This weekend Finnish top-selling goth-metal band HIM were due to play a show in Shanghai before headlining an open-air music festival in Beijing.
China’s growing popular music market has become something of a honeypot for foreign artists, and over 70 Finnish performers have now toured the country.
Yet at the peak of HIM’s popularity in 2005, when the band’s fifth album went gold in the US – a first for a Finnish outfit – only a few western bands went to perform in China. The Chinese authorities took a dim view of music festivals, denouncing rock music as depraved and politically dubious.
Nowadays, though dozens of Chinese and foreign bands tour the country’s festival circuit, as previous political restrictions have started giving way to commercialism.
HIM’s tour began on May 1st in Shanghai, with high expectations for the group’s first ever China show. But not everything went quite according to plan.
”Communicating with people is tough here for a vegetarian and musician,” HIM frontman Ville Valo told Yle. ”I’ve got no idea what I’m being given on my plate, and it’s impossible finding out how short or long our gigs are supposed to be,” he said. ”In Shanghai, they pulled the plug on us. We were meant to play for an hour, but they cut off the power after just 25 minutes and shooed us offstage,” the singer complained.
The following day, though, the band set off for Beijing’s Strawberry festival with the hope that things would get better. They did not.
A sandstorm blew into the city from the deserts of Mongolia, with gusts so powerful they lifted the roof off the festival stage. The entire gig was cancelled for safety reasons.
Forced to seek shelter in their tour bus, the band reflected on their less-than-emphatic Chinese success. ”Thousands of miles just to play five songs for 25 minutes. Thank God the hotel’s got a bar,” Valo said.