Exhibition reviews rock music history - China - Kunming 
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Exhibition reviews rock music history

By : China Daily | Published: 2014-November-10

A visitor watches the items on display at Serve the Rock show in Beijing. [China Daily]

[InKunming--China]  The retrospective seeks to tell the story of the rise of indie bands in China. Chen Nan reports.

Serve the Rock, billed as the first major exhibition to review the history of rock music across the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, opened on Oct 25 at Asian Art Works gallery in Beijing's 798 Art Zone.

The exhibition, curated by Huang Liaoyuan from Beijing, Chang Yiping from Taiwan and Flora Kwong Man-wai from Hong Kong, looks at the rock scene in the regions over the past three decades.

The show includes personal items and collections, that have never before been publicly displayed, says Liang Long, the lead vocalist and songwriter of indie rock band Second Hand Rose, who initiated the idea of holding such a rock retrospective earlier this year.

Among the items on display are a guitar used by Cui Jian, known as the "godfather" of Chinese rock music, and his concert posters from the early 1990s; Second Hand Rose's stage costumes from its 2013 Beijing concert; and videos and photos from the first Hohaiyan Rock Festival in 2000 and the 1994 Chinese Rock Power concert held at the Hong Kong Arena. The 1994 concert stunned Hong Kong audiences and created a momentum for the wave of rock that then washed over the mainland.

"To have progress, we should look at the past and learn from it first," says Liang, 36, who recently returned from his band's first US tour.

He says that unlike today's young music lovers, who have wide access to information via the Internet, most rock musicians on the Chinese mainland during the 1980s and '90s were introduced to rock music via cassette tapes and CDs smuggled in from the West.

"I hope that the exhibition will help remind today's young audiences of what the established rockers achieved and how much they went through while pursuing their rock dreams," Liang says.

When he had the idea for such a show, Liang first approached Huang, who has managed Second Hand Rose since 2001 and is also a veteran music critic and contemporary artist.

Huang contributed items from his personal collection amassed over 30 years, such as handwritten letters seeking permission from the government to hold live concerts, and a red flag with all the participants' signatures from the first Helanshan Mountain Rock Music Festival.

Huang started the festival in 2004 in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region. It was the first outdoor music festival on the Chinese mainland that both made a profit and attracted more than 200,000 audience members for the three-day event.

"From a music festival ticket to a staff card, I kept all the items as a mementoes that witnessed rock music's development in the country," says Huang, 49, who now works as a consultant for Modernsky Records, the largest indie label on the mainland, which publishes Second Hand Rose.

"Without much information, the old generation of Chinese rock musicians accomplished their own styles with their pure passion for rock 'n' roll," Huang adds. "They used rock music, a Western music genre, to tell Chinese stories, which deserves respect from the young generation."

As fellow curators, Huang invited Chang from Taiwan and Kwong from Hong Kong, two important figures who have witnessed and participated in the development of rock music in those regions.

Kwong, who launched the Hong Kong-based record label Wow Music in 2007, contributed the songwriting manuscript of Hong Kong rock band Beyond, and a pair of drumsticks used by legendary drummer, Donald James Ashley, who passed away on Oct 19, at the age of 58.

Chang, 46, who is better known as Chang43, founded Taiwan's indie music label, Taiwan Colors Music, in 1998. He also started the annual Taiwan rock music festival, the Hohaiyan Rock Festival, in 2000, which has become one of Taiwan's biggest celebrations of indie music and offered a platform to local indie bands to display their talents, including the bands Mayday and Sodagreen.

Of the items on display, Chang considers an entry permit for Cui to visit Taiwan in 2007 as the most important one. That year Chang had invited Cui to perform at the Hohaiyan festival.

"I have been watching the Chinese mainland's rock scene since the early 1990s and it had been a longtime wish to bring my idol, Cui Jian, to the festival," he says.

That wish was not fulfilled until 2007. "When I received his entry permit, I almost cried, so I want to share that with the audience of the exhibition," Chang says.

In the past few years, Chang has also toured the Hohaiyan festival to Hong Kong and invited rock musicians and bands from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan to share the stage.

"The rock music scene of the Chinese mainland in the 1990s and early 2000s really surprised me," Chang says. "But as more and more music festivals were held every year around the country, bands were busy touring but rarely come up with new work, which is a major problem for the current rock scene."

Compared with the Chinese mainland, the indie rock scene in Taiwan has experienced a rebirth, he says.

"More and more commercial opportunities are offered for bands now, for example, variety shows and galas like to invite bands to perform live music. Brands are more open to sponsor indie culture," Chang says. "People need to know the past, support the scene and really see what it is all about."

IF YOU GO

10:30 am to 7 pm, through Dec 13. Asian Art Works, D-09-2, 798 Art Zone, No 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu (Road), Beijing.

Tel: 010-5762-6338.

IN THE KNOW

Government workers in Beijing are enjoying the sixday holiday, during which time authorities have encouraged residents to travel outside the city to ensure the best conditions for the APEC meetings from Nov 5 to 11.

China Daily has compiled useful information for people who plan to get out of town, as well as need-to-know information for those in town.

Traffic control

Several areas in the capital will be subject to temporary traffic control.

Traffic will be controlled from the Pan-Yanxi Lake area from midnight to 6 am through Nov 11. This includes the area between Yanxi Lake Road and Baiyashanzhuang Bridge, Yanxi Lake Road and South Yanxi Lake Road. Parking on these roads is forbidden from 6 am to midnight. Vehicles can circumvent affected areas via Yanxi Lake Road North.

Datun and North National Stadium roads will also be controlled until Nov 11.

From Monday until APEC ends, controls will be set up on East and West Beichen roads; South Kehui Road; North Datun Road; the underground tunnels of Datun and Huizhong roads; the main and side roads of the North Fourth Ring Road; and Aoti Central and Minzu Park roads.

Controls were set up on Nov 7 and will continue to Nov 12 on the Airport Expressway, East Second Ring Road, and Chang'an and Jianguomenwai avenues.

Subway

The Olympic Green and Olympic Sports Center subway stations on Line 8 will remain closed until Monday, and Beitucheng Station on lines 8 and 10 will be closed from midnight on Monday. Trains won't stop at these three stations.

License plates

Since Nov 3, cars are only allowed to drive on alternating days depending on whether their license plates are even or odd numbers. Violators will be fined 100 yuan ($16.30)

Vehicles from outside Beijing are also subject to the restriction.

Freight vehicles, low-speed trucks, three-wheeled automobiles, tractors, motorcycles, special motor vehicles and passenger-service vehicles that fail to meet national emission standards are banned within the Six Ring Road and Huairou district's downtown through Nov 12.

Rail

Beijing will have special trains to transport private vehicles to Shaanxi, Hubei, Zhejiang, Sichuan, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. Residents can make phone reservations and visit the office at No 130 South Fourth Ring Middle Road in Fengtai district to arrange the service.

Tourist attractions

The Bird's Nest (National Stadium) and Water Cube (National Aquatics Center) will be closed to the public during meetings. The Olympic Forest Park's southern section will be closed on Monday.

Museums and libraries

The Palace Museum, National Museum of China, Capital Museum, Capital Library of China and Beijing Museum of Natural History will operate as usual.

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