Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 24 2005

Earth Day gig

keep going
Originally uploaded by Poagao.

I thought it would be hot on Saturday, but it was cool and misty as Sandman and I set out from Bitan, loaded with our gear, to a mountain retreat near Hoho Cafe in Waishuangxi that afternoon. We got off the MRT and hailed a cab, telling the driver only to go ‘up’, as we didn’t know the address. So up we went. And up, and up. After a long drive along switchbacks, we arrived to find Thumper, Slim and Conor just arriving as well. Then David, with Robyn and his mother in tow, appeared trudging up the road on foot, for some reason.

The place we were playing, along with many other bands such as Boogie Chillin, looked like the only things it was missing were a South American drug lord and armed guards strolling alongside the pool. It was a large place with many rooms all covered by a vaulted ceiling reminiscant of those “towns” you see in Disney theme-parks, and overlooked a great view down to the city.

As soon as we set our stuff down and the others went to start drinking, etc., I ran into a guy who works at my company. He and his family were definitely not expecting the sudden influx of people, and wondered what was going on. He had no idea I was in a band.

I went around taking odd pictures while the first few acts played, helping myself to some home-made carrot cake and Sangrias. The event didn’t seem to have anything at all to do with Earth Day; it was more like a coincidental excuse to have a party. Occasionally a singer or organizer would mention The Environment, but aside from that, it was just a relaxed party atmosphere.

Dusk fell, and the city lit up in the basin below as we warmed up in a nearby shed inhabited by two dogs. Appropriately enough, the white dog was friendly and stupid, while the black dog bared its teeth, growled and huddled in the corner as we played. The old, “good dog/bad dog” trick, it would seem.

The stage was bigger than anyplace we’ve played at before. I wasn’t used to all the space, but it was nice to be able to move around without constantly bumping into each other. The sound guy kept on top of the situation, letting us use a wireless mic under the tub bass. The place was really loud due to all the hard surfaces, and I could barely hear myself on some of the songs. But all in all, it was a great show, quick and tight. Probably our best yet.

Afterwards I chatted with Robyn and Mrs. Chen, who not only had never heard her son David perform, she didn’t even know he could play a guitar! Needless to say, she seemed a bit flabbergasted. The pasta had a two-hour wait and the place had run out of beer, so David, Robyn and Mrs. Chen left early. I’d just ordered dinner, though, and I wanted to hear Boogie Chillin, ’cause they rock.

I sat out on the balcony after finishing a delicious fillet of fish and caramel tea that tasted just like one of upside-down puddings you get at 7-Eleven here. All of the other Ramblers were off somewhere, so I took some pictures of the table, admired the view, and thought to myself that things were pretty much perfect.

The police came in response to complaints about the noise, even in that remote area, and then Boogie Chillin came up. They had rocked the house for about half of their act when the electricity died, and we all sat still for a moment, confused in the darkness. Then the sax player started up on a freestyle jam. The drummer joined in, and the crowd screamed even louder. I went and got my trumpet and joined in, as the sax player couldn’t last forever on his own. Other players joined as well, and we got a smooth horn section going on. I was resting for a moment when a girl from the audience screamed “trumpet!” It was one of the few intelligable things to come from the audience that night.

“Yes! This is a trumpet!” I responded. Well, it was dark.

Pretty soon we learned that the wife of the place’s owner had been spooked by the police visit and had yanked our power. She was demanding that the show stop, even though her husband said it was ok.

So that was that. We packed up but were too high to want to go home, so we all piled into the Thumpermobile, turned the stereo to loud and sailed up into the clouds of Yangmingshan, stopping along the way just long enough to buy drinks and arouse a bit of suspicion on the part of the local police.

We ended up at Qingtiangang, in the middle of dense fog. Coffee stands glowed in the parking lot. We took our drinks and walked a ways into the mountains, which smelled of grass and wet cows. There we stood on the path and chatted, still excited about the performance. Every once in a while, even at that late hour, a group of two or three hikers would approach and pass us, and every time this happened, we would break out in song. I can only imagine what they were thinking to come across a group of foreigners, all wearing hats (except for Conor), wearing suits, holding bottles and singing blues songs in the mist. One group of young men pounced on us after we finished lighting incense for the Earth God at a nearby temple. “You are very dashing! You scared us!” they shouted drunkenly. Conor took a picture with them, and we decided we’d had enough of the misty mountainside for that night.

On the twisty, foggy road down the mountain, the Thumpermobile’s windshield was almost opaque with condensation, but when I noted this fact, everyone seemed to feel that there were worse ways to leave this world than flying over a cliff in a van with your bandmates. As David wasn’t there, however, we decided not to try it just yet, and continued back down into our muddy basin.

It was after 3 when I finally got home. An amazing, crazy, great day by any account.

In other news, it’s been four whole years since I began writing this account. Back then I was still talking about “rolls of film” and “The China Post”. Hold on, the China Post is still around. Well, anyway…four years. Wow.

posted by Poagao at 9:16 am  

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