The incongruity of security agents facilitating the sale of cannabis-themed merchandise was not lost on the festival’s organizer, Zhang Fan.
“The government used to see rock fans as something akin to a devastating flood or an invasion of savage beasts,” said Mr. Zhang, a handful of whose events have been canceled by skittish bureaucrats since he pioneered the Chinese music festival in 2000. “Now we’re all part of the nation’s quest for a harmonious society.”
He is not complaining, nor are the dozens of malnourished musicians who finally have a way to monetize their craft — although no one is getting rich yet.
The shift in official sentiment — and among state-backed companies paying to have their logos splashed across the stage — has led to an explosion of festivals across China. In 2008, there were five multiday concerts, nearly all in Beijing. This year there have already been more than 60, from the northern grasslands of Inner Mongolia to the southern highlands of Yunnan Province.