Another week, another branded festival. Over the years local governments have really opened up to festivals seeing them as an opportunity to reposition lower-tier cities as cultural hubs. Our consistent fear has been that this is leading to oversupply, but lets see what this incarnation of GreenFest had on offer, given the major stakeholder was the Tuborg beer brand.
On September the 28h and 29th inside the lush gardens of Kunmings World Horticultural Expo Garden, Tuborgs two-day GreenFest Music Festival came to Yunnan for the first time. The event which was largely bankrolled by sponsorships from Carlsberg (for their Tuborg brand) and China Mobile, organized by Modern Sky and their local affiliate 500km, and supported by the Yunnan TV Station had all the usual frills including one main stage (GreenFest stage), a smaller second stage (Tuborg stage), food/bevy stands, a graffiti wall, face painting, and merch.
Pre-sale tickets for the festival were priced at 100 RMB for one day or 160RMB for a two-day pass. This increased to 120RMB/200RMB on the door. We wondered whether this might have been a bit too steep for the Yunnan kids, but over 20,000 tickets were sold, according to the organizers of the festival. Total attendance for the two days was estimated to stand around 28,000 the first day was a holiday for most people and so it saw the biggest attendance. We are always pretty skeptical about festival attendances. It was unlikely that a 6,000 strong audience was actually exceeded on either of the two days based on our eye-witness account.
The line-up for the festival was largely rock-based and centered on Chinas more underground bands, which makes sense from the perspective of a brand trying to establish a niche beer. Having just wrapped up the Tuborg Truck Tour, the brand was looking to concretize its positioning efforts and end with a bit of a bang.
Festival highlights from the GreenFest Stage on the first day included Black Head, who opened the day with a mission to rock — and following them the terrific Mr. Chelonian was as charismatic as ever. On the Tuborg Stage, TBOR from Xi an brought forth their edgy 80s rockabilly in tight fashion. DJ Maxi from Kunming closed Day One the way it should be done – with a thousand people dancing with candy in their heels. The event culminated in a set by headliner XTX the godfather of Chinese rock whos flamboyant star-power brought the festival to a tight close.
Although the concrete floors on site were unkind on the feet and sound bleed wasa consistent problem, the overall experience was positive. Festival sponsors didnt bombard the audience with advertising over-kill. The food and beer on tap were adequate and inexpensive and the bands were well selected. Some people were disappointed that there were no foreign acts on the bill though for the location, Modern Skys call to stick with a stable of local bands makes sense. The major sponsor Tuborg almost certainly intended it to be this way given their year-round focus on driving the beers presence in the lower-tiers through local artist showcases.
Renee Deng, Tuborgs Brand Manager, shared the company’s side of the story, saying:
With a music festival like this, although it is a commercial event, we really want to bond emotionally with the audiences…We are basically trying to do something fun and rock-related. The Kunming beer market is very competitive and Yunnan has its own cultural intricacies, so we are just trying to adjust to peoples needs down here.
This was the second GreenFest (after Yinchuan earlier this year) and they plan to have many more over the upcoming few years. Lets just hope this success leads to the development of something beyond a transient commercial push, and that GreenFest continues to grow into an established event with its own legs.
Big thanks to Hugh Bohane for submitting this.
To view Hughs pictures of the festival click here: https://www.lightstalkers.org/galleries/slideshow/35167