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May 3, 2011

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Have a blast and love the bears

A big black moon bear raises its paw and makes the rockers' "horn" salute in posters promoting the three-day Midi outdoor rock festival that comes to town on Friday, featuring rockers from around the world.

Animal rights activists will be on hand to highlight the plight of endangered moon bears that are cruelly farmed in Asia in cramped cages and "milked" for their gall bladder bile that is widely used in medicine.

The bears, among the world's gentlest, are named after the white or golden "moon" shape on their chests. A "Love the Bears" campaign is part of the festival.

The 14th Midi Festival, one of the world's best-known international outdoor rock festivals, makes its first-ever appearance in Shanghai from Friday through Sunday at Century Park in the Pudong New Area. The show opened in Beijing last weekend.

The festival will feature 24 rock performances on the Tang Stage and 24 DJ shows on the Antidote Stage in the park. Chinese bands include Miserable Faith, Cold Fairyland and Dengel, presenting their latest works.

International musicians include Mongol800 (Japan), GOOD 4 NOTHING (Japan), Mya Audrey (Switzerland), Kartsy (Finland), Moon Cake (Finland), Hibria (Brazil), Your Favorite Enemies (Canada) and Ming's Pretty Heroes (The Netherlands).

The highlight will be a two-hour performance by the legendary American hard rock band Mr Big on Friday night. Many Chinese rockers grew up listening to them.

"This will be the first time to see a complete show and I'm so excited," says Chen Lei of Chinese band Tang Dynasty, whose earliest memory about Mr Big was a cassette that he copied from a friend in primary school. "I was so amazed by the gorgeous guitar and bass and learned a lot from practicing their material."

"It was a great party last year (in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province), in spite of the rain and muddy road," says Chen. "I will definitely be there and get high."

The Midi Festival will also feature Bud Rocks Campus Band Competition open to any band on the spot that plays original music. The festival also will feature a flea market and games, such as baseball toss.

"Free and open-minded culture has been Midi's hallmark throughout the years," says Maggie Wang, media director for the festival. "That wasn't the original intention, but open-mindedness gradually became the dominant culture, thanks to all the participants."

The Midi Flea Market originally started as a place for students to trade their CD; today it has grown into a large market where people can exchange anything, such as crafts, clothing and badges.

"It is a completely free market that allows any kind of exchanges as long as the basic rules are followed," says Wang, "and this makes it one of the most popular parts of the festival.

Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) joins the music festival for the first time this year to promote its "Love the Bears" campaign. The festival is giving animal rights activists the stage to raise awareness of the bear-farming issues around Asia, including China. Extracting bile from living bears is painful for the animals that live in agony.

Iron jackets, shackles and small cages for big bears will be displayed at the festival to raise awareness of the issue. Some rock stars will wear the confining jackets and shackles and contort themselves to fit into the bear cages.

Funds collected from donations and charity sales at the festival will be donated to AAF to help save more bears. Many times, activists try to buy the bears from farmers, give them medical care and set them free in sanctuaries.

Date: May 6-8, 1-9:30pm

Venue: Century Park, 1001 Jinxiu Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 150 yuan for May 6; 80 yuan for May 7-8; 200 yuan for a three-day package

Tel: 962-388, 400-610-3721


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