Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 13 2009

A rather frantic weekend

I had to catch a bullet train down to Chiayi on Saturday afternoon for a gig with the Muddy Basin Ramblers that night. I was the first person on the platform at Taipei Main Station, even though the train was leaving in 15 minutes, leading me to wonder if I’d have to run through a wall or something to reach the real platform, but soon enough other passengers began to appear, the other Ramblers among them. Chenble, who was along for the ride, got sandwiches for the trip, which was quick and smooth as always. With the exception of Taipei, the stations are all nice, modern, gleaning examples of what I love about airports, though they are just glorified train stations. They’re simply swank where no swankiness was expected, which in my opinion is the best kind of swank.

Some people from the music festival were waiting for us at Chiayi Station, and we crammed all our stuff into a new VW van (It’s amazing that VWs still smell the same; every Volkswagen I’ve encountered since the 1970’s has had that same distinctive smell). We drove out to the coastal village of Budai, followed closely by dark clouds though the sun was still shining, and dropped our stuff off at the wharf where we were going to be playing later. After the careful consumption of some very fresh sushi, it was time to explore the surroundings, which consisted mainly of a fish market and a 7-Eleven.

Thumper and I happened upon a go-kart track and decided to give it a go. An employee dragged out what looked like a prototype for a miniature version of Mad Max for Thumper’s larger frame, while I managed to fit in one of the regular cars, and we were off. For a while we traded places, but every time Thumper pulled ahead of me I was choking on the cloud of smoke and bits of rubber his car was emitting, so I gave up all pretenses of sportsmanlike behavior and stayed ahead of him for the rest of the 10 minutes. I found that I really didn’t have to touch the brake pedal, which was wrapped about my ankle due to bad planning; all I had to do to slow down was turn the wheel enough that the front wheels began sliding.

Lightning was flashing on the horizon as the time for our show approached. The organizer, a woman whose hairstyle suggested she had already encountered some form of electrical discharge, said that we’d be playing until 8:45, though I’d been promised that we’d be done at 8:30, because I had to scram by then to make my gig with Heineken in Kaohsiung later that night.

The show itself went pretty well, considering our lack of practice in recent weeks. At a couple of points some official would jump on stage in between numbers to make a speech or hold a raffle. I began to think that it was more of a raffle featuring music than a real concert. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have minded this, but time was short and I had to go. As I resisted the thought of tackling said official and thus ending their speech, David asked me if I wanted to leave early, but I said I’d stick around until we were done.

After the show, I felt a little guilty about jumping off the stage straight into the waiting car without a word to anyone else, but I had a train to catch. Luckily the driver was a local who knew the back roads well enough to get me to the station in 15 minutes instead of the 40 minutes we’d been told the trip would take, and we caught the 9:30 to Kaohsiung with enough time to spare to grab some dinner at a Mos Burger.

The Heineken gig was at Kaohsiung’s Pig & Whistle, near the harbor. I was led upstairs by Small Eyes, an intern for the group, to find the band lazing around the green room, already nicely sauced for the show if the amount of empty glasses and pitches of various liquors on the table was anything to go by. I’d changed into my green outfit on the train, so I was good to go.

Or so I thought. It turned out that some changes to the program had been made, so I got a new setlist from Small Eye. When I got on stage for my first trumpet song, I found that my mic wasn’t working. I tapped it: nothing. I tapped it again, and it fell to the floor. I picked it up and tried to reattach it, and the clip fell in two pieces. All on stage, during the piece, as Ah-ji and Ah-zheng laughed behind me. Since my part was coming up and I had no amplification over the other electric guitars, drums and keyboard in a loud bar, I forgot about the mic and just blasted it as loud as I could, marching-band stadium style. It seemed to work, but damn, it’s been a while since I’ve had to do that.

Later in the set, Noname launched into Zhang Zhenyue’s “Freedom” much earlier in the show, just after a song I played trumpet for, so I decided to play along, though I usually don’t play on that song. This also seemed to work. It was hard to say as I couldn’t really hear myself.

It was early morning before we finished, as usual. Noname had hired a bus to take us back to Taipei, but it wouldn’t be arriving until 3 a.m., meaning getting back to Taipei around 9 a.m. This prospect didn’t appeal to me very much, and I intended to attend Henry Westheim’s studio opening in Taichung the following evening, so I decided to stay in a hotel in Kaohsiung instead. Chenble had a contact at the King Town or something near the train station, so we got the last room available, a small niche with no windows just above the buffet room.

Brunch the next day was free, but it took forever as Chenble seemed to want to eat the entire thing. By the time we managed to leave the hotel, it was early afternoon and raining outside. A ride on the KRT later we were at one of the stations with waterfalls complementing the surrounding downpour. As we waited for it to stop, I took a few pictures of the place, mostly in black and white. I don’t particularly care for the colors of the Panasonic LX3, and find myself using the black & white function most of the time.

We walked over the Love River and got tickets for a river cruise just as a bus full of tourists pulled up, dozens of people pouring over into the line. Several boats motored over from underneath a nearby bridge, where they had been huddling during the rain. the sun came out in full force until brilliant blue skies, and it was a pleasant enough ride, but far too short; I don’t know why they don’t go further up the river; perhaps things don’t smell as good up there.

We walked along the river a little, but time got away from me, and before I knew it, it was time to go. I’d wanted to attend the studio opening, but by the time we returned to the hotel, gotten all my stuff, gotten back on the KRT to Zuoying, it was nearly 8 p.m. already. I was tired from the gigs and the walking, so I decided to just come straight back to Taipei instead.

posted by Poagao at 6:05 pm  

1 Comment »

  1. fun 🙂

    Hopefully someday I’ll get to have a frantic weekend like yours too rather than just reading about it and go “aww I wish i was there”.

    i do that alot.. 😀

    Comment by Mo — July 17, 2009 @ 8:27 am

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