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Dong Dong Festival Guide 2014

The top five gigs to hit at this year's Dong Dong

Sun Glitters
Dong Dong - the 'mini but mighty' music festival and industry convention - is back this year with four action-packed days of gigs and events. Organized by Kaiguan Culture, a production and promotion agency based in Beijing, the two-year-old fest is aimed at introducing the Chinese rock and underground scene to international industry figures interested in exploiting the hell out of it (just kidding).

Though most of the convention events - i.e. workshops and panel talks - are limited to industry folks (unless of course you're willing to shell out 450RMB for a delegate's pass), we humble locals still get to benefit from the sweet, sweet showcases they'll be holding from Wednesday through Saturday. For more about the event itself, read our preview here. For our top picks for the festival's gigs, read on:

Wednesday 26 at Yugong Yishan
For its first big showcase, Dong Dong throws down a folk-heavy line-up with a dizzying range of traditions. Headlining are Zhang Weiwei & Guo Long, who play mellow, accordian-driven Chinese folk. Zhang Weiwei is best known as a former member of urban folk trailblazers Wild Children, and enjoys a status close to that of musicians like Su Yang or Xiao He. Another highlight is Tiloun, who hails from St Denis on the island of Réunion and plays 'Maloya', a kind of indigenous, percussion-based genre rooted in the folk music traditions of African and Malagasy slaves and Indian indentured workers. Rounding out the line-up are Beijing's own Djang San, who, along with his band, plays a unique blend of electronic and Chinese folk, and the Aupa Quartet from Spain, who perform a mix of jazz, funk, flamenco and more. Below is a video of Tiloun performing at the 2012 Hanggai Festival, courtesy of Live Beijing Music:

Thursday 27 at Yugong Yishan
Things get artsy at Dong Dong's second major showcase, which is headlined by Parisian trio Cheveu - a band that we'll call 'garage punk', but which transcends the strictures of that label to delve into weirder, even absurdist, territory. Their shows, which have been known to inspire riotous audience fervor, are shot through with an energy that borders on the anarchic, and into musical influences that range from noise rock to psych to new wave. Supporting are two up-and-coming Chinese bands, Changsha's Colourhunter, playing dreamy, dissonant synth rock and Gate to Otherside jamming out on psychedelic noise. Below, watch this Noisey video of Cheveu's live show:

Thursday 27 at Dada
Take things up a notch with a night of pre-weekend partying at Dada. Though the club will be hosting three great nights of electronic music, our top pick is the first night because of headliner Sun Glitters from Luxembourg, who makes ethereal, sun-drenched electronic music brimming with ambient soundscapes and pulsing beats. Accomanying Sun Glitter are similarly hypnotic local acts White+, who play shining electro-kraut, and FAR/∞ spinning out some minimalist techno. Another solid option for catching Sun Glitters is the Dong Dong closing party on Saturday 29 at Migas, which also features sets by DJ Oshi, Tiloun and DJ HERR. Below, check out Sun Glitters' song 'Tight':

Friday 28 at Yugong Yishan
Wuhan dance punks AV Okubo - who so rarely make it down to Beijing - are reason enough to check out this show. This past April, with the release of their second album Dynasty (which was produced by Gang of Four's Andy Gill), the band traded in the dark, synth-driven euphoria of its old music for a more lush, complex sound. Also playing are reincarnated cock rock trio Rustic and France's Colt Silvers, who play danceable indie pop that sounds like it was made by robots. Check out the video for their song 'As We Walk' below:

Saturday 29 at Yugong Yishan
If electronic and pop are more what you're after, then don't miss this line-up of visionary weirdos, starting with Shanghai duo AM444, whose electronic hip hop fuses the beats of Dutch producer Jay Soul with the warm, sultry vocals of frontwoman Chacha. Vocals are also a major highlight of Danish singer-songwriter CALLmeKAT, who deploys her velvety pipes in a series of soulful, dreamy pop numbers that braid together delicate nuance with retro charm. Last but not least is a woman who we can only assume is studying to be Bjork's understudy, Fifi Rong - a Chinese singer-songwriter who weaves unearthly trip hop and downtempo.
Below, listen to CALLmeKAT's creepy but enjoyable cover of Britney Spear's 'Toxic':

Dong Dong Festival is from Wednesday 26 to Saturday 29 at various venues. See event listings for gig and registration details.