Getting in on the act

A new kind of reality show that dispenses with judges and focuses on indie acts is providing the soundtrack of the summer, Chen Nan reports.

When Kong Yichan and his childhood friend Wei Wei decided to form a band in middle school, they aspired to release an album and launch a nationwide tour. For the two young men, who were born and raised in Liuzhou city, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, it seemed like an ambitious, if not distant, dream.

But it didn’t take long for them to realize their goal with the release of their self-titled debut album, Life Journey, in 2008.

Now, with nine albums under their belt, lead vocalist Kong, keyboardist Wei, guitarist Huang Zijun and drummer Xu Biao, Life Journey is one of the country’s most-watched bands.

They shared their story while making their first appearance on the reality show The Big Band, which was produced by iQiyi and premiered on the streaming platform on Saturday.

The first number they performed on the show was The Lost Song from their 2015 album, 10 Day’s-a release that explores memories of their hometown and which was dedicated to deceased family members and friends.

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“Our music documents our own lives. The band members enjoy different music styles and we all contribute to songwriting,” says 35-year-old Kong.

“This is a great time for indie rock bands to develop in the country, since the fans are curious and hungry for new music.”

The aim of the reality show, which features 31 indie bands chosen from over 1,000 acts nationwide, was to bring underground culture out into the limelight.

“We decided to join the show because of its name, Yue Dui De Xia Tian (Summer of Bands),” says Kong, who set up a music studio with his fellow band members in 2014. “We’ve written many songs about summer, so we want to introduce ourselves with these tunes.”

The reality show also invited several celebrities to help choose the five finalists for the show, including veteran music producer and songwriter, Zhang Yadong, vocalist and singer-songwriter, Wu Tsing-fong, and songwriter, Gao Xiaosong.

“These celebrities are not judges, which makes this reality show very different from other ones. You cannot judge a band and their music. These guys are music fans, just like the audience, who make their own choices about the bands they listen to,” says Ma Dong, veteran TV producer and host, whose company Beijing MEWE Media Co Ltd jointly produces the show.

Ma says that the young staff members in his company, many of whom are young women, regularly attend music festivals together.

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