CHINA DAY 6 AND 7
Hey we're finally getting around to wrapping up the final few days of our China recollection. If you want you can read Young Guvs words about the tour right HERE. Sorry that posting has been so scarce lately - if we're not on tour we're on vacation so it just hasn't been happening in the last few weeks/months. Here's this new blockbuster to chomp at two days before we go back on tour and you don't hear from us for another 3 weeks because we'll be partying in Zagreb and at other eastern European Westivals.
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
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
So we left off as we climbed into our beds in the most heinous hotel rooms in the Eastern Hemisphere. Today our plan was to get on another train and take it to Changsha, as you can see from the itinerary just above this paragraph. Also you might notice that this is where Mao is said to have been born, apparently. It's also the capital city of the Hunan province, which is a place where a lot of stinky and crazy food comes from, just like every other city in this strange country. And just like every other non-major city in China, it has way more people than the biggest cities in Canada.
We get to the show an immediately lose Damian, who we later learn managed to find a cheap toystore directly beneath the venue and scored some 10 cent action robots that did a light show. As soon as the rest of us walk in the door the promotor starts yelling at us in Chinese and English for being late, because the start of the show got held up. While we wonder why he needed to wait for the opening bands to start playing until we arrived, one of them starts getting ready to play, so we sit back and watch. It's a mixture of weird American screamo, and our own assumptions about what teenage Chinese bands should sound like. The best part was that after our set they came over to tell us what American screamo band members we all look like. I apparently look like the singer of the band FINCH.
That evenings most important events took place after the show. We had met some of Abe's friends from Wisconsin or something, who were going to take us for some legitimate Hunan cuisine. We walked through a temporary electronics market set up on the street (it was past midnight on a school night and the main streets were still full of vendors and teenaged babes hanging out on their boyfriends tiny motorcycles) on our way to a giant restaurant tucked behind some industrial building. As usual Abe orders 9 million different things, 2 of which will be vegetarian, both of which will be boiled spinach. Meanwhile the table is filling up with more kinds of fried meat and seafood that Noah's Ark, and to add to that, one of the bearded white dudes gets up to go get some "hot" chicken wings from a street vendor outside to bring back to add to our menagerie. Keep in mind that we are inside a restaurant and we're basically ordering in more food. Plus the place is filling up with people trying to sell us beer and other drinks from the street.
The wings kid comes back and basically kills Damian Ben and Jonah. Damian wigs out and accidentally wipes his spice-impregnated fingers all over his sweaty head, which then breaks out full in hives. Jonah is crying. They are the spiciest wings on planet earth. Meanwhile I'm digging into what I think is slices of marinated potato, which turns out to just be huge impractical pieces of ginger from a dish that was mostly sauce and frog-legs. The room is kind of spinning since we're all eating the most flavourful hot shit any of us has ever seen, everyone is smoking like 10 cigarettes. They bring out the stinky tofu, another regional delicacy and understatement. It smells like manure, without hyperbole. Ben chastises me for not trying any, but it's as grey as used charcoal - something I would sooner eat, might I add - and just as hard. It looks like small chunks of sizzling meteorite basted in anus. I pass. Ben takes a miniscule bite, and the dish goes generally un-noticed by the rest of the group. Anyhow, we need these morsels of energy to fuel our train the next day.
An army of small lobsters and crayfish are presented to us next. They are all wearing top hats and do a cabaret dance on the table before laying down to be consumed. The restaurant has become so smoky that I can hardly see my hand infront of my face. We've had endless bottles of beer and 7-UP, mountains of white rice. Four hours later we pay our $30 for the meal and are poured back onto the spicy streets. We go to an American style donut place, which ends up being gross. I do not remember how we got back to our hotel, or even what it was like. Probably amazing.
The next morning we set out for another train station. I had been secretly lobbying Abe since day one of the tour to arrange to take a train to Shanghai rather than an airplane, because the last thing I need on this trip is to board a flying machine after being on multiple steam-powered trains and buses and taxis that underwent engine repaid while in use. It makes sense for us to take the train anyhow, so on we go. Interesting things happen while we wait for it at the station. I get pineapple beer (which is actually just pineapple juice with maybe .001% beer, kind of like a mild pineapple shandy) and they find something that looks like freezer-dried dog feet. Then an odd thing happens. Ben and Sandy find a kid in possession of a duck - in a bag. He'd apparently spent his time waiting for a train punching it. What a weird place.
We get on our final train of the trip and settle in for an 8 hour ride. I re-watch the Liverpool Man U game from last week again and then run out of laptop batteries. I charge it for a bit in the bathroom so I can watch 30 rock or something, and then get bored. A car ahead of us a woman is playing the flute to sheet music to the bemusement of the entire train. Sandy and Jonah star drawing pictures of everyone and Jonah's inability to draw sends him into paroxysms of laughter that could only come from being holed up on a train speeding through the vast reaches of rural China. Every few minutes a food cart rolls up the aisle and I get this huge thing of fresh fruit. Ben's got some soup crackers that taste like soup. 900 games of euchre later and we get to Shanghai just in time for the worst torrential downpour in recent memory. It's still early (ie 11pm) so we head to the hotel and wait for the rain to chill out a bit before we go wait at the club to play. We arrive a bit after 1am and are welcomed by a subcultural United Nations. Shanghai feels like what New York or LA must have been like during the 70s and 80s before culture was so defined - it feels so fresh and new here, like no one knows whats going to happen tommorow, but that people from all over the world have come to live here and find out. Dozens of nationalities must have been represented at this show, from all continents. Teachers, children of diplomats, travellers. Also there is like 300 people there, spilling out into the street. We chill by the door and watch the world parade show up from taxis in the rain.
We play our custom party-shambolic set, which means we mix in as many pedestrian good time covers as we know, and try to deal with the fact that none of the amps, nor the PA actually really work. None of it matters because no one cares about us, they just want to have a good time. We slog on and it's one of the best shows we've done and we only had to travel half way across the world (and then back then next day) to play it. We all get kind of privately emo and it puts a lot of things about our short career as musicians into perspective. We kind of don't want to stop playing, but do anyways. It feels really great to be playing music in China. We all hang out at the bar for a while and just breath in the great mixture. Damian and Jonah head out into the city with Abe because they fly out the next morning, the rest of us go to bed because we're staying for a few more days to chill. It's been the craziest, most improbable but memorable and worthwhile tour we've ever done and we all feel humbled and greatful to have been given the opportunity and would recommend it to anyone with half the chance to come here.
Also when me and Josh went to get suits taylored, Abe wheeled a girl: