The Metallica [sic], Nightwish, Linkin Park, G N' R, The Rolling Stones, and Ozzy will headline the 2015 Zhangbei Music Festival, July 18-20. Or more likely, they won't.
In fairness, it's not impossible that these bands are available and could play at festival in a northern China grassland. It's just not probable. The Zhangbei Music Festival's official website has absolutely no information about a 2015 event – at this point we couldn't even say it's happening, nevermind confirm who might be playing. Besides, who the hell would put Nightwish on before Linkin Park?
Local rock scene observer and occasional participant Badr Benjelloun, who tipped the Beijinger to the supposed line-up, called the list "the definition of wishful thinking."
The obvious giveaway, beyond the maybe-at-Live-Aid list of artists, is the dates. July 18-20 were 2014's dates, and as those would run Saturday through Monday, which even in China is not an optimal schedule for a large outdoor music festival. It also seems to be a while since Metallica felt the need to be The Metallica, and Ozzy Osbourne tends to play under his full name, even when he's playing at his eponymous Ozzfest.
However, while the line-up is almost certainly not authentic, it does raise some questions about what is China's largest annual dedicated music festival – an event that manages to attract over 300,000 fans despite having only one real sponsor: Red Bull (the Qingdao Beer Festival attracts more people, but is longer and is obviously dedicated to beer, not music).
Organized by Sun Media Group, close to the proposed Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics site of Zhangjiakou, in 2014 the biggest international name that appeared at the festival was Brazilian metal giants Sepultura. A big name, for sure, but given the size of the festival, actually it seems like an appearance by a name like The Metallica or Linkin Park isn't ridiculous. Although most attendees show up for the party atmosphere and to cool off for three days in the middle of the Beijing summer, they certainly don't need to drive five hours (trust me; it's a hard, five-hour drive) to hear Xu Wei or Tang Dynasty, both of whom headlined nights in 2014.
And as far as a May announcement of the full band list for Zhangbei is concerned, that might be the biggest falsehood of all. In 2014, Sepultura as headliner was announced just over a week before the shows. Dates for this year's festival should be July 17-19, if the traditional mid-July weekend holds. Until then, keeping your camping gear at the ready.
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