Sunday, 5 February 2012
Tour - SS20 in China
"We left Riesa on Friday at 9 a.m. and arrived at Shanghai 20 hours later. There we met Jing – also called Anita. Shortly after we headed for Nanjing by train - the “Superfast-Train” at a speed of 300 km/h! Later we found out about a fatal crash on this route that killed a lot of people. Hotel check-in: the shower has a door, but the toilet doesn’t. Maik can watch Ronny while he's sitting on the throne. We left for the 61Club. Some energy resources remained, but couldn't be activated after 30 sleepless hours.
Midnight is over and after the “evening” meal it's time to go to bed – time for a 9-hour-sleep. The train ride to Hefei is next. While waiting for the bus we watch barfing construction workers and pregnant women at the bus stop across the street. Still nebulous, if they all stopped at the same motorway restaurant or if the driver didn't know how to use the brake... After the arrival: soundcheck then a short walk through the city district. Tonight's “support band” is the movie “Noise and Resistance”. We played a great SS20 show and got very good feedback. After the concert we had a street snack and went to the next punk club, where they played party games with physical contact and we taught the bar crew a cocktail lesson.
Well rested we took a walk around the block. Our 19 hour drive by train started at 9 p.m., so we visited the museum of local history. Here we got tons of information about Anhui Province in fast-forward and got to know, what remains hidden for a touring band. We even were asked by the Chinese state-run television to present the intro for the weekly culture show. In costumes!
After we snatched our beds in close combat with the other passengers we visited the train restaurant. The restaurant closed at 10 p.m. but after the head of the bar went to bed the bar re-opened for us.
Nothing special was going on when we arrived in Shenzhen. It felt like 30°C in the shadows and we immediately put on our bermudas. After a very kind welcome at the club we did a 1 and ½ hour soundcheck. Then a guy in a 4 SIVIT-Shirt entered the room – it's Vincent from Guangzhou, who had welcomed the SIVITS four years ago. A big Hello and a lot of hugs. Later a nice moshpit in front of the stage. Tonight we stay at Chloe's place, a good friend with excellent connections to Leipzig.
We have to get up at 7 a.m, don't ask me why... But we slept very well, except for the the times we were hunting for mosquitos. We enjoy our two hour breakfast and hit the road for Hong Kong. At the border we met our buddy from Fanzui Xiangfa, Mai Dian from Wuhan. He wants to attend a discussion about autonomous open spaces. After we found the venue, we join the hustle and bustle of the city. But soon we're pissed off, so we have a little dinner and visit the Lady's Market. We didn’t see any more women than anywhere else, there were no women’s clothes and no forbidden fruit. We haven't a clue, why the market is named that. Back in the club we should decide if we want a live recording of our set. Who would say NO?! The space in front of the stage isn't filled, but the few people who are there, give their best. After the show we head back to Chloe's place in Shenzhen.
Because of traffic jam we arrived in Guangzhou quite late. Chloe accompanies us with her video camera. A Chinese woman who is even taller than Rohnny welcomes us. The audience is well-behaved: everyone sits on his/her table. Jazz-Club-Feeling. After the first third Rico wrecks his bass drum. The sound guy holds a lesson about “how to use a drum pedal”. Rico nods politely. Tonight's audience is very international with a big Armenian faction. Later we get a live recording of our last year's show. And there's a Jaegermeister-Promo. The local HC-guys along with Maik and Rohnny do their best in drinking to earn the Jaegermeister gear. Hotel-Check-In at midnight. At 2 a.m. Rico meets Maik and Rohnny at the club – Rico is in search of his camera battery and Rohnny and Maik are in search of more beers. So we found a place to have our beer and talked about the good old days. After almost no sleep we actually wanted to have a snack in a Muslim snack bar but a mouse ran over Anita's feet so we tried the next snack bar. There we had pulverized noodles, that smelled like pelleted fish food. Well: just a short stop.
It took us 4 hours by bus to get to Hezhou. We deposited our instruments and merch at the club. In the hotel Rohnny teaches Maik and Anita a lesson in Knack (a simple game of cards). Anita always loses the game, but she is happy nevertheless. Rohnny goes shopping while the rest of us do soundcheck. We reminisce about the incredible show last year. This year there aren't that many people – but it's awesome again. Almost everybody wants to go to bed early. The unwilling rest are put in a taxi...
The alarm clock rings at 6 a.m. A catlick in the tiny bathroom and then to the train station. The next 8 hours we sit on hard-seats in the train. Only one who has had a hard-seat experience, can understand what that means... In Germany even a DHL parcel travels more comfortably. At 4.30 p.m. we arrive in Nanning, near to the Vietnamese border. On Maik's request we don't go by taxi but by Tuk-Tuk-Motorcycle. Great! Check-In, coffee, preparation for the show. The venue is located in a kind of artsy part of town. Rico will play in a glass box in the corner behind the speakers. Later it turns out to be a hothouse and a torture chamber of sound. At least there's a support band tonight, but with a too short a set. The club is filled well, a good show and an awesome crowd. Later we meet the booking guys in a noisy open air restaurant. It's incredibly loud – we even have to shout at our neighbors to understand each other. The booking guys demands German drinking games. But such games aren't our cup of tea, so we just know one: “quarter in the glass”. For the Chinese there is no holding. Fortunately the beer's quite light. In return they want to teach us something new. Rohnny is the one who gets taught. The real gameplay remains unclear for us, but it's a paper-scissor-rock-kinda game. Rohnny wins nevertheless and his opponent has to puke.
We get up early again. Freshly showered and with clean clothes we team up with the booking guys. Even Rohnny's last night paper-rock-scissor-sparrings partner made it. Pat on our back for the great show again. We are very pleased and cheerfully we start the day. Fivefold security check at the train station. Yesterday we thought there was no lower class than the Hardseat, but this was a mistake. But we survive the ride – it's just a five hour journey. In Guilin we're picked up by Liu Liu, the singer of Fanzui Xiangfa. Three beautiful days to come. After arriving at Liu Liu's place he cooks for us – delicious! Afterwards we went for a stroll through town and prepared for the soundcheck. Today no glass box, but In-Ear-Monitoring. Playing without any monitoring at all is better than this in-ear-stuff! A Postpunk band and our host's local Punkrock band are also playing tonight. We play a solid set, but we are bone-weary and can feel the exhaustion of the last days, so we need some little pauses between the songs. After the concert we pack our gear quickly and get prepared for Anita's birthday. At midnight Anita gets a birthday cake with candles and a little choir who sings a beautiful birthday tune. Most of us want to go to bed quite early. But Rico and Anita prefer some birthday drinks at the bar.
Today no alarm clock. At noon we 're heading for Yangshou, Asia's nature and climbing paradise. We'll play a show in the local reggae bar at short notice. But before playing: sightseeing and a raft ride. Not a moment too soon it stops raining when we enter the raft. The weather god loves us. We take a walk on the tourist promenade and go shopping. In the club we check the backline. There is a children's drum for rico and a bass combo for Madelaine, which is kept together by a fake leather cover. Thanks to Liu Liu, because of his connections the drum is replaced with a better one. The bar is the stage at the same time. On the owner's request we play just a short set. Obviously she tries to spare the neighbor's nerves. We have some technical difficulties, but nevertheless we manage to please the crowd and even to reach the people sitting outside. A big after show party follows. We dance, the light beer streams down, the real winner is a black ale with cacao- and coffee flavor. In the morning we head back to the hotel...
2011/11/08 and 09
We woke up with headache and stomach ache and drove back to Guilin. After a hot noodle snack we spent a nineteen hour journey in the train to Kunming, where we are welcomed by our last year's tour fairy May. We stay at Pinki's place. In a easy-going atmosphere Pinki's mom serves noodles with coffee and tea. But we got the impression that we'll spend the night in a ice palace, because the temperature in the flat was at least 5 degrees colder then outside. And it was unseasonably chilly in Kunming anyway. In the afternoon we strolled to the green lake and tried to play Battleships with two boats. Because of the lacking success, Rico tried to chain the rival boats to the parapet. After the battle we inspect the club: quite big venue, accessible through a noodle restaurant with a French pizza gourmet chef. The crowd wants to dance and demands an encore and nudity. We sell one vinyl 12 inch! That's beyond all expectations. The after-show party gets excessive. Our Chinese companions, May, Anita and Pinki raise the bar!
The Chinese Ladies have just a limited radius of action. Maybe last night was a bit too excessive. Fortunately Pinki's mother is fit as a fiddle and serves a delicious breakfast. With a heavy heart we say good-bye to May, Pinki and her Mom and take our seats in the train to Chonqing. Twenty hours later we check in our hotel, it's just a 2 minute walk away from the club. We have a lot of time, so we visit the “revolutionary prison hill”, where we got a lesson in Chinese propaganda about the heroic communist battles against the evil henchmen of the Kuomintang. After visiting a former detention camp we got enough and decide to take a look at the historic city center. Nevin of FANZUI XIANGFA joined us for the next 2 days – he just flew in from Beijing. The historic city is overcrowded but cute. The temperature is around 20°C and it's nice to try a lot of local treats in the sunshine. Even Rohnny himself becomes a tourist attraction. He allows gawkers to touch his dreadlocks for 20 chinese bucks. Over 250 people showed up tonight, 70% girls – a wild and sweaty moshpit. A lot of students of German language in the audience, who want to improve there language skills after the show. We are patient and polite and repeat if necessary, that we don't give a shit about Germany. Later we we have a night snack, that almost made our bellies burst.
We pack our gear and Rico notices that his drum pedal is missing. Nevin offers to search the club again for the pedal. Later he will join us in Chengdu., where we are welcomed by Ruby, Anita's best friend. One part of the band remembers her, the other part has some gaps in their memory because of too many drinks last year in D22. When we arrive at the club “Little Bar” Rico and the barkeeper realize that they know each other. They share common memories of a long night after the THE 4 SIVITS-show four years ago. We have our dinner in the Hotpot restaurant. In view of a one liter bottle of chilli emptied into the pot we break out in a cold sweat. The first bite numbs lips and tongue and the body gets used to the hot meal very slowly. But we stay brave and eat up everything. Tonight we share the stage with a 90’s-screamo-styled band. The singer brought his own podium. Good show! Rohnny scares the well-behaved sitting couples and gives a bloody nose to ruby's boyfriend in the pogo pit. Maik has some technical difficulties with the amp. Till sunrise we have a lot of fun and drinks in a local beer tavern.
Today's Sunday and we have a day-off in Chengdu. The concert in Miangyang has been canceled. Madelaine's order of the day: “Panda watching!” Near Chengdu there is a huge panda area for panda care, panda breeding and for panda watching. Maik and Rico realize that they already know this panda zoo. We learned that pandas have a very important motto in life: “ eat and sleep”. It's quite bizarre that the Chinese have such a lazy bum for their national animal. Back in the city Anita and Ruby started cooking and Ruby's boyfriend Wen Qiang told us that he's a BMX pro, who rides for Nike. He should take part in a Asia BMX Contest, but the Chinese state only wanted to admit that, when he wears the China jersey. But he wasn't up for that. On his request we taught him the german phrase “you are beautiful” but Ruby only replied: “you asshole!” Mmmhhh.... We suggested that he keep on communicating in Chinese.
The train from Chengdu to Xi'an arrived at 6 o'clock in the morning. The train station's forecourt is crowded with waiting and arriving people, with map sellers and Tuk-Tuks. We saw the town wall and knew, that we were in the old capitol of 13 dynasties. Xi'an is Anita's hometown. Her father organized a little bus we can use for the whole day. We visit the famous Terracotta army and the oldest temple. In the muslim influenced old town we passed maybe a thousand souvenir stands and snack or bakery stalls of the same amount. The hotel is just around the corner from the club. The first band consists of some kids who seem to like the sound of Killswitch Engage. We say Hello to some friends and we do our very best on stage. So the people in front of the stage do too.
Next day: a big feast with Anita's parents. They present the whole spectrum of local cuisine. Circa 20 different specialties are served bit by bit. After the first half we already have had enough and have to unbutton our trousers. Later we board our train to Wuhan. The Chinese taught us again that the order in the queue doesn't equate to the boarding order... After the lights were dimmed in the sleeping car and the beer supplies are used up we visit the “Mitropa” (a.k.a. restaurant car). Time seems to have stood still here. Crystal lampshades hang lopsided, seem to be aluminum coated and are abused as ash trays. Our advantage, that we don't eat here and just drink our last “Papst Blues Ribbons” cans.
Arrival in Wuhan we go by bus to Wane's apartment. But there's big disaster: a bag gets lost in the overcrowded bus right in the moment, when Wane waved to us from the bus stop. Furthermore Rico gets news that his van got involved in a car accident back home. Not a good day, for anybody. We try to do the best in this situation. At least it's 20°C and the sun is shining. Madelaine stays in bed, because her stomach is very sensitive to the scent of Chinese food. The rest of us explore the city of Wuhan. The show is in the club “Folks Hand”. We meet our buddy Wu Wei, the singer of SMZB, who delivers new shirts and tour CDs. Tonight he's the sound technician and is in despair, because he can't get Rohnny's voice loud enough. Funnily enough during the show there's no voice problem anymore. Lots of people showed up tonight, lots of friends among them. The “Folks Hand” is the club on this tour that reminds us of european Punk locations. Wu Wei organized a show in a metal bar for friday on short notice. We really looked forward to this show, because the bar's owner is the singer of Hellfire, a metal band we played with in Wuhan last year and a band we really had a lot of fun with.
Today we sleep in and relax. Everybody strolls around to get some souvenirs for loved ones back home. Late afternoon: we enter the Hellfire club. For the show more than 20 people showed up, not bad for a only 24 hour promotion, especially as the club is located in a “French” shopping mall and only opens for shows. The Hellfire guys start with make-up and coated in metal and leather. We are deafeningly loud, but the sound is good. The crowd is headbanging and the “french fries fork” is shown almost constantly.
Today there is no time to sleep in. We feel quite exhausted and get to the train station. We are weighed down with instruments, merchandise, souvenirs and some personal belongings. In Zhenghzhou we are welcomed by Sha, who already was in charge of our well-being last year. The club changed its address and shares the premises with a book store. Good idea. The book store is well equipped and even has a little punk section. We found “Please Kill Me” and Henry Rollin's “Get In The Van” in Chinese! Anita told us, that a lot of critical chinese literature is also available. Unfortunately no local band tonight. Good show, after it an excessive photo and signing session follows. Later we hang around at the club, because our train doesn't leave until half past 1 a.m. We are indignant about some Chinese who occupied our beds in the sleeping car. We complain without success. Our tickets were valid for the night before – big mistake by the ticket seller. With Anita's help we get a hard seat at least and don't have to leave the train. The train conductor doesn't like our suggestion to take a seat in the restaurant car. Maybe she's worried about the beer supplies. Rohnny does some business talk without any translator with unknown results.
Arriving in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., maybe the arrival we longed for most during the whole tour. We need 2 cabs to get to David in the north of the city. David's a quite successful architect with an excellent taste in music and enough space for us to sleep in his three-story home – a paradise after 5 hours on wooden benches. David's girlfriend cooked a delicious lunch and well-fed we arrive at the club called Mao. We spend the time after soundcheck spending all of our chinese bucks , greeting a lot of friends and evaluating the tour. This last show is a good ending for the tour. A good mix of band playing. First Unregenerated Blood, a Beijing Hardcore band! Then RWK – Social Distortion-style punk with the drummer from Joyside, the singer is one of the first chinese punks ever. We play a good show, but our announcements aren't that fluent anymore. After 2 weeks of touring the english vocabulary falters a bit. After the show we have our last evening meal for a long time in this line-up. Maik and Rohnny embrace our host's offer to have some drinks. At 8'o clock a.m. the sound of empty bottles herald the homeward journey. That's it. We fly home. Thanks for all the helping hands in China and at home, who made all this possible. Thank you so much! There is no sense in name dropping, but pars pro toto huge kisses for Anita, our head of tour, for Seb in Dresden, Hannes in Leipzig, Wane and Mai Dian in Wuhan, Qin in UK and Nevin and Ren in Beijing! Merci!"