Following a year of Covid-induced hiatus, Chengdu’s favourite outdoor music festival Chun You returns for its eighth edition, 17-18 April 2021!
Since arriving in Chengdu several months after the birth of the first Chun You, the festival has become engrained in my heart. Chun You offers the grassroots vibes and sense of belonging we live for as music lovers and human beings. Live music, great people, created by the community for the community. No frills, no commercials, no bullshit. And hot pot on the grass. Nishaode, san.
A grassroots initiative hosted and organized by the unshakable Morning早上好 crew, the festival was originally spawned following their previous efforts as part of collaborative independent festival Cookin’ Chengdu, where the festival concept was brought home to the yard of the old Morning Bar in 三圣乡 in the spring of 2013. Kiwese has previously covered the background of Chun You and trials and tribulations of the Morning Bar pon di blog, check it.
Chun You returns for its eighth season next weekend, 17-18 April 2021, returning to the far-out Heilongtan lakeside location of the last edition in 2019, a sprawling field of grassy knolls wide open space south of Chengdu, on the way to Leshan. Last year’s cancellation was devastating but inevitable. Last April, clubs and bars had reopened across Chengdu, but the prospect of running what is now a mid-large scale outdoor festival remained dubious. This year, with essentially no cases of Covid in the country, Chun You is back.
Fingers crossed for good weather – the 2019 festival was a blast – quite literally – where a freak rainstorm hit the Friday night before the festival officially opened, and we awoke to find the beautiful bamboo structures of the Main Stage churned into a destroyed heap of sticks. The devastating vision of a five-metre long bamboo pole pierced through the heart of an LED screen will stay with me forever.
In true Morning style, the team managed to clear the debris, order a new steel stage and re-install everything on the spot, shuffling bands around to fit on an adjusted schedule. Jah Wah Zoo played that night at 1am to a joyous and resilient crowd, most of whom never saw the original bamboo stage design, a lazer-lit sea of jellybean-coloured rainjackets skanking in the mud. The mixers at the Electronic Stage and Imagination Stage drowned, with Mao Mao driving the two-hour journey back to Chengdu to get another one. The psytrance campers toddled over the banks to seek refuge at the Electronic Stage. The rain was followed by two days of scorching sun.
Needless to say, we got absolutely cooked.
This year, we are going full turbo mode. With over 80 performers across four stages, and several thousand punters expected across both days, this Chun You is set to be the biggest yet. The campsite has been expanded to accommodate the influx of punters coming in from out of town – as China’s continued border lockdown means fans and artists are traveling across the country more frequently than ever before, with airlines and travel companies competing with all sorts of domestic airline deals.
The line-up is classic Chun You. While closed borders have meant strife for promoters and event organizers worldwide who rely on the clout of international artists to pull crowds, Chun You is keeping it local, as per usual. The last international artist I remember playing at Chun You was the lovely Pascal Pinon in 2016, the same year NU SPACE opened. When you didn’t need a permit to perform as an international artist, ahh the good old days…
Anyway, looking forward, Chun You next weekend is set to go off. Main Stage aka Chun You Stage will feature local heavyweights STOLEN, freed Yunnan reggae heroes KAWA, Xinjiang-bred rap group INBLOOD, throat-singing soothsayers Horse Radio, Wuhan math rockers Chinese Football, Beijing indie heart throbs Wasted Laika, as well as many more local names, including The Hormones, who reforged their line-up last year, and Fake Swing, an electronic group, who formerly founded The Hormones. Acoustic folk will start from 8am, a nice addition to the program that builds on last year’s midday start, accommodating for the early birds, and campers straggling back to their tents from the Electronic Stage.
The Electronic Stage has come a long way since the outback village set-up from Morning House, the haggard speakers from the old Xiong Mao clamped to the concrete wall of a back room shack. This year, a Funktion-One Soundsystem will be landing in the Chun You field, which incredibly enough seems to be becoming the new standard for Chengdu club sound (.TAG just swapped from their Martin Audio last December, Guanxi has one at their club in Wangfujing). There is an ongoing joke in Chengdu that everyone is a DJ now. The line-up here is a list of local favourites bursting at the seams for a non-stop 42h marathon, all from Chengdu, save for guests Sunyoung from Echo Bay in Chongqing, Shanghai-based Punx of Prajnasonic, and the masterful sunrise selector and producer Knopha, coming through from Xiamen. cdcr.live (an online radio station that Kiwese co-founded in Chengdu) will be livestreaming all the action from the Electronic Stage, while Kaishandao, my electronic live project, will perform on the first night at 1am.
The Morning Stage gives a nod to the former incarnations of Morning Bar (R.I.P), an intimate wee stage with a bar attached to the back. The clubs have come together to nominate their top talents – with representatives from CUE, AXIS, .TAG, Funky Town and Guanxi, as well alumni from as music studio Bianli Music.
Psytrance, dub, downtempo and more experimental forms of electronic music find their home at the Imagination Stage, with anticipated sets from China’s first reggae soundsystem Jiang Liang Sound, Cvalda’s new dub group Verbal Agreement, Shanghai sis ChaCha coming through with her FadedGhost alias, livecoding from tanzman and much more.
Chun You 2021 Full Program:
MAIN STAGE 春游舞台
15:00—15:40 派对间谍 Party Spy
16:00—16:40 丢莱卡 Wasted Laika
17:00—17:40 街娃 Gaiwaer
21:00—21:40 Chinese Football
22:00—22:40 荷尔蒙小姐 The Hormones
23:00—END STOLEN 秘密行动
16:00—16:40 假斯文 Fake Swing
20:00—20:40 浪旅 Long Travel
21:00—21:40 走马电台 Horse Radio
22:00—22:40 Jah Wah Zoo
ELECTRONIC STAGE 电子舞台
4.17—4.19 (42h Non-Stop)
17:00—19:00 Luna Li
01:00—02:00 Kaishandao (Live)
02:00—03:00 Punx (Live)
10:00—11:00 CDCR time
21:00—23:00 DJ Blue
01:00—03:00 Sunny W
MORNING STAGE 早上好舞台
4.17 (Day 1)
22:30—00:00 Harry Ho
4.18 (Day 2)
00:30—02:00 Ni Bing
IMAGINATION STAGE 想象力舞台
4.17 (Day 1)
19:00—20:30 DJ ON
20:30—21:10 TAIGA (Live)
22:30—23:30 口头协议 Verbal Agreement
00:00—01:15 蒋亮的声音系统 Jiang Liang Sound
4.18 (Day 2)
18:00—18:40 FadedGhost aka Cha Cha
21:40—22:20 Mr V
Presented by Morning早上好
Poster by Momo / Design by Mantou
cdcr.live (Chengdu Community Radio) will be livestreaming from the Electronic Stage all weekend. Tune in from [ 4.17 GMT 0700 — 04.19 GMT 0000 ] at http://cdcr.live.
For more information about Chun You 2021, check out the Morning早上好 WeChat Official Account. See you there!