To cap off what is colloquially termed the ‘Golden Week’ in China, which is a week-long public holiday to celebrate China’s National Day on 1 October, Shanghai played host to the second edition of the Storm Electronic Music Festival, which made its first appearance in 2013 last year. Dance music is still not the immediately ‘go-to’ music genre in China and is probably considered to be a slowly emerging music genre when compared to Europe, North America, or even China’s Southeast Asian neighbors such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that the biggest names agreed to fly over to this part of the world to perform when the official line-up was announced, which included Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Kaskade, Avicii, Afrojack, Knife Party, Cazzette, Krewella, Morgan Page, Emma Hewitt and a few more (although, Avicii and Knife Party were forced to pull out in the end due to illness).
Heading into Storm Festival, frankly speaking, the expectations were low. Friends who attended last year’s Storm Festival and also the Great Wall Festival in Beijing a few months ago expressed similar comments such as mediocre stage productions, below average attendance rate, and below par crowd reactions. The concept of ‘EDM festivals’ is still relatively new to China and much was still to be learned from the Ultras and the EDCs in terms of visuals and ‘fantasy’ creation. However, as soon as I stepped foot into the festival grounds (the festival was held in a massive park named Xu Hui Binjiang Green Space), I quickly realized that A2Live, the Chinese promoters who helped put together Storm Festival this year, came a very long way in learning from their overseas counterparts. It was an understatement to say our crew was absolutely blown away by the set-up and production scale of the stages. The multiple layered oval structures of the Main Stage reminded me of the insane vortex stage design at Ultra Miami this year and coupled with the curled silver extensions branching up and outwards, the Main Stage radiated this extremely futuristic feel and looked like it came straight out of a science fiction movie. One thing for sure – this is certainly Asian production at its best.
Day one was scheduled with acts such as Shermanology, Krewella, Dash Berlin, Afrojack and the biggest name of the day, Axwell ^ Ingrosso. Shermanology and Krewella were great acts in warming up the crowd and getting them involved with tons of live singing, fans went crazy singing along to hits such as “Alive” and “Live For The Night”. As the sun began to set after Krewella’s performance, Dash Berlin provided an hour plus of pure euphoria, playing trancey versions of dance anthems such as “City of Dreams” and “If I Lose Myself”, before closing with his own classics. Safe to say, Dash Berlin never disappoints. The day ended with an energetic performance by Axwell ^ Ingrosso, and they played plenty of their new productions as well as their classic hits which had the dance floor rocking. A few memorable moments of the night were when Axwell pulled off an interesting and innovative live mashup of “Tokyo By Night” and “I Am”, while Sebastian Ingrosso teased and played around with “One More Time” to the crowd’s liking.
It was a very satisfying end to the first day with probably just one small complaint with regards to the water queue. With better experience, the organizers could perhaps allocate more staff to serve water and drinks next year because the water queues were extremely long with average waiting time of over half an hour. Fortunately, the sun was not blazing in Shanghai and the cool breeze in the evening time meant that sweating and dehydration did not pose as big threats to the attendees.
Building on the success of day one, day two was scheduled with many more household names, with Morgan Page kicking off real action on the Main Stage. Morgan Page delivered a diverse set with a good blend of house and progression. What was to follow Morgan Page turned out to be arguably the best set of the entire Storm Festival. The talented Swedish duo, Cazzette, took the stage after Morgan Page and started their set with a ‘Sleepless’ intro edit of ‘Arms Around Me’. From then on, they simply ‘killed it’ for the next hour plus. The set had everything in it – Deep, House, Grooves, Progressive and even some Hip-Hop to make sure all genres were interestingly covered. It was the perfect set for the crowd as the sun gradually set and the evening breeze began to pick up. Fittingly, the legendary Kaskade followed Cazzette’s act and played us plenty of his his unique vocal edits of current massive progressive and electro tunes. As multi-colored laser beams continued to shoot out in all directions, Kaskade’s set reached its climax when he closed out his performance with the beloved ‘Lionhearted’.
Overall, what was so impressive about Storm Festival? Well, again, the production was just phenomenal given that this year was only its second edition. A2Live absolutely blew the crowd away and pushed music festivals in China up another notch. Moreover, another thing that we often take for granted in music festivals is the general level of hygiene. Frankly speaking, out of the many festivals that our crew has been to, Storm Festival is right up there at the top as professional ground staff were able to maintain general hygiene within the festival grounds at the highest order at most times. Dare to say, with a few more years of experience in the bag, and when DJs start realizing how big the ‘EDM’ market has become in China and the festival line-ups slowly become bigger and bigger, I can see organizers in China putting together shows and festivals that will potentially challenge the top and the very best music festivals in the years to come. If you have not attended music festivals in China, I would strongly recommend you fly over sometime during the next couple of years to witness for yourself as I am sure there can only be further improvements down the road. Lastly, A2Live, thank you for turning Shanghai into a stand-out city for hosting music festivals with this year’s edition of Storm and giving music lovers in China such a fun and memorable experience!
Note: This entire article is written from the point-of-view of the writer, and some of the sentiments felt are that of the writer and the writer alone.
(Photo Credit to: Kaskade and Emma Hewitt’s Facebook pages)
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