a chance to play several of our newest songs."

That sentiment was echoed by Wei "Leslie" Du, singer for the local indie pop duo Nocturnes, which played the Apr 12 Sound of the Xity gig at DDC. "It's pretty shit," she said of the cancelations, adding "a lot of people came" to their prior fest gig and "it went really well. I guess we were just lucky to have been scheduled earlier on."

Leslie's bandmate in Nocturnes, David Carey, said Sound of the Xity's first days were not only a success in terms of gigs, but also as a networking opportunity for local acts and visiting music insiders. "The showcase in DDC went great, and the 1-to-1 speed meetings for bands with foreign festivals and music companies earlier that day were fantastic too. Things were obviously a little rushed in setup with so many bands, and DDC is a small space, but we had a great show in the end, and it was pretty packed!"

Despite today's bad news, Carey tried to stay positive, saying: "Hopefully the festival can continue next year, it definitely gives bands like ours the opportunity to make contacts outside of China and to start looking at touring and festival options elsewhere."

Eric Ji, frontman and synth player for local art rockers The Peppercorns, which was on the same bill as Nocturnes, agrees, telling TBJ: "For me it’s quite a pity for the performers and the organizers, because a lot of work and resources were put into it. I hope the event won’t be permanently shut down."   

Ji's hopes are no doubt shared by many Beijing music fans, who can at least take consolation in tonight's sole remaining Sound of the Xity set at Tango, while also keeping their fingers crossed that tomorrow's gigs can still be saved.  

Photo: Courtesy of Sound of the Xity

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