outsider-punk noise experimental rock two-piece from Aotearoa New Zealand

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The It’s All Over [part’s of] the World Tour

We’re on the road again, a roadtrip of friends and adventures, a glimpse  of this mad, enthralling dynamic world in change. We hope to see you along the way, click beer glasses and wish each other well. Details to the shows below may be subject to change, however, if it’s here we are under the pretense that we are confirmed. We expect a few more to be added in the coming weeks. Already there are heaps to thank for the generous support in helping us to set this beast in motion – it will be a long list by the end.

Tour Diary:

Shanghai Arrival
Guangzhou a-gogo
Guiyang – a do-do run run
It’s a long way to Chengdu if you want a spicy box of tofu
Nuts in Chongqing
Fly through Wuhan
Another typical story: a mosh pit in a Moroccan restaurant in Beijing

Carbon Offsetting the tour

mr-sterile-tour-poster_chinatour

Tour dates:

  • OCTOBER 14 FRIDAY : China, Shanghai: Venue – Space-631 – 7pm: with Torturing Nurse, 反方向的钟, 白梦薇
  • OCTOBER 14 FRIDAY : China, Shanghai: Venue – Yuyintang – 9pm: with Round Eye, & South Acid Mimi, Bedstars , Dirty Fingers
  • OCTOBER 15 SATURDAY : China, Guangzhou : Venue-Loft345 w/Die!ChiwawaDie!
  • OCTOBER 16 SUNDAY : China, Guiyang : Venue – Power Livehouse Anniversary Party w/Lost Horse
  • OCTOBER 19 WEDNESDAY : China, Chengdu : Venue – Nu Space w/Don Trash
  • OCTOBER 20 THURSDAY : China, Chongqing : Venue – Nuts Livehouse w/You Come Twice
  • OCTOBER 21 FRIDAY : China , Wuhan : Venue – Coastline w/Panic Worm
  • OCTOBER 22 SATURDAY : China , Beijing: Venue – Caravan: with The Death Narcissist + DJ Fido
  • OCTOBER 23 SUNDAY : China , Beijing : Venue -Fruityspace w/Baba Rossa (Orchestra of Spheres星迹乐团)
  • OCTOBER 28 FRIDAY : Italy, Tornareccio : Venue – Invizin  1st Birthday: with Polemica, treis [TOR], DJ zi ‘orizi’e (roots-rock-reggae) & dj da’hil (eclettico)
  • NOVEMBER 1 TUESDAY : London : Venue – Vegbar : With Dreamherbs, Daij VHS and Danny Trash
  • NOVEMBER 3 THURSDAY : Finland, Helsinki : Venue – Henry’s Pub : w/Lazards & Sirja and Konfuusio
  • NOVEMBER 4 FRIDAY : Finland, Tampere : Venue – O’Hara’s ; with Xes
  • NOVEMBER 16 WEDNESDAY : Czech Republic, Loket : Venue – Hrad Loket : w/ Už jsme doma
  • NOVEMBER 17 THURSDAY : Czech Republic, Tabor : Venue – CESTA žije : w/ Už jsme doma
  • NOVEMBER 18 FRIDAY : Czech Republic, Lanškroun ; Venue – Apollo ; w/ Už jsme doma
  • NOVEMBER 19 SATURDAY : Czech Republic, Teplice n.M. Venue Dědov :Festival Webrocka
  • NOVEMBER 20 SUNDAY : Czech Republic, Prague: Venue Vagon : Opening for The Plastic People of the Universe
  • NOVEMBER 25 FRIDAY : London : Venue – The Others : line TBA
  • NOVEMBER 26 SATURDAY : London : Venue – Iklectic Art Lab : Line up TBA
  • DECEMBER 3 SATURDAY : Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur : Venue – TBA
  • DECEMBER 4 SUNDAY : Singapore : Venue – TBA

Huge thanks to Kiwese! Rudy & Chachy, Junky, Howie and the crew at Loft 345, Die! Chiwawa Die!, Jinn, Tan Zhong, Nu Space, the crew at Nuts Livehouse, Panic Worm, the crew at Coastline, Badr at Caravan, Dan & Susu, Dan Beban, the crew at Fruity Space, Hilary [xxx] INVIZIN, and all the wonderful people in Tornareccio, Dream Herbs,  Assad and Annabel at Vegbar, Marina at Other rock show, Kaarle, Pietsu

Snow shows – 4 days in Finland

We leave London at sparrowsfart to catch our plane to Finland. It’s early early and its amazing to see the city asleep. It’s an interesting thing to contemplate – at this pre-dawn hour the majority of the population of London appear to consentually slip into sleep in their millions simultaneously. It’s as if at the end of the each day they all collectively go ‘good night’ and slide into slumberland. This major city feels truely dormant at this dark hour. It seems a bit odd. We catch our train then plane and leave.

mmexport1479940875953.jpgDescending through the blanket of cloud we start to see the outline of islands and water. At a distance these look like pebbles in a puddle but that is just a illusion of distance. As we go lower we can see roof tops and roads, signs of life appearing out of the beautiful snow covered landscape.

We land at Helsinki airport. Leaving the plane to walk across the tarmac to a bus to take us to the terminal in the whisper of falling snow. We learn swiftly to step with caution as the black ice makes itself known underfoot.

Finland, to date you win the prize for the most grumpy boarder guards at passport control. More chilly that the outdoor environment. Well done.

Once across the boarder we eventually decipher the metro line that will take us into the heart of Helsinki. There are two trains to choose from and they both go to the same place, but it took some moments to learn to interpret these new signs and directions in a completely unfamiliar dual language.

We arrive at the central terminal where we make our way to the front entrance of the train station. As we leave we look back at the remarkable facade of massive stone sculptural figures holding illuminating orbs to light the paths.

It is bitterly cold, zero degrees. It is a land of coats, hats, gloves and scarfs. Although there is still the random pedestrian seen strolling in shorts, t-shirt and jandels!.

We walk to the venue which is a short distance but maybe takes longer than usual to walk as we navigate snow drifts, traffic and ice. Mounds of fresh snow are piled up to the side to keep the paths open. These snow banks are over one metre in depth.

GPS is our friend and we find the venue, Henry’s Pub, easily. It is located on the perimeter of a central square. It’s a modest sized bar that warmly welcomes us with rest, food and brews while we wait for our contact and organiser, Kaarle, and the other bands, to arrive.

Slowly band members start to gather and introductions are made. The other groups are Sirja & Konfuusio and Lizards. The performance of Sirja and co seemed to be a collaborative project – Sirja being the main song writter and the trio Konfuusio adding the rock to her songs. There were some solid tunes and we also really enjoyed hearing that particularly finnish sound. Moments were reminiscent of Dunedin band Cloudboy. Next up, Lizards, a competent performance that reminded of a Jack Black musical project. Our performance was last, and seemed  very well received. There were a few responses that felt quite overwhelming and some seemed particular energised from what we had offered. One lovely comment we received was that we ‘played Finnish music’. Somehow what we played made a particular kind of sense that was unanticipated. A lot of very fine music has come from Finland so we happily received the compliment.

Post show we head for the trains again, our accommodation is at Kaarle’s place, located in the village Jokela, about an hour out of Helsinki. We first need to navigate those offers of post-show drinks and after parties. The last train to catch is at a quater to midnight and it’s a close-call, if we miss the train it’s a night in a Helsinki pub and the snow.

But we manage to extract ourselves and head for the train. We find out the snows only started yesterday. This marks the start of a long winter and it’s interesting to discuss the impact this has on the locals, how they cope during the long dark winters. We catch the train with minutes to spare, striking up random conversations with others on the train who are keen to teach us Finnish swear words … important stuff to learn.

Jokela is a small village, two supermarkets, a pub and a pizza shop. We investigate the town when we wake, the local lake has already started to freeze over. Bird prints can be traced in the fresh snow, small collections of the white dust gathers and balances on the last of autumn’s fruiting trees. There’s no wind, it is still and crisp and cool. The lake has started to freeze. We pass time with pizza and beer before we have to reconvene and hit the road for our next show in the city of Tampere two hours north of here.

It is an uneventful roadtrip. There’s a small opportunity to sleep as we cruise along the motorway, between forests, deer fences and snow.

In Tampere we are playing at the pub called O’Haras, it has a vague celtic feel but plays a broad and fascinating background music selection that swings between contemporary finnish pop to brutal nordic metal. The cross section of drinkers in the pub seem to not be bothered by whatever is blasted across the sound system. It’s quite wonderful.

The bar’s venue space is downstairs. We are playing with a local trio called Xes, guitar, drums and barritone saxophone. One of the downsides of wearing make-up is that it takes about 25 minutes to prepare, and during this preparation we often miss a lot of the preceeding performance before us. It’s a constant tension. Xes present entertaining show. They are currently recording their first album with the extrodinary finnish musician Pennti Dassum. Pennti has been involved in many, many awesome musical projects and we hope at some point to meet him. We have many mutual friends. It’s funny that we almost meet via Xes. Next time.

20161105_024428.jpgWe play well. And again it’s well received. This is confirmed in part by the regular plying of alcohol from audience members with offers of gin and other alcohol during our set. And then the enthusiastic responses after we finish. It seems our music has found a natural home among some of these Finnish ears. It is definitely encouraging when we contemplate future tours to know that it will go down well here.

We leave O’Hara’s and head to a local pub for an after gig tipple. Here we get to enter into some wonderful conversation while trying some local liquorice tasting liquors. Closing time arrives and we spill out on to the street to a nearby taxi stand. We travel across town and stay with one of Kaarle’s friends in a student university hostel. A very nice meeting and full of encouragement.

We are in Finland for three nights but have only managed to get two shows. Even though we started the organising earlier in the year confirming shows seemed a challenge. We discussed this at length while in Finland to understand what the Finnish context is like. It seems the Finnish independent music scene has been hit hard in the economic downturn. Several years ago it was possible to play many venues and many shows. Things have got tighter and the opportunities have significantly reduced. Venues are only hiring bigger bands that have some draw but are not creating opportunities for newer acts. It would seem that this is going to be a problem in years to come. New acts need places to cut their teeth, to develop innovative sounds and to hone skills outside of economic imperitives.

So we find ourselves with a Saturday night off in Finland. We decide to make our way back to Helsinki, that way it will be easy to get to the airport on  Sunday.

We find a reasonable priced hotel in the inner city. The snowing hasn’t really stopped. And we seek out heat. Given that one of the things Finland is famous for is the sauna, we make our way to one of the older saunas in Helsinki central. It is a sauna that has been functional for the best part of the last 70 years, gender segregated into male and female only. There’s no obvious clear instruction so it’s basically learning by observation. The pattern seems to be hang out in the heat for a bit, then out into the snow for a beer then repeat. Health-giving activities. It seems the traditional saunas are disappearing due to the modern apartments all having electric sauna instalment. Many of the classics saunas have gone, there are only three left.

And that’s it. A weekend in Finland, an excellent investigation to see how we go here and it will be totally worth returning, hopefully not too far into the future.

A massive massive thanks to Kaarle for all the work that went into setting up the shows, and for the hosting and transportation. Also big thanks to Pietsu, Kristian, Petri, Marge, and Jan.

Utopizza

wp-1479240343555.jpgRome, a city of small cars and scruffy green spaces. Hints of old artifacts visible from a bus window. Does it smell as it did three thousand years ago? A country of roundabouts in lieu of traffic lights,  a roading system with more curves than a sack of spiral pasta. Big blue skies framed by rising ranges in one direction,  and the halitosis of progress breathes its smoggy breath out the other way. A city adorned in street-art tattoos on almost every conceivable surface.

Italy is our next destination after China. We land after an exhausting 30 hour journey from Beijing, through Qatar, to Rome, to train,  to bus, to van to bed. We’re camping down at Invizin. We arrive on the Monday night and have a few days to recover from the jetlag before a show on Friday. The party is to mark the 1st birthday of this recently established cultural hothouse in San Giovani, located on the outskirts of the village of Tornareccino, East coast, South of the city of Pescara by an hour or so.

It’s warm when we land but the temperature drops as we head into the hills. On a clear day you can look down to the north and see the Adriatic coast. For the first couple of days jetlag dictates our patterns.

Invizin is the new art/science/technology and sustainability project of Hilary Binder.

“Invizin is a not-for-profit international cultural laboratory focused on stimulating and supporting ideas that challenge the status quo of social tolerance and material and intellectual sustainability. We invite and form international collaborations to apply artistic practice, scientific research and analysis, technological advances, and radical thinking across multiple fields. Based in the Italian region of Abruzzo, Invizin develops and implements model solutions that build creative and sustainable common futures…”

We first met Hilary about ten years ago when SABOT, the duo she drummed with, toured Aotearoa New Zealand. Sabot had been based in the Czech town of Tabor where Hilary, and Sabot bass player Chris Rankin, established the cultural exchange station called CESTA. The CESTA project was an art/culture/activist/community development project. It was truly inspiring for us when we first encountered it,  and it still remains a key example of art and action in practice.

As well as catching up with Hilary on this tour, we are excited also that we have the opportunity to return to CESTA in a few weeks to perform at the house. Chris remains at CESTA and it’s been wonderful reconnecting in the setting up of our show there. More on that later.

We take refuge at Invizin, wrapped up in the presence of Autumn turning across the countryside. We sleep, then wake to a valley dressed in low cloud, go slow and charge up with food and coffee. We head into the village for a beer and visit local cheese shops and hardware stores. The population of the village is 1832.

The days roll past slowly as we recover from the jetlag. We spend the hours talking, eating, exploring the Invizin library, eating Gelato by the Adriatic and seeing flags of local successful protests to stop off-shore oil exploration.  In the evenings it’s back to more food and alcohol. It’s a holiday.

Much of the conversation centres on the working concept Hilary has for Invizin. The building is a multi-level space on the top of a rise on the outskirts of town. Hilary has one level as living space and library. The ground floor has a history of being a restaurant many years ago. This project of Hilary’s is a new iteration of her ongoing commitment to social justice and social change, based on anarchist philosophy and the power of creative expression. Invizin is continuing to grow into a regular space for local musicians to gather and discover musical improvisation, to gently and sonically push out boundaries of perception while establishing new patterns, friendships and opportunities. There have been other previous Italian projects as well, such as creating festivals to celebrate the women of the villages.

wp-1479239254374.jpgRecently though, the place was burgled. A whole collection of useful tools and other bits and pieces were taken. Hilary entered into conversation with the thieves in the form of posters around stating to not steal from poor artists, but the rich and the state.

Earlier in the year Hilary was approached by some local musos asking her to sing for a group they were establishing. Eventually Hilary said yes and the group Polemica burst into life. They have recently self-released their first album of original material on vinyl and are touring across Europe diy style. Many of these ways of working, in an independent self-determined way are new for the band members. It seems to us that Hilary has already helped to create new openings for some members of the community.

 

A huge focus of our stay though is that we get to perform at the first birthday of Invizin on our final night, playing alongside Polemica and a local reggae DJ for the locals.

The building Hilary uses for Invizin used to be a local restaurant years ago. Downstairs from the main living space is the actual restaurant and the large kitchen including a purpose built pizza oven. We spend a full day tidying up the space in preparation, and we get a fire going in the pizza oven in anticipation that it will be functioning perfectly on the day of the party. We are guided by text messages from a local pizza oven master on the best way to reignite the oven afters 18 years of sitting idle. And it works perfectly, there’s no fleeing of nesting birds or any other critters from the smoke and the heat. The heat radiates. We bank it up and close it down and hope that in the morning we have made a hearty bed of charcoals to facilitate perfect pizza production.

Our final day rolls around, the kitchen is prepared. We work on finishing setting up the space. There is constant communication back and forth of what other provisions will be brought, food, drink, sound equipments. We stoke the pizza oven and given it the first test run. Will it work? How long will it take? So many blind questions. The only way to find out is to put the theory to the test. A base is rolled, toppings applied, make-shift instruments made, and the tray is pushed into the centre of the oven, surrounded by a mound of brilliant orange embers. There’s no thermostat so we have no idea how hot the beast gets. It takes about 5-6 minutes, the pan is rotated, moved around and monitored. The Utopizza is born! And to our estimation, it was as perfect as it needed to be! As far as signs and portents go, this is a goodie.

The afternoon rolls, people start to arrive with food, drink, the DJ with a box of music, the sound system has a few bugs discovered and corrected. And the evening cranks into a party. The oven is in production, kids are in the kitchen making their own food, and the music starts. We are up first and we are warmly and generously welcomed. A few dance, people charge drinks, and we feel like we fit right in. It is a delightful thing. Wonderful conversations afterwards, people want to share there experience of us, sense is made across language divides, enthusiastic Italians with no english proclaim at length of the fun they had, alcohol is a good lubricant for language exchange. And then Polemica prepare to do their set. There’s an air of excitement for the lads of the local community and Hilary. They have just recently returned from a two week tour and are honed, great song writing, some really solid tunes, and a confident delivery. It is really very good. It is the first home show for some time and they are welcomed and the party ramps.

All finished. The community leave for home, the Dj plays the last reggae tune and powers down the system. We head off to bed for four hours sleep before we need to be up and off to catch the bus back to Rome’s airport.

Heading back towards the airport, sleep, snack, stare out the window listening to Leila Adu on headphones in this mist-lifting landscape, a fine musician and true internationalist, music for the world, skillful and hopeful. The warm weather undressed the night.

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Out of step to not Offset

If you have been following our tour diary, you will have picked up that we often comment on the environment, in all its beauty and/or visible degradation (or often invisibity due to the impenetrable smog).

Creative work generally has a low carbon footprint. However, it’s unarguable that hopping on a plane to tour your creative endevour generates a massive carbon footprint.

As creative workers, we wanted to attempt to offset our impact as best as possible. Our work is not more important than the sustained ongoingness of life on this globe.

For this tour we have chosen to utilise the services of Ekos, a NZ charity that produces internationally certified CO2 offsets from rainforest protection carbon conservation projects. When we offset our flight emissions with Ekos we supported the Rarakau Rainforest Conservation Project on Maori land in western Southland, Aotearoa NZ. And it was easy and affordable. Ekos also has certified rainforest protection carbon projects in several Pacific nations.

From the Ekos website:

“Most of us understand the need for infrastructure to support and enable our economy and wellbeing. Water, energy, waste management, transportation, communications, self defence… Without sufficient investments in infrastructure, the services we enjoy from them cannot endure.

Ecosystems are also ‘infrastructure’ – they provide beneficial services to our wellbeing. For example rainforests provide water quality, water supply, flood protection, drought mitigation, climate resilience, nutrient cycling, food fuel, and building materials. These services are central to our economy, and nature provides them for free – until we kill the geese that lay the golden eggs. A smart economy takes advantage of nature’s helpers by investing in their maintenance and durability.

The time has long past when we can rely on governments and voluntary organisations to meet our ecological infrastructure investment needs. Ekos enables visionary elements in the private sector to take on a game-changing leadership role in sustainable development through an approach based on carrots rather than sticks. An investment in nature is an investment in our common wellbeing.”

We hope other creative practitioners and festival organisers can hook up with a services like Ekos and make reducing their carbon footprint a regular and expected part of creative responsibility and activity. It is encouraging the hear that some big festivals are discussing with Ekos ways to minimise the environmental impact of their festival.


FYI: A couple of books have stretched our thinking about making bigger connections. Donna Harraway’s book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene stirred lots of conversations. She talks about how this new epoch, our current age, has been termed as the Anthropocene, the age where humanity-collective is responsible for the multi-environmental/multi-species damage. Harraway suggests this concept isn’t big enough, or accurate enough, and suggest that the term Capitalocene is more apt: that the fundamental driver of environmental and species damage done is the economic model of Capitalism in all it variants, not ALL humans. Naomi Klein also discusses the links between capitalism and climate change in her book, “This Changes Everything“. Klein also discusses the low-carbon footprint of creative work. Both books are well worth read.

Another typical story: a mosh pit in a Moroccan restaurant in Beijing

The sun touches the haberdashered suit hanging in the window. They are dry now. Last night they were sodden with sweet.

The sun touches eyelids sleeping on a Sunday floor. Warming them. The light projects redness to the retina and the brain responds. Waking.

The sky is blue. Good morning Beijing. The last morning. The next bed we wake on will be Italian. Ears singing tones of volume from the night before. There is a small presence of beer in the brain. Waking slowly, slowly.

Last night we saw stars in the skies above Beijing. Sparkles of ear rings for the Cheshire cat smile, that slender slip of a moon grinning down.

Sound resonates through the apartment walls, of hammering, of chairs being scrapped across floors, of small activities. The city sounds like wind. Maybe those are bird songs? Listen to industry,  maybe rubble being dumped, all the cars sound like one, the echoes of the petrol powered motorbikes throttle can be heard, the electric scooters are silent. Occasional car horns honk, so much less so than in other cities,  a lone call opens it throat and calls to others. There’s no ashvelt orchestra this morning. Waking more.

Flexing, feeling stiffness and muscular fatigue from days of lugging cases and playing shows. Arthritis says hi. The room is warmer. The last morning in China. Awake.

Last night was memorable. Someone commented on the spectacle we made; a mosh pit manifest in a Moroccan restaurant in Beijing. Is that not something spectacular?

Our show was held in a venue called Caravan, a Moroccan restaurant in Beijings embassy district. It is a regular restaurant by day. The owner, Badr, is a huge music fan and musician, and is committed to providing the space as a venue as well. He treats the performers excellently,  feeding all and providing a few drinks to boot. The show was opened by a local DJ Fido and followed by a three-piece called The Death Narcissist.

We arrived yesterday morning on the overnight train from Wuhan. The Beijing train terminals may be some of the busiest we’ve seen. We are being hosted by Susu and Dann from the local art/oddball group Guiguisuisui,  its unfortunate that we won’t get to see them play.

The accommodation could not be in a more perfect position,  centrally located to great eateries and Metro centres. We have the opportunity to wander around for the afternoon. Oddly down a back alley we find an english styled pub serving beer and chips with brown sauce, we partake.

But today is the last day of an exceptional ten day tour. There is one show to go and that will be at the artspace called Fruit Space. The show will be mid afternoon, and then from there we head to the airport and leave for Italy.

But first we go for a last lunch with Susu and Dann at a particularly flash vegetarian restaurant. An incredible array of tastes and textures finished with a spectacular ball made of white chocolate, surrounded by a moat of steaming liquid nitrogen. The ball is then shattered by one of the waitstaff to revel odd white chocolate breadlike sandwiches with a jam paste on the middle..we need to report that it looked better than it tasted. And then we leave our wonderful hosts and hitch a cab to Fruity Space.

The venue reminds of the venues back home such as Pyramid Club. Fruity is an underground facility which also supplies a bar and small zine and record store of local experimental items. Were are playing with two other acts. The first is a saxophone and noise collaboration,  the noise maker manipulates sounds made from two sheets of metal with contact microphones attached. Its less boisterous than we expected. Next is Wellington musician Dan Beban performing on a traditional local string instrument with another local on violin. Dan is currently on an artist in residence programme hosted at the Red Gate facility across town. We hoped to get out that way to explore but have run out of time. Then our turn. The set up is pleasing hut we are soon told then we need to turn down due to issues with volume. We take this in our stride and it doesn’t compromise the performance at all, in fact its quite fun playing with this enforced intimacy. There’s a lot of laughing and we enjoy the lighthearted end to our ninth and last show.

And thats it. Done. All thats left to do is pack our gear away in preparation for our impending longhaul flight. We have a couple of hours to kill so head for a last supper with our friends and beer.

We depart on our own by taxi, leaving behind new contacts and friends. We make our way the gargantuan Beijing airport. We have a long haul ahead of us. But behind us we have accumulated wonderful memories from and incredible eye-opening and challenging experience. It has been a truely immense pleasure to spend time in such fine company across this country. We feel this trip is a brilliant preparatory expedition in anticipation of returning sometime. It was that good!

Xie xie.

Fly through Wuhan

The morning after Nuts. A 6 hour bullet train ride is the method of momentum to assist our arrival in Wuhan. Wuhan, we are told, is the most punk of the Chinese cities in terms of music and venue. This message has been reiterated several times, along with the impression that it’s a brilliant fun place to play.

The train ride to Wuhan is beautiful, moving through the haze and the low cloud. Those impressions from old Chinese landscape painting in the flesh, in Terra and timber. Mountainous regions are cast with garden plots. Every portion of the land is used to produce food. On steep inclines and in the deep valleys, single or double story dwellings scatter through the landscape making up the villages and small cities free from skyscrapers.

And there are so many tunnels. Blackouts then flashes of beauty, then back to the black. A deep valley to the left holds major roads and homes, we must be high up. The core of many mountains have been drilled to make way for this transit network. When travelling at 140+ kph, the precision needed to ensure confidence and safety is mind bending.

We arrive in Wuhan, take the Metro into the city then take time to hail a cab to take us to the venue Coastlines. The city is built around rivers and long roads which are difficult to turn round on. We are meant to be at the venue at 5.30 and at 6.30 we are still stuck in traffic.

We find the venue located down a small side lane. Scratty in a cute way, it’s small and well equipped. Out in the back room we dump our gear between four 8 x 10 bass speaker cabinets and amps. We wonder if they hire stuff out or just got a bulk deal?

We get food in a tiny restaurant in the same lane. The owners are intrigued and quiz Kristen about us, what are we doing and how do we make a band work? It’s possible not many foreigners visit this eatery at all. We talk of inviting them to the show but they will still be working when we finish.

Even though the club is only a couple of hundred meters away from the restaurant the owners have never been in. They comment that they frequently see drunken foreigners late at night coming from there but have never felt like it was a venue for them.

There were to be three bands on the bill but one has cancelled due to injury. The first band is called Panic Worm. Their sound is great. Five guys playing post-punk sounds and the singer has studied the intonation of Mark E Smith of the Fall. We get the sense they are quite popular and they deserve to be.

The audience is really responsive to our set. There’s a lovely energy in the room to play with and we have a blast. Probably the most dancing since Guangzhou. There are more foreigners at this show than others as well, all young men in Wuhan teaching English.

One conversation sticks from a talk with a local. He says he’s a trained musician, works as a bass player, and comments on the ‘fun’ of our performance. He says how ‘fun’ is impossible for him. Making music has always been work,  and a sense of necessity was instilled from early on in life to work hard. ‘Playing’, or playfulness never led to success. He can see what he’s missing and not sure how to access it, even doubts it may be possible to relearn. He says he thinks this is something foreigners are better at. His denim jacket is covered in band patches, Slipknot and the like. You can see his interests, and also feel his resignation. We’re conscious to not be dismissive, or overly optimistic. His assessment may be correct for him? Hearing him out feels important.

We pack with a sense of urgency, we need to get back to the train station to catch the 01:40 sleeper to Beijing. And we don’t want to run.

We saw tiny bits of Wuhan, at night. Had a great time.

Depart on a train full of sleeping bodies.

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