Traveller Tip: In Asia they have breakfast, but not as you know it. If there is ever milk, it’s long life. Bread is sweet and toast isn’t a big thing. Cereal and butter is rare unless it’s a distinctly western orientated place. If you’re not prepared to experiment, buy your own 2 minute noodles from a 7-11 the night before.
29/09/2014 – Heidi (John’s daughter) found us in the bakery next door (after some of us decided that the breakfast wouldn’t cut it) and said she’d talked to the front desk and found out about buses into the CBD. So 5 of us caught the number 8 bus into town and walked around for a bit. The bus itself was great – no fancy electronic system, just put 1 RMB in a little plastic box as you get on. You don’t have the right change, you either overpay or don’t get on. I did some more Ingressing and in the process discovered some great old buildings like a Chinese Church a few blocks away from the shopping centre where we got off the bus. Apart from that, though, the city and the shopping centres were unremarkable and expensive; thousand dollar suits and $300 shirts. Back to the room for a nanna nap and prepare for the two upcoming gigs that evening.
The first gig was to be at TVU Livehouse. A Livehouse is a kind of industrial, purposely grungy feeling music venue with concrete floors, metal tables and stools, and typically dark. Our second gig was at a place called the ‘Winners Bar’, which was a cross between a jazz club and a cocktail lounge. We were picked up from the hotel and transported in a nice shiny Audi A4 and a new MG. Rock’n’roll, baby! As Winners Bar was on the way to TVU, we stopped in there first and did a sound check. Very fancy, with some great statues and instruments carefully placed around the walls, jazz-club style tables, a grand piano in the corner and a raised stage.
It was here I discovered it. My dream mike stand. I can’t describe how enamoured I was with this baby; chrome finish, with a squeeze handle release to adjust the height, a Shure birdcage mike on top with the wiring going down he middle, a solid base (not a tripod) and, best of all, the stand was on a ball socket into the base, with resistance built in so you could pull it towards you without moving the base. Oh. My. God. Singer heaven.
The mix was a bit over-poppy/karaoke, with too much reverb which we dialled back a bit, and there was a reasonable quality electronic drum we did ‘I know a girl’ for sound check and must have impressed them because they asked us to change our 1×45 minute into 2×35. From there we drove on to TVU in the supplied band cars, a late model MG and an Audi A4. Starting to feel a bit rock star now. We unload and head to the stage to find that the supplied drum kit had no cymbals despite ‘full drum kit supplied’ being specified in the rider.
A robust discussion ensued between Pete and the manager about whether ‘you supply the drumkit’ includes cymbals and eventually one of the minions was dispatched. Initially I thought they were being sent to Winners to pick up the electronic kit, but it turned out they returned with 3 shiny new brass cymbals for Mark to christen. Upstairs were two band rooms with supplied beer (warm, as is the Chinese way) overlooking the stage.
We asked for the beer to be put in the freezer and continued on with sound check, and then I went exploring and found this amazing tea room next door, beautifully set out with little lakes and alcoves. The manager lady came up to me and said something rather insistently in Chinese; I motioned that I didn’t understand and said ‘no Chinese’ but she kept on anyway. So I smiled, walked away and took some pictures. I can imagine this place being a popular proposal, first date venue. As I was leaving, a young lady came up to me saying in broken English, ‘this lady is the manager and she would like you to have some tea’. It sounded very nice and I thought that maybe she would be honoured by having a westerner in there, but was concerned about the time and so passed that message back. I returned to the club and told Rob about it; he said it was a common scam and it was probably a good thing I didn’t.
Eventually we started the show. It was a small crowd but they were all very complimentary, saying that we were the best band they’d heard there. We gave away a couple of T-shirts and chatted for a bit before being reminded that we were due at Winners Bar. So back into the ‘band cars’. Rock’n’Roll, baby! We arrived at Winners and led to a table with an entree of fruit and sweet popcorn. Beers were supplied (warm) and then the second course of a minute steak was served. Surprisingly it was remarkably well prepared and cooked. Then a bowl of spaghetti bolognese – cue the paper bib to protect the stage clothes. Not so much Rock’nRoll!
We went on to play two sets to a very appreciative crowd, including a photographer who followed us from TVU. He posted up some photos here. Once finished, we did some fan photo’s, sold some merch, signed some stuff and drank binda pijou. Then back by taxi (wait – what? Where’s the MG? Where’s the Rock’n’Roll?) to the FX hotel ready for an early start, travelling to Taiyuan.