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Thursday, March 26, 2009

CHINA Day One

March 15th - Arrive around 1pm - 2 hour train to Nanjing
Nanjing - Castle Bar - 6pm sound check / 9pm show
March 16th - Morning do a little sightseeing
Evening take the overnight train to Beijing
March 17th - Morning sightseeing - Forbidden City, Tiananmen
Square...etc..etc...
Beijing - Yugong Yishan - 6pm sound check / 9pm show
March 18th - Afternoon leave for an overnight train to Wuhan
March 19th - Morning - Wuhan sightseeing, etc...
Wuhan - Vox Bar - 6pm soundcheck / 9pm show
March 20th - Morning - train to Changsha (Chairman Mao's hometown)
Changsha - 4698 Bar - 6pm soundcheck / 9pm show
March 21st - Morning - flight to Shanghai
Afternoon - sighseeing
Shanghai - Logo - 8pm soundcheck / 12am show


DAY ONE SHANGHAI and NANJING

Hi. We are finally back from tour after starting with 10 days in the UK with The Bronx, that ended with our own secret warehouse party, an early morning flight to Japan, a show there with 4 days off, a portion of the tour that would culminate in us getting onto a 48 hour ferry that would take us to Shanghai, China, where we had booked 5 shows. We'll start on the boat.

We went ahead a few months ago with booking a tour of Japan, China and Australia after we got an offer from the promoters in Japan that would make flying 14 hours in either direction for one show worth it (which is almost exactly what happened). While we were booking shows in the other regions, I felt much like an easters military strategist, knowing that for capitilation of the entire region, there had to be a flashpoint. This we already had in Japan, and we spent the next few weeks wrestling with the domino theory and waiting for Australia and China to fall. We ended up getting a great offer for 3 shows in Australia, but when we started to buy plane tickets, reality set back in, and nothing could make it work. We knew now of the possibility of China falling as well, because the money we earned in Australia we were planning to pay forward on getting to China. On tour in the US, about a month before we needed to get on the outgoing airplane, we were in Denver, upstairs in the bathroom hallway of the club we were playing, looking for flights, as we had been doing every day since we decided to head east. As it stood, we had one way flights from London to Tokyo, and no idea how to pay to get back to Toronto, and no idea where it would be from. Australia as off the list. Somehow, we managed to find relatively cheap tickets to Toronto from Shanghai China. We were on the horn immediately to our friends Dan Yotive and Abe Deyo in China who would be working the tour for us. Even though nothing was booked and the proposed tour was less than 2 months away, they assured us they could make it work for everyone. We bought tickets and splayed that nights show.



Fast forward a few weeks and we're on a high speed train to Osaka. Our plan now hinged on a 48 hour boat ride from Osaka to Shanghai, which is the cheapest option for making that journey. No one we spoke to had ever heard of it. We were very skeptical, worried about the border, etc. No one even knew why it took 48 hours. The boat ride was great until everyone got sick. The first day was spent eating and playing ping pong. The 2nd day for the most part being sick in the bathroom. The overnight waves were high and frightening. Each room had a window and at night you could make out the faint and massive great swirling beneath you that would pummel the deck and try to lift you from your sleeping bed.



On the last day we woke up early and watched as the boat maneuvered up the Huangpu river into the heart of Shanghai. On the way it felt like'd we gone back in time as the river edge was all grey military bases, the river itself filed with small tugboats or ships carrying cement or sand. There were boats everywhere. In the distance was the Pudong Skyline, and we ported in view of some of the largest skyscrapers on the planet.

We all spent a good part of the boat ride nervous (among other things, like getting stabbed by the irate Chinese man we initially shared a room with, until he berated the starwards enough to let him change rooms) about crossing the border. We had tourist visas, but it's china, we all thought. We walked up to the desk, handed our paper work and took them back stamped in about 10 seconds. At the end you press a button to grade your attendants performance. We all chose "very satisfied".

We quickly ate (even though this restaurant had pictures of each of the about 150 dishes they made, including a bowl with a turtle in it covered with rice, I'm not going to describe this meal for reasons that will soon become obvious) after meeting Abe and Dan and went to catch what they told us was a "chartered bus" they had got for the short trip to Nanjing, which is where we would play our first show. After almost 3 days in the void with no outside contact, I was pleased with this result:



After last summer's fiasco, I told myself I would never get on another bus with the intention of using it as a tour vehicle. But yet on the other side of the world, I slowly trod up the steps to another yellow, stuffy and decrepit bus, this time in China. Here is a video of this particular journey.

See full report...

The bus was filled with the 6 of us, Dan and Abe and like 11 other people. Things started going from basically from when the key filled the ignition. We drove south and headed into what looked like a heavy industrial area mixed with apartments and small bight cities every dozen kilometers. The first thing you notice here is the air - the smog is so think and hangs so low that it should have an address. We start seeing fireworks going off in the distance every few minutes. The whole country feels like a giant tinderbox where every possible atom is about to explode somehow.

Meanwhile in the bus, the driver is revealing his character - after the gear shifter breaks, I see him smoking and talking into a cell phone at the same time. To make things a bit calmer, he's made his ringtone into the sound of a cop car siren, but louder.

We make our first rest stop to buy sugarcane. There are several cops on bikes circling us like Mad Max..we're not nervous? We keep spitting spend sugarcane on the road like everyone else and wait for the driver to fix the bus. He opens the top of the engine through the drivers seat like opening a can or sardines, gets underneath it, etc. As you can see from the video, we had to push the van back into gear and run into it as it drove to get back in. We're back on the road, trying to relax, and the driver is singing Chinese pop songs at full volume. Kids are sitting everywhere, on the engine, between the seats, there is crazy food all over the place. Nikki from STD is telling stories aboout the Chinese version of facebook where she calls the cops on her friends for speeding all day and pulling vegetables out from their gardens. We're all confused about everything at this point.



About 10 kms from Nanjing, the driver stops for some reason to fill up with gas (which he did with the van running). We were't hoping to stop again after what happened the last time. Of course, the van doesn't start for a bit, until he forces it and decides to drive us the rest of the way in first gear. We're going 5km/s and hour and we still think we're going to die. He can't stop the bus or it will break again, and it can't go any faster...he's tugging at the gear shift so hard it might wrench off, opening the engine while smoking, etc. It takes us 20 minutes to drive the 4 kms we were away from the toll station, so the van stops right beside a massive group of pictures warning against unsafe driving (pictures featuring the wreckage of Priness Diana, people ripped in half on the highway, the Titanic sinking?). We wait there for taxis to take us the rest of the way. Another van is chartered to bring everyone else home, which we learn later CRASHES.

We were obviously super late, so we got to the club in Nanjing and starting playing almost immediately. Despite no one in the dive knowing us or are music, we got a standing ovation as we walked from the stairs to the stage. We played at it was weird. We play lots of covers, play out of the smallest amps every, see lots of women, some taking pictures of themselves standing next to us while they play, weird mosh moves. We all have a great time.

After dinner is next door at McDonalds where I guess a guy picked up a prostitute? I spent the rest of the evening waiting downstairs at the club as the bar turns into the loudest disco I've ever been to, replete with 40 somethings slowly swaying to hard american blog-house.

13 Comments:

Blogger Bob Rob Robert said...

Awesome post. China is really interesting, moreso, I suppose, when you can read about it through the eyes (well, fingers) of your favorite band.

Can't wait for Day Two!

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys always tell the most interesting stories...

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Greydon Clark said...

While in China my feelings oscillated between love and hate on a fairly regular basis. The shitiness of driving there can not be overstated.

Checkout 398 Factory in Beijing.

I can’t wait for more updates.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous GUVNOR said...

noguvnoluv.blogspot.com

i also kept a diary if anyones interested..

GUV

7:36 AM  
Blogger GMC said...

Of course we're interested!

Also, more stories.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Þ said...

I really wish you guys could have made it to aus. That would have been brilliant

5:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please post your april tour dates.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hurry up and come to australia

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