The title of this post is misleading: no one got arrested. Quite the contrary, every security guard I saw tried not to smirk while watching the keyboardist on the left smash a perfectly good Apple flat screen computer.
I’m not going to try to categorize Chinese censorship or suggest that embracing this concert was some sort of government ploy to keep the young masses satisfied. It’s hard not to be curious though. In the end I’ve concluded the worst a bunch of indie, oversized glasses-embracing Chinese and foreigners could do would be to film a documentary that would be forbidden on the mainland anyway.
In other words, while the western alternative feel of 798 Art Zone in Beijing attracts a good number of freethinking artists, it is still far far away from even coming within sight of mainstream Chinese culture. To me, “The Creator’s Project” concert series, panels, and movie-screenings this past weekend were primarily targeted at every American and European living in a city that’s gaining acclaim but still facing an identity crisis. The event’s free concerts, programs, and alcohol weren’t provided out of kindness but by Intel and Vice Magazine’s desire to stamp their logo on a willing clean slate.
Save this one song, the Beijing band 新裤子 (“New Pants”) pictured above was actually surprisingly good. Dare I say significantly better than Major Lazer who followed. My favorite screening was Spike Jonze’s “I’m Here”- a 30 minute film you should be able to watch by going here: http://www.imheremovie.com/