This week’s photo essay is by Kristen Ng, a Chengdu-based promoter and musician who runs the offbeat touring label Kiwese, facilitates live music programming at NU SPACE Chengdu and performs electronic music as Kaishandao. She’s selected seven snaps from her recent nationwide tour with New Zealand’s The All Seeing Hand: hardcore slow train tour life.
Flecks of fried rice landed on my face as an old crackhead clasping armfuls of individually packaged mooncakes spat his way through telling me the Governor General of New Zealand was Maori. Friday night at Temple — one of the most notoriously intoxicated clubs in Beijing, the venue for the second show of the tour. Free entry. 10:30pm start. Harsh noise and epileptic lighting from Zpax preceded the thudding bogan rock of Hind Brain. The crackhead brought some wild dance moves to the occasion, along with a box of Ferrero Rochers that had materialized into his possession.
The All Seeing Hand dished out a late-night serving of drums, throat and turntables to a boozed and excitable crowd. Killer show. “I wonder if we’ll make the train on time,” I thought momentarily before jumping on a speaker and heckling them to play an encore. Activate: responsible tour manager. Encore granted. The crowd howled and headbanged with glee. Pack and go. Get in the van. Sweat and spilled beer. Beijing Train Station was dotted with sleeping workers bundled up like cocoons outside the ticket office, waiting for a shot at National Holiday Week train tickets.
We ran for the train and realized we’d lost Ben, the drummer. He got on five carriages back with his suitcase, cymbals and snare. 2:45am. Going straight from a gig at Temple onto a nine-hour overnight train to Inner Mongolia in hard seats. Hardcore. Above is a picture of Ben catching some zzz’s as we travel through the southern part of Inner Mongolia on the way to the next destination, Baotou.
TOUR TIP #1: You need a shenfenzheng (Chinese ID card) to order minivans on Didi (China’s Uber), but not with Shenzhou Zhuanche (a competing car-rental service).
B-Side China Podcast: Chengdu Underground with Kristen Ng
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