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Archive for September, 2011

After years of hard work, the 2nd episode of East Side Buffet: 3rd Anniversary Season Edition is here. This might be the last one. It’s taken so long I grew a beard, shaved it and grew another one. We recommend watching it in one sitting while at work.

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I was going to write a review of this show, but I didn’t so just some pics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends from college opened the show, John Gnorski and Jeff Brodsky AKA Wet Wool. They were pretty awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AU played.

Then Nurses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Go Vote (and pass around)

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Day 8

 Abe knocks on our door to wake us up. He’ll fly Jeff and myself to Wuhan with Xiao He, but Dave and he will skip the show and take a train to Shanghai. Personally I don’t want to fly to Wuhan. I hate flying. I try to convince Abe not to send me. If he can barely afford to send us, shouldn’t he save some money and not send me. He books my plane ticket anyway.

We have some time in the morning so we grab a cab to the park where we climb some stairs and get a view of the Forbidden City from above. I buy a bunch of playing cards to distribute to friends back home: “The Emperors of China” – “A History Of Mao” etc.

….

We walk back to the hotel. Abe puts Jeff and I in a cab to the airport. We’re supposed to meet Xiao He at the gate to the flight and he will help us get to the club and then get our train the day to Shanghai. Jeff and I arrive at the airport and have a yummy beef soup with noodles at restaurant near our gate.

….

Boarding starts and there is no sign of Xiao He. I suppose we’ll just have to board. Our drummer missed and EasyJet flight once so we call him EasyJet sometimes when he’s late for stuff or wonders off at inappropriate times. We’ll have to start calling Xiao He China-Eastern

Jeff and I board and take our seats. Over the loud speak there is an announcement in Chinese. It sounds like the say Xiao He’s name. Are they looking for him? Will they offload his bags? Then there is a pre-recorded announcement in English about taking your seats quickly. Then the Chinese announcement and again it sounds like they say Xiao He’s name, then the English announcement. I guess Xiao He’s name just sounds like a word that might mean “Please Take Your Seat.” Finally we see him boarding with his guitar in tow. Whew. Later I ask him what his name means, and he says it means “Little River” So no answers there.

The flight is less than 2 hours, but they serve us a meal. Even though Jeff and I just ate a huge bowl of beef noodle soup we never turn our nose up at some free food. The food is bad but we eat some of it anyway. When we arrive we’re not sure if the club has a car waiting for us or not. We give Abe a call who says we should take a taxi to the club and it’ll be about an hour. We grab a cab, but it’s so small we barely fit. The trunk is mostly taken up by some sort of fuel tank. We have so much stuff between the three of us it seems we’ll need two cabs. But instead we all cram in with instruments on our laps and buckle down for a hot uncomfortable hour drive into the city of Wuhan. We try to talk a bit with Xiao He but it’s a little difficult as he speaks only a little bit of English.

The city looks a little like Las Vegas, lots of lights and billboards, neon palm trees and all. We arrive at the bar which is a small little divey place.

…..

There are lots of street food venders setting up along the main street. They’ve booked our hotel room right next door to the club. We meet Wayne. She is our local promoter and a friend of Abe’s. She will give us our train tickets for Shanghai.

We’re playing first tonight as Xiao He is the draw tonight. The crowd is more mixed with locals and Westerners. Jeff and I do a pretty good duo show and meet some English and Scottish fans. Two guys traveled from an hour away to catch the show.  Xiao He plays and destroys the crowd. He is in full command tonight.

……

He is pedal FX/loop master as well as a very good singer and guitar player. His music reminds me mostly of a one-man band version of Akron Family. I take a lot of video of the final show we do with him. I’ll post some of it here.

Not sure it captures it but close enough. He’ll do long sound textures builds and then sing on top. He has a midi control set up to his guitar and he can turn his guitar sound into a drum sound or piano or into other songs. One “song” he does each night is samples from popular or cheesy Chinese songs, that people laugh at and sing along to. Each time he plays a string it’s a sample of a different song. On the last night he plays them all at once which makes for a cool sound collage.

After he plays the crowd cheers. (maybe 50-70 people) They come say hi to him afterward. One woman is so moved she is crying.

…..

I bring some of our stuff up to the hotel room. When I return Xiao He calls me over to get paid. I count the cash with him and go over some of the costs. He hands me three drink tickets and takes one back for himself. I’m too tired to have two drinks so I offer him one, but he declines. I don’t end up getting a drink and stuff the tickets in my back pocket.

Outside I go looking at all the street food options. It all looks delicious. I end up getting some fried rice with beef.

It’s very good. I head upstairs. In China I’ve been told to avoid tap water and so I’ve been brushing my teeth with bottled water.

Which I’ve forgotten to get. So I go back downstairs. I see Wayne and say goodbye. I ask her if she has the train tickets and she says she’s given them to Xiao He. The train is at 8:30 AM so we’ll meet Xiao he in the lobby at 7 AM to get a cab. I have no idea how far the train station is, but it sounds fine to me.

Day 9

I’ve set the alarm for 6:30. At 6:30 the alarm goes off and I try to hit snooze. But instead I must have turned it off because the next thing I hear is the phone in the room ringing. Luckily Xiao He was able to get our room number and call and wake us up. It’s 7:10. We quickly pack and head out to grab a cab. The cabs are hard to get. But finally one stops. Again is very small and has some sort of gas tank in the back. It’s very hot even at 7:30 in the morning, so Xiao He hails another cab. He tells our driver to take us to the train station. This is a very bad plan. We never should have split up.

We drive maybe 20 or 30 minutes in typical crazy Chinese taxi driving weaving in and out of lanes and using the horn when he should use the brake. The driver lets us off on a street across from what looks like a station of some kind. He motions to us that we need to use the underground walkway to cross the street. We don’t see Xiao He. It’s 8 AM. We don’t know if his cab was right behind us.

We wait there for a few minutes hoping Xiao He will arrive. He doesn’t so we take the underground passageway to the other side. We see a sign that points to a “Long Distance Bus,”  but no sign for the train station? Are we in the right place?

Did the driver not hear what station to take us too? There are no signs in English. My phone hasn’t worked since I got here to China but I try texting Abe. We drag our bags around the station looking for train station signs and Xiao He. We find neither.

We’re pretty fucked I assume. We’ll miss the train to Shanghai, and be trapped here for days (or perhaps just a few hours we don’t know).

I frantically try to find a Westerner to ask about the train station. There are none. I start asking Chinese people. Finally one guy says the train station is up the escalator. There is no sign that says this in English. We take the escalator up and aha there’s Xiao He. Whew. We enter the train station. And go to the waiting area. I ask Xiao He for our train tickets. “I gave them to you last night” He says. “No I never got them I say” I start going through my pockets. I don’t remember getting train tickets. I open all my bags I can’t find them. It looks like we’ll be stuck here after all. Tickets? When did he give me the … drink tickets. He gave me drink tickets. AAAAAA. I reach into my back pocket and find what could have been drink tickets but are actually train tickets. I could have easily crumpled them up and thrown them away at the hotel. AAAAA. Well I guess you might call all this good luck.

We get on the train which is very nicely air conditioned and settle in for the 5 hour trip to Shanghai. I listen to different podcasts WTF, Savage Love and Judge John Hodgeman. I’ve been having a big argument with Jeff about the October UK tour. My friend Lily from college is getting married around the time that our tour is supposed to end and I want to attend. But Jeff says we can’t miss booking that last day of tour, because it’s on a Saturday. I’ve typed up my arguments and sent them to the Judge Hodgeman podcast a few days earlier. Their producer Julia got in touch with me and said they were interested in having us on the podcast, but it would be difficult with the time difference and lack of phone. Still last night in the hotel I was able to call Julia through G-chat/gmail and we thought maybe it could work in the next week.

….

We arrive in Shanghai and Abe is there to meet us. He takes us to hour hotel. Dave is gone out and about walking around. Abe takes us for a walk and out then out to eat. Xiao He shows Jeff how to write his name in Chinese. It starts pouring rain. We grab a cab back to the hotel and then walk to the venue which isn’t too far. This show can make or break the finances of the trip.

We have a good soundcheck (shirtless again)

……

and Jeff and I go off for a walk. He wants dumplings. We don’t find anything, but there’s some sort of fast food asian restaurant across from the club. Jeff thinks they have dumplings. We enter and try to ask for dumplings to go, but they don’t speak English and have no idea what we’re saying. I can see that everyone eating here is soup, it’s a Hot Pot place. Hot Pot restaurants have a cauldron of boiling water at each table. They bring you raw ingredients like chicken beef, veggies, sauces, noodles and you cook your own soup. I only know this because I did it once with Marci in Portland. It was quite good. I know we can’t do Hot Pot to go so I tell Jeff we should go. We walk out the door, but the server woman calls after us “Veggie, meat” Jeff goes back in to try and get some dumplings to go. I go to the club.

It doesn’t seem that busy and I’m worried. Abe asks where Jeff is I say he’s across the street trying to get dumplings to go Abe laughs and says that would be impossible he goes over to help Jeff. It turns out that when Jeff tried getting dumplings to go they instead gave him a bag of meat and veggies to take away. Abe sort of saved him by convincing him to sit down and eat there.

Back at the club people start pouring in. Whew

………..

Three French people come to the door. “Do we get a free drink with a ticket” They ask.

No. They leave.

We play a pretty good show for a packed house of about 230. People dance. We sweat. It’s good. Near the end of the set one American guy shouts at Jeff and tells him he has to play the History of Communism in China. He’d seen Jeff do it in Beijing and come back to see it again. Jeff refuses. Later the same guy come by the merch table. He’s disappointed he says. “I understand you guys like to play different sets, but you guys gotta play the hits” He also says he’s our only groupie. He also says he runs the Noisepop festival in San Francisco.

Day 10

Abe comes to get us at the hotel in the morning, we go out to eat and head for the train. When we arrive Abe gets train tickets, but says it’ll be three hours until the train. We settle down. We’re told there’s an internet café in the station and Abe goes off to look for it. It’s kind of nice having a little time to settle down and catch our breath and do some net stuff in a nice air conditioned place.

But NO. All of a sudden there is a bus we must catch so we can get to soundcheck so we race through the station to some other station dragging our bags, completely annoyed and frustrated. We get on a bus and 2 hours later we’re in the next city for our final show. But when we arrive at the venue it’s a restaurant and there is no soundcheck, so we go to the hotel, annoyed tired. Then we go out to eat.

………..

It’s a big meal with Abe and the local promoters and some other friends. After we hurry out of the restaurant. In the street we’re told to hustle. I guess it turns out they did a dash and dine. Ug. Not really my idea of a fun time.

We return to the venue for soundcheck, but no, there is still no soundcheck a local musician plays acoustic cover songs of Oasis, The Doors, and more to an empty room.

And so I take a nap.

Eventually we set up to play/soundcheck. The show is one of our best, but I’m sad because we don’t record it. ARg. Xaio He has forced us all to drink a lot before, but we don’t drink as much as he does. He doesn’t appear drunk, but he plays for a very long time. It is cool, but long. I shoot a lot of video of his show.

Here it is. It’s not his best show, but it does display why is so awesome.

After the show Xiao he is sad to say goodbye to us.

………

We return to the hotel for a little sleep.

Side Note: When we return to Shanghai after our 3 day Korea tour to pick up our bags from Abe, he tells us this:

There was a man from the local government at the show recording out set. He wasn’t happy that we hadn’t submitted our songs/lyrics gotten official approval from the local government. On the wall outside the room is a poster advertising out show along with an up-coming show for a Mongolian band.

That show we are told had to be canceled. (though it was just for that venue, supposedly the only venue in town). Abe also tells us there are no stricter rules for foreign bands playing Shanghai. Each must pay $300 for an official to check their lyrics.

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