After days of heavy rain in Beijing, the city brought out the sunshine and good vibes to welcome guests from afar and local crowds for The Creators Project: Beijing 2012, our third visit to Beijing and its remarkable 798 Art District. Saturday morning, people began to trickle into the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing’s premier contemporary arts space, and before long the place was packed, the crowd buzzing with anticipation, anxious to get their tickets and dive in to the 2-day program of art installations, musical performances, panel discussions, and film screenings in store.
Anthony Wong, “China’s David Bowie,” talks about the changing cultural scene in Hong Kong before a sold-out crowd.
The day began with some panels and workshops, which the audience rabidly devoured. In particular, a talk on the transformation of Hong Kong’s creative culture with Cantonese pop-singer Anthony Wong and an amusing presentation from new media art collective Meatmedia Lab had crowds lining up round the block. On the film front, the Chinese premiere of LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up And Play The Hits documentary filled up so quickly, we had to add another screening the next day.
CNdY kicked off the evening’s musical performances.
Shanghai-based alt rock legends Duck Fight Goose kicked the evening into high gear.
Chinese electronic music band CNdY kicked off the evening’s musical performances. Their energetic and fresh sound set the tone for a high-spirited night that also featured beloved Shanghai-based alternative rock band, Duck Fight Goose, whose performance shook the concert hall with trembling guitar riffs and abstract keyboard melodies. A few crowd surfers bobbed up and down in the sea of people, and we spotted a some girls dancing on their boyfriend’s shoulders—a perennial sign of a great rock show.
Real Estate played to Chinese audiences for the first time.
Next up, our Brooklyn hometown indie darlings Real Estate made their Beijing debut. They maintained the crowd’s buoyant vibe but shifted the mood from edgy experimental noise to warm melodies with their unmistakable chilled out Brooklyn indie sound. Up next it was a performance from the Chinese experimental legends FM3, who we haven’t seen play in public in a while. This time, they put away their Buddha Machines, the custom-made musical loop players they’re best known for, in favor of iPhones, iPads, and Macbook Pros to create punchy, Zen-inspired techno music that’ll make you feel like dancing even though it’s not exactly dance-able.
Chromatics play to an enthusiastic crowd.
Lead singer Ruth Radelet seduces listeners with her hypnotic vocals.
The crowd seemed to swell in size when Chromatics hit the stage. A dance party erupted as soon as Johnny Jewel began to fiddle with his magical vintage synthesizer, launching into the familiar twittering intro for their single “Tick Of The Clock.” Combined with perfectly synchronized blinding stage lights and the sound of Ruth Radelet’s hypnotic vocals, the audience was soon pulsating to a Chromatics-induced mesmerizing trance.
James Murphy gets his DJ set on.
The now defunct LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’s frontman, James Murphy, appeared in his DJ booth perch next to the main stage just as Chromatics were finishing up their set. Not letting the high go to waste, he let loose a driving disco beat that infected the crowd with a dancing bug the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time. The classic Talking Head song, “This Must Be The Place,” rung out at 2 a.m., bringing this epic party to a triumphant conclusion.
Stay tuned for more exclusive coverage from The Creators Project: Beijing 2012.
Photos by: Zhuang Yan