Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 19 2006

I went down to the Huashan Arts Center on Bade Roa…

I went down to the Huashan Arts Center on Bade Road Friday night to see Shengxiang, Takashi and Ken play. They’re halfway finished with the renovation of the old place, so there are some nice walkways and spaces, but still lots of (re)construction going on. The building Trees Music was using for the performances had a new roof, but everything else inside was still old and decrepit, chipped tiling covered with grafitti. There was no glass in the windows, so the wind and rain blew in, dampening the sound equipment. Electrical lines lay in puddles, and a small waterfall ran down the inside of the wall just behind the stage. Every so often during a performance, a pack of wild dogs would run past just outside the window behind the performance area. A large metal fence with “Taiwan High Speed Rail” printed on it kept some, but by no means all of the construction noise out. In short it was a perfect setting for a Muddy Basin Ramblers gig. Fortunately, we were on the billing for Saturday night.

Unfortunately, when it came time for me to set out for the sound check on Saturday afternoon, it was pouring rain, and it took me forever to find a cab. When I did finally hail one, I almost wish I hadn’t, for it was, verily, the stinkiest taxi I have ever had the displeasure to witness. The reason for the odor became apparent once we set off: in the passenger seat sat a woman apparently devoted to making the interior of the car as odiferous as possible. I don’t know who she was, the cabbie’s mother, his wife, sister, demonic master, or what. I couldn’t open my mouth to ask. Every few minutes she would let one off, causing me to gag and try to open the window a bit more, though the deluge prevented me from opening it more than a few inches. So I sat, my face at the window getting splattered with rain, trying to breathe as little as possible, all the way from Xindian to the Arts Center downtown.

I staggered into the performance space (I can’t really call it a real building as it was lacking certain things that make up a real building, like walls) just in time for the end of the soundcheck. I was furious and it showed, though the sheer ludicrousness of the situation almost made me laugh in spite of it all.

After the sound check, we had several hours to entertain ourselves, as the show was supposed to be at 8pm. The Betelnut Bros. were there as well, and the schedule was changed so that they went on earlier and us later. In the meantime, Slim, Thumper and I went down to a Dante Cafe for lunch, while Sandman and Conor went home.

I met Corey, who was there not only for the show but to photograph us as well (the papers usually use bad, out-of-date photos with their stories), out in front of the arts center, and we talked shop for a bit before going back in to the space. He lined us up against the wall, revolution-style, and shot us in several interesting poses. The results, as you can see above, look very cool. Now all we need is an album so we can use them on the cover.

A traditional Taiwanese group had been playing that afternoon, after which the Betelnut Bros. took the stage and rocked the house. The audience was half locals, who sat in chairs, and foreigners, who stood around the periphery for the most part. A good crowd, considering the price of the tickets and the weather. One of the betelnut Bros. asked me if we had a bass. I tried to explain the concept of the washtub, but he said in protest, “No, it’s too complicated!” He later confessed that he had tried to play just such an instrument when he was a kid, with mixed results.

I had a good feeling about our show even before it started. I was nervous, but it was a good kind of nervous. We knew all the songs, we now have a kick-ass violin player (Zoe), and we were playing mere inches away from our literal namesake. In fact, the show went off even better than I expected, though some of the combined songs we did with the Betelnut Bros. were kind of messy due to our unfamiliarity with their songs, and theirs with ours. All in all, though, I thought it was one of the best shows we’ve ever done.

After the show we stood around and talked. Well, most of the others did; I just walked around feeling happy about the performance. The Trees people were closing down, however, so we gathered up our stuff and walked through the rain to get taxis. Slim and Thumper knew a DJ who has a nice basement pad to hang out at, so we were there and sat around talking until the wee hours of the morning. It was a nice, mellow way to come down off the high of the performance.

It was still raining when I got up this morning, so I worked on rewriting my book a little, got a little video editing done…couldn’t stand being cooped up so I took a walk in the hills near where I live. As I did so, the clouds broke up, leaving the day with bits of sunset. I walked back down Yongye Road, taking a few pictures as I did so, but nothing really special. I ate dinner while watching the second XXX movie. It was…tolerable I guess. If it didn’t have Ice Cube, who is, of course, one of the world’s top ten sexiest men, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

So that was my weekend. Could have been more productive, but the weather lately hasn’t been very conducive to getting my ass out of the house. Maybe next weekend we’ll get some movie work done.

posted by Poagao at 3:24 pm  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment