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!
It’s a two hour train ride fron Chengdu to Chongqing. We go to grab a cab from the queue. We avoid the ‘dark taxis’, the independent operators. Kristin relays stories of passengers being ripped off, and of massive delays and unpredictable travel times. We’re get our cab and deftly load in gear, this game of physical tetris is impressive.
That is until the front corner of our cab kisses the back end of another. Then our travel stops as a heated debate ensues on the main thoroughfare. Offers of cigarettes to offset the damage are handed through windows. The arguement is over a slight graze to the back of the front cab, which to be fair to our driver, is barely noticeable. Haggling escalates over money to pay for repairs. There’s no police but a gathering crowd watches the entertainment.
Face needs to be saved and we’re unsure whose going to win. Our driver gets back behind the wheel, drives half a block then ejects us onto the side of highway. It’s like being dropped in the middle of a motorway intersection. The two cabs then leave for a panel beaters and we’re left trying to hail another ride in a spaghetti of roads. We walk a bit, the god of taxis smiles and we hail a ride.
Chongqing is a major city located on a rolling landscape. It looks more liberal on a first impression, outwardly affluent with a very busy CBD of highrise and lightshows. It’s not a long walk from our taxi departure to NUTS Livehouse, tonight’s venue, located in the heart of a massive shopping complex.
Nuts is a large space, a long established venue in the Chongqing music scene. Stickers adorn everywhere of local bands, punk and otherwise, and there’s a graffiti wall outside the venue which includes a large tag from Orchestra of Spheres.
It’s a welcoming venue, supplying fruit and beer to the performers, super helpful sound techs and great gear. We’re playing with one other local band called You Come Twice, with a guitar/bass/drum/electronics arrangement. It’s an early in the week show, a big band from Japan played the night before, and elsewhere in town is a German punk band who we seem to be shadowing across China. Our turnout was decent though. We all felt warmly received and had plenty of great conversations afterwards.
We spent the night at a backpackers. Initially it looked like there was no room at the inn but the reception staff were brilliant at locating a second, and most welcome, option, when our booking got eaten by the booking system.