Rocking the World Awake From China Waterville
Three Chinese rock bands will be travelling all the way from Beijing to Waterville this Thursday, November 19. Carsick Cars, P.K. 14 and Xiao He, all well known in Beijing's underground scene, will be performing at "Rocking the World Awake from China to Waterville" in Page Commons. The concert is co-sponsored by the Iraqi Refugee Awareness Movement (IRAM), the Department of East Asian Studies and the Asian Cultural Society. In addition to bringing great music to the Hill, a major goal of the event is to collect donations for Iraqi refugees living in Maine.
"Though it was an unusual alliance in some respects, we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate on something big," Daniel Franklin '10, co-chair of IRAM and coordinator of event planning, said. "Ever since, we have been working feverishly to pave the way for three bands, largely representative of a vibrant and growing youth culture and music scene in Beijing, to be able to take part in a concert that is simultaneously a celebration of music and an event that sheds light on an important humanitarian issue."
The three bands are coming to Colby as part of a three week tour throughout the U.S. This will be the first time they have performed in America. Although they are best known among their fans in China, they have quickly become popular in the international community.
"The artists...represent a fresh, independent voice in a country renowned for creative conformity and saccharine Cantopop," Maybe Mars, the bands' production company, said in a press release. "For now, China remains in a tense state between the socialist idealism of old and a drive for wealth spurred by free-market reforms. These contradictions tear at the country's social fabric, while simultaneously provoking and inspiring younger generations to greater artistic heights, especially in the realm of music."
Each of the bands has something unique to offer the audience. Carsick Cars has one of China's most talented guitarists, Shou Wang, while Xiao He practices "free folk," a blend of traditional folk and improvised music. P.K. 14 is known for an eclectic mix with lyrics that often focus on the urban youth of China. Carsick Cars has performed alongside Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Ex Models and These Are Powers at a number of music festivals and concerts abroad.
They may have come from the underground scene, but spectators around the world have certainly taken notice of the Maybe Mars bands, garnering attention from major US publications.
Last year, Time Magazine ranked P.K. 14 as one of Asia's best new bands.
In a report earlier this year, Janis Foo, of The Wall Street Journal wrote, "D-22 [a music club featuring bands on the Maybe Mars label] is now the center of new music in Beijing. It is also home to the city's expanding counterculture - a movement powered by local students hungry to escape the bland diet and commercialism of Mandarin pop."
Although admission to the concert is free, donations will be collected to assist Iraqi refugees who are currently living in Maine. Donations can be in the form of non-perishable food or clothing in good condition. Warm clothing is particularly needed as the winter months approach.
"This is the third year that IRAM has endeavored to make a dent in the crisis afflicting well over four million Iraqi refugees," Franklin said. "Our movement to raise awareness has led us to focus on the problem at-large, while this latest manifestation of our work has led us to concentrate our attention on a group of Iraqi refugees now living right down the road in Portland, Maine, whom we have come to know and love...[demonstrations of generosity] mean that we can say our thanks and extend a hand of friendship to those courageous Iraqis who have lent us their aid abroad at great cost to their own families."
At present, 4.4 million Iraqis have been displaced by the Iraq War. Even if they are granted admission to the U.S., they face poverty and disillusionment upon their arrival.
"The problem now is so acute and local," Harry Davis '11, co-chair of IRAM, said. "Members of IRAM and the wider Colby community can make a tangible difference in these peoples' lives."
The concert will take place tomorrow (November 19) in Page Commons on from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Funding for the event was made possible by a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation for East and Southeast Asian studies.