Rock in Rio festival puts the spotlight on Asia
Lucrecia Franco

One of the world's largest music festivals, Rock in Rio, is back in the city where it was born: Rio de Janeiro.  It is the 19th edition of the  musical smorgasbord that started in 1985. This year, it's introducing for the first time ever — a slice of Asia.

With spectacular fireworks, multiple stages and a riot of screaming rockers, the festival kicked off Friday (27 Sept.) and will run until Sunday, October 6. More than a festival, Rock in Rio is a playground for revelers and music lovers.

The star-studded musical line-up this year, includes big names such as British entertainment veteran, Seal, who opened the festival, Drake, Bon Jovi and the Red-Hot Chili Peppers, among 670 other local and international artists

But perhaps the biggest novelty is the Rock Street area, a space within the mega-event that is shining the spotlight on Asia, with architectural references and musicians from China, India and Japan.

The impressive Beijing-based heavy metal band Nine Treasures, for example, made their Latin American live debut with a novel blend of musicality, featuring unique instruments and a fusion of styles:  

"Our music is mixed with heavy metal music and inner Mongolian traditional music. For us, it's like a dream coming true," said Ashkan, as the Nine Treasures bandleader is known.

The band uses typical Mongolian acoustic instruments and electric guitars, with costumes setting the tone. Their upbeat sound had the crowd bobbing their heads and clapping.

"This is incredible, marvelous, so different from what we see in Brazil, but what I enjoyed the most is having a taste of other cultures," said Maria Eduarda Bastos, one of the show's attendees. 

The festival is taking place at the former Rio 2016 Olympic park that was converted into a 385,000 square-meter arena.

Tickets were sold out months ago in April, at a cost of around 140 U.S. dollars for each of  the seven days of the festival, but concert goers said it was worth it.

The proof: 700 hundred thousand in attendance.

"It is more than the value, it is a kind of experience, sound and music that expands your soul. So, it is not because of the money, It is because of the experience." said Antonio Santos who flew from the northern state of Bahia to take part in the event for the fifth time.

The festival has held seven editions in Rio, eight in Lisbon, three in Madrid and one in Las Vegas.

Organizers not only offer a lineup of mega-stars but also showcase a different part of the world with each successive edition. And this time it was colorful and exotic Asia, because, they say, Rock in Rio is now a global business.