Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 03 2006

It’s been very hot lately, a true Taiwan summer, u…

It’s been very hot lately, a true Taiwan summer, unlike the last few years, when the weather was all screwy. The weekend was full of events, as we had gigs at Da-an Park on Saturday for Canada Day and then at the American Club on Sunday. Sandman and I took a cab from Bitan and found the sound people running a bit late, so we retired to the somewhat air conditioned green room backstage, where a friend of ours was squeezing lemons and mint to make mojitos. The drinks came out surprisingly well, and I had more than my fair share over the next couple of hours while the first groups began to play. Fortunately, by the time our turn came, the sun had set and the heat abated somewhat, but I was a bit sloshed and kept knocking things over on stage. David would be announcing something, i.e. “Our next piece is by a little known gentleman from Mississippi known as-” BANG! I knocked over David’s water, creating a puddle, and then a mic from its stand. The performance went well, though. At least I think it did.

After we played, the last band, Milk, went on. They were all dressed in leather and masks. Apparently they’ve been around for a long time, longer than we have, but I’d never seen them before. Besides the musicians on stage, there were also two other people, one guy and one girl, who just danced around. I wondered if they were considered full band members or just stage dressing. They did do their part for the show, though. Milk’s first set had a lot of covers, and I wasn’t too impressed, but after an intermission featuring an acapella group named The Scooters, they came back with an impressive jumping, dance-inducing second set.

My stomach had been bothering me all day, so I hadn’t really eaten anything. Shirzi, Chris and I lugged all my equipment over to Alleycat’s for pizza. Along the way we met Banjoe, who was playing at the Yongkang Park. He saw my washtub and stick and asked if I was trying to make a washtub bass. I said I was.

“That will never work,” he said, and went into a long, detailed rant concerning how the shape, material and nature of the plastic tub would never a washtub bass make.

“It seems to work ok,” I said. “The plastic is pretty resonant, more so than many other materials.”

“Entirely wrong, but well said,” he replied. I decided to leave it at that.

We got a confused server at Alleycat’s who didn’t understand the concept of lactose intolerance on Chris’ part, so the pizza was late in coming, but nice when it came. Or so I thought at the time. Later that night it came back to haunt me, on multiple occcasions.

The Ramblers, minus Thumper, had elected to meet at the Yuanshan MRT station to catch a cab or two to the American Club, which I’ve only been to once before, in the company of former ICRT manager Carleton Baum, many years ago. On this occasion, it felt like boarding a cruise ship, navigating the treacherous seas of Taiwanese society on the behalf of its precious passengers. We were ushered through tastefully decorated hallways, by the pool and upstairs to a conference room, where we were served finger food while we warmed up and waited. The others wandered away while I took random pictures of water drops on the soft-drink bowl. Slim came back saying that he got a warning about carrying a beer around with him, as it was “supposed to be a family affair”.

By the time we got on stage, most of the poolside tables were filled. It was clear only a few people had ever heard of us, but they seemed to like what we did. But it was a hard gig, one of the hardest I’ve done. For one thing it was hot, made even hotter not only by the stage lights shining just behind us, but also the sight of the pool filled with frolicking American progeny just before us. We were all sweating profusely, and sweat-covered buttons and valves were a problem for both Sandman and me. Thumper’s absence meant that most of the timekeeping responsibility fell on my shoulders, and I think it pretty much worked most of the time. I screwed once or twice during my solos, and bass wasn’t miced, so I had a hard time hearing myself.

Every few seconds someone would cross in front of the stage with a plate full of heaped barbequed hamburgers, cole slaw, shrimp, potato salad, and many other delicious-looking treats. Indeed, the food was the main star of the evening, not us. Even after we had just left the stage, the MC went up and said, “How about that food, folks!”

At one point a frail-looking older fellow got up on stage and sang the national anthem. He did a good job, belting it out in a much stronger voice than he looked capable of. At another point they announced the results of a raffle, which consisted of prizes that must have been pocket change for most of the people there. Canned drumrolls and prerecorded applause made it seem just a little pathetic, I have to say, but I suppose they were doing what they could with what they had.

Brian Asmus treated us to drinks at the bar afterwards, which was nice. People who seemed confused about us upon our arrival now had a better grasp on who we were and what we did, so in general our departure was a bit friendlier than our reception. I caught a cab featuring a sniffling, twitchy driver with Sandman and Slim back to Bitan, dropping Slim off on the way.

My new place is pretty much set up, with a few piles of detrius here and there that still need to be taken care of. The whole incident and moving came as a shock, and I’m still getting used to the place. I’ve got some pictures up on flickr.

posted by Poagao at 9:21 am  

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