Tags: Beijing, China, Fête de la Musique, Indie, Pop, Rock, Zakka

Beijing Rocks!


Guest contributor Thomas Reemer, founder & CEO of music agency 88tc88, shares his impressions from the second-ever Fête de la Musique in China’s capital

The surprise hit at midnight. Although La Fête de la Musique Beijing 2013 was a small affair, it was refreshing to listen to artists who have no open commercial agenda. The bars were full, a mix of generations, nationalities and reasons. Beijing is close to the desert, the yellow dust reminds me of that every day. And the heat does of course. This night was no different.

Gulou Street, north of the Forbidden City, between the Drum and the Bell tower, was packed with people moving from bar to bar in search of a music night out. Secretly admiring the dedication that artists put into their craft, envying the strength it takes especially in China to pick up a guitar and form a band. Since the one child policy puts all responsibility of the whole family on the one child, forfeiting a career as a doctor, teacher or manager to make music takes a lot of courage.

music lovers in Jianghu bar

Beijing’s Fête de la Musique drew a young audience

“We call it independent rock”

And I could tell especially by watching Zakka play at midnight. A Beijing local rock outfit that lets me forget all the soppy ballads I have to suffer through blurring out of the radio all day. And even talking to the Beijing-based band convinced me. For the members of the band it is more than just having fun or making noise. It is also about idealism and passion – and when I asked for their band history, the 27-year old singer said:

”We started our band not in imitating a certain band or style, we just followed our heart. After the passage of time, our music just formed as a mixture of pop rock and British rock. If you ask for the reason, it might be we all quite fond of these types of music. We never tried to categorize our music into certain genre, thus we call it independent rock. Just like other Chinese young bands, our performance is very plain in some way, but we always think the lyrics should convey the essential spirit of a song, thus we always made our endeavors mostly onto lyrics.“

Zakka live on stage

Zakka live on stage at Jiangjinjiu Bar (疆进酒酒吧)

Zakka’s (左卡乐队) new album will be released later this year

They need to make it

Zakka released their first album “The World I Know” in 2012. Their new album was being produced in a recording studio in Britain, it will be released this fall. There is more of this in Beijing And there it is, the dedication, close to desperation, engraved into the face of Zakka’s singer. They need to make it, they can‘t afford to fail. There is hunger, where I am obviously far from starving. The set is excellent, the pressure to not loose your face having made the decision to become an artist is palpable.

There is more of this in Beijing. This city is just commercial on the surface, but even richer underneath. The night is short on the longest day of the year, but the energy from this event will last long.

Story & pictures by Thomas Reemer

Artwork by krashkid