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.
It requires a fine balance of both meticulousness and recklessness to orchestrate six consecutive shows across four major cities during National Holiday Week. Luckily for us, meticulous recklessness is my forte.
Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan and Shanghai. Early morning starts and late night crashes. Train, van, soundcheck, show, pack down, party, repeat. We had entered full tour mode — speaking in jargon known only to us, wearing a rotation of the same clothes, living on a road diet of charity mooncakes and jinjiu. We were in the flow.
E N T would open with his masked, moody dronescapes. Kaishandao would cut through the ambience and drop the beat before The All Seeing Hand unleashed the three-headed throat-drum-turntable beast and incite hysteria. Then if turntables were available, Alphabethead would scratch up the dancefloor. Mercifully, the turnouts were great and the cash flow came in. Constant movement. Euphoric exhaustion. Mutual appreciation. The days existed in the three stages of hungover, hair of the dog and drunk, which in tour slang became “the hag,” “the de-hag” and “the re-hag.” Dinners were feasts. Stewed pork and tomato, fried mushrooms and lotus, Xinijang big-plate chicken, braised eggplant and spicy fish. Streetside snacks. Strong drinks. Cheap cigarettes. Crazy dancers. It’s all worth it for the crazy dancers.
Six nights non-stop = a remaining total of approximately two brain cells. A Mongolian baijiu session in the hotel was followed by Shanghai techno queen MIIIA taking us to Reel to Reel and partying till the early hours. Above is a photo from the following morning in the park next to Yuyintang that acts as a visual representation of me on tour: deranged rave baby teetering on a jagged rock.
TOUR TIP #4: Cheap thrills? Jinjiu is a traditional alcoholic beverage with medicinal properties available for 12RMB a bottle from basically any convenience store in China. More widely available than deodorant or tampons.