Gegentala Festival 2005

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Gegentala Inner Mongolia Festival

General Information

Place: Gegentala Grassland, Inner Mongolia

Time: July 29-31, 2005, Friday through Sunday

Tix: Single Day: RMB 160. Three Day: RMB 280.

Organisator: Cui Jian

Bands (incl.)


Gegentala Festival, July 2005, photo (c) Robot Adam of
Gegentala Festival, July 2005, photo (c) Robot Adam of
Gegentala Festival, July 2005, photo (c) Wangzebin

Taken from

Gegentala from a distance

Submitted by Adam on Thu, 2005-10-13 19:52.

While some people might claim that posting an article about a rock festival that occurred two months prior is a bit sloppy, I eschew such thoughts. Better late than never.

Wu Nan and I arrived in Hohhot early morning, hopped on to the bus to Wulanhua, and after fighting the dust and crowds of touts ready to grab the next backpackers, we were finally on the last leg of the first leg of our trip. Destination: the Gegentala grasslands, and the Gegentala Rock and Roll Festival.

We arrived before most of the crowds. The stage was massive, and it loomed over the grasslands. The crew had brought it in on massive flatbed trucks from Worker's Stadium in Beijing; that is not a short or easy trip. We assumed, wrongly, as it turned out, that the turnout would be quite large. At a restaurant in Wulanhua we learned the town was told to expect up to eighty thousand visitors. At Friday's soundcheck, however, there were far more police and army than onlookers.

But it was still early, so there was nothing to worry about. We joined the expanding collection of campers outside the concert grounds near a pond. There was plenty of room, and the weather was fine. The sun was shining, and there was a nice breeze; perfect concert weather.

Back at the stage the opening act was setting up: Che Lun, from Mongolia. Three guys with long hair, one bald guy. I knew what this meant: long solos. Yep, it was a metal band. Luckily they didn't stay fully in to hair-metal territory; the singer made excellent use of throat singing to the crowd's delight. The best part of the set was when the guitarist dropped his guitar for a while and switched to the Morinkhuur, the Mongolian horse-head fiddle.

Next up was Lan Ye, from Inner Mongolia, demonstrating what would become the recurring theme of the festival: Mongolians love hair metal, Inner Mongolians love Nü-metal. In all fairness, while Inner Mongolian rap metal sounds pretty much the same as other rap metal, the Mongolian language makes it a little more badass. Already my camera was useless; winds had picked up, and I couldn't hold the little point-n-clicker steady to save my life.

Chengdu rockers Ashura followed, trying to cram every style of 90s rock into a single set. My notes say, "We love Chengdu, we love Linkin Park. I think they like MTV more." I apologize for being so mean. They weren't bad, actually, and the crowd dug them quite a bit.

Some noise rockers from Guizhou started setting up next, but the wind was picking up much more quickly. The crew hurriedly pulled down the massive speakers, and Wu Nan and I hurried back to the tent to make sure it hadn't blown away. We found some loose rocks to secure it, but others weren't so lucky; some poorly constructed tents looked ready to break apart at any moment.

We made it back just in time to see the last half of the last song. I thought it was interesting enough, but Jon remarked, "I like the idea, but not so much the execution."

The rain was coming in sideways now; I was worried that they would have to shut down just halfway through the night. They pulled some of the larger hanging lights off, and set up some coverings over the monitors. I have to admit—they were as prepared as they could be. Cold Fairyland did a great job, I think. They played pretty much the same set as their last Beijing show at Nameless Highland, including a couple long pipa breaks. The local crowd didn't seem to know what to make of them, but they liked the pipa as much as I did. Plus, I heard a couple of them talking about Shanghai girls in hushed tones.

The big shock of the night was Glorious Pharmacy. How would Xiao He's strange delivery be received? Quite well, it turns out; his improvisations on grassland themes got an incredible response. His band was in fine form that night, especially the accordion player. Who knew the accordion was so universal?

Brain Failure is Brain Failure. No surprises, but no one wanted surprises. High energy.

The rain picked up as some Mongolians with teased hair started their set. Wu Nan and I had no more energy or desire to go through a set of cock rock, so we put our heads down and walked through the wet grass and dirt towards the tent.

The storm was just starting, really.