Alev Tour Diary 2006
From Music-China Wiki
Alev China Tour Diary, April 18th – May 2nd 2006
Official website of the band: www.a-l-e-v.de
Read their impressions and feel their experiences in China. Translation by Azchael.
April 18th 2006 Somewhere over Saudi-Arabia
We (Alex, Saner, Patrick, Martin and Bärchi – the band, Dirk – a friend, Entertainy and Marco – the film team) are in the plane to Dubai, where we’re going to stop over. We feel very good: delicious food from the menu, Vodka-Orange en mass, a personal TV set with remote control, playing games with the seat neighbours – we’re happy! Another 10 hours flight ahead of us.
April 19th 2006 Shanghai
We fall dead as a stone into our beds. After a 24-hour travel, a warm welcome by Benson and Hedges, meeting our China manager Niki, a unbelievable trip with the transrapid (maglev train) running at 430 km / h and a tasty large Chinese dinner, we more than glad to stay in a clean and comfortable hotel in downtown Shanghai. We take a rest (now we’re 11 people), as tomorrow’s our first gig.
April 20th 2006 Shanghai – Shuffle
Still feeling the jet lag we walk from our hotel to nearby Shuffle Bar. The Shuffle Bar is a stylish club, which seems to be going to attract more Europeans than Chinese. Therefore we play our first China gig in front of mostly German audience. Unfortunately the club isn’t as crowded as expected… where are the 1.4 billion Chinese?
Dirk sells T-Shirts at the entrance. Benson & Hedges (both Chinese) do not need to translate during this evening.
Afterwards we drink soy beer (16% alc.) in a Chinese restaurant! Soy beer tastes crazy! As soy sauce with alcohol!
Benson experiences his first flush (drunk!) and Hedges carries Benson to the hotel …
21st April 2006 Shanghai – Live Bar
With in total 3 cabs we’re going to the more distant “Live Bar”.
Immediately on arrival we feel comfortable in this club! A real rock club! J
The owner is in a very good mood and helps us as best as he can.
As both backline and PA are very “special” we generate a real dirty “Queens of the Stone Age” sound and have a lot of fun with our new Alev sound!
This time more Chinese came, a very successful evening!
At 5 o’clock in the morning we stop over at the hotel as we have to depart for the airport at 6 o’clock …
22nd April 2006, Guangzhou – Bunker
In the South of China, beautiful weather (though it is not possible to see either sky or sun, due to the smog), 32 degrees.
The hotel is (again) terrific! We were expecting the worst locations, but here we’re living in the 32nd floor with a view on Guangzhou; not to mention the gigantic comfortable beds.
We meet Leila, whom we’ve contacted via myspace beforehand. He helps us with translations wherever she can.
After a long shower we’re heading to the bunker. Alex and Martin sleep on a leather coach, while I (Patrick) try to become a good friend of the PA… the mixing board is fairly old and the channels are only working sometimes. Even more complicating the issue is the technician, who changes proudly my previously set channels.
After a loud “Don’t touch!” also this problem is solved. Bärchi (Niki, our drummer) builds a Hi-Hat machine using cable tape and other auxiliaries and somehow the sound is ready after three hours!
Worth mentioning is furthermore the life-threatening power supply in this club: the power cables were extended “by hand” and isolated with tape! Everything is wet and the smell is strange….
Today, only Chinese come! The club is bursting crowded! We have to give signatures before the concert and play a grandiose unbelievable relaxed gig in front of an audience that goes just plain mad! They sing along, the boys are tearing their shirts apart, jump off the stage… we are extremely happy! Seldom we’ve seen or experienced such a euphoric audience!
23rd April 2006, Guangzhou – Solo Bar
The Solo Bar is real cool club with the bar between stage and audience.
The PA is working, we even have real good amps and a backstage room! In China there are usually no backstage rooms …
Bärchi’s plan of today was to destroy the drum kit during the show and he succeeded (foot machine broken and tom-holder ripped off).
With every further concert, the audience is getting more excited. The guys in the Solo Bar are unbelievable! The club is crowded and everybody wants to have signatures and wants to take a photo with us.
But I first have to get used to one thing: After every song Chinese are applauding and scream for a short time and within seconds are dead silent!
The people coming to our concerts are giving us very much! We are very thankful therefore!
24th April 2006, Day Off
Our day of rest should happen to be a stressful one:
Saner got very ill and Niki, Bärchi and Dirk are taking him to an international hospital. However arrived, they cannot get an appropriate treatment, as no one can speak English.
The train tickets for the night train to Guilin tonight haven’t arrived and we get trouble with the hotel rooms and are told to check out immediately. We all haven’t eaten enough and slept too short.
Luckily our manager Niki arranges the tickets and we can go to Guilin as planned.
Night train from Guangzhou to Guilin (13 hours)
The whole tour seems to have been an eternal one so far… I (Alex) cannot tell anymore which day today is. We are (God, thank you) all in the same train car, including our luggage, and I can sleep in the upper compartment. The hard sleepers aren’t as bas as thought. Anyway, laying!
We discuss how we shall proceed. Saner has definitely to get a treatment in a bigger international hospital, in which (hopefully) someone might be able to speak English.
We decide, that Saner and Niki are taking a plane directly to Beijing tomorrow and we are continuing the tour alone. We’re going to meet later in Beijing, but we’re also going to miss Saner and Niki (our manager).
We think about how to perform our songs without Saner. As all attempts to persuade Entertainy and Dirk into taking over the keyboard parts fail, the keyboard is unpacked and Saner shows us the most important Key-Lines. Partly we’re going to play his parts pre-programmed from our laptop. However: Saners guitar is not going to be heard.
Sometimes the China tour is morphing into a stress- and painful torture. Just getting train tickets for the sleeper car seem impossible. The organisation is chaotic. Or have I just not discovered the system behind? Exchanging money translates into 2 hours waiting. Nearly no one speaks English.
Nevertheless, now the real stressful part of the tour begins. Dirk is going to takeover the organisation from Niki and Niki is going to try to manage everything from Beijing.
7 o’clock in the morning, in the night train
The air conditioning had taken us: except of two of us, we are all caught a cold. Bärchi and Martin stayed awake to take care of our belongings.
We „try“ to breakfast: noodle soup, Chinese vegetables and eggs. Oh, how much I (Alex) crave for just one slice of bread with marmalade! I take a look out of the window: It is just as I imagined it to be: dipped in fog, green hills and rice fields are next to each other, with farmers and their round hats working on them. Here and there a few huts and we are going through it all. Even here sun is fighting with the smog…
25th April 2006, Guilin – Suanle Bar
We’re picked up by the local organizers. The tickets for the train tonight aren’t arranged yet and we try to organize some somehow. Only standing tickets are left, but the organizer promises that he can exchange them for sleeper tickets tonight.
Today we have to play with a mini PA and mini amps.
In the clubs we usually improvise with the equipment that is present. It surprises me (Alex) again and again, what sound Patrick succeeds to arrange …
During the first support bands’ gig, suddenly one speaker starts to burn. The technician seems to have wanted it even louder than it already was… A lot of “sound” is not remaining!
However the gig runs well! The audience is excited and thinks that the distorted sound had been a wanted one.
After the concert we hurry to the train station. It starts to rain monsoon-like and my (Patrick) jacket was also stolen during the gig L!
We run from the taxi to try to get the train. Totally socked full of rain we stand at the track as the train arrives. We do not have to understand Chinese to get the meaning of our local organizers’ talk with the train conductor: The train is full and is going to leave without us…
It is 1 o’clock in the morning, we have no hotel, it stills pours down on us and we have no clue what to do.
How do we get to Changsha?
No chance, we look for a hotel and cancel tomorrow’s gig.
26th April 2006, Guilin – Day Off
The camera crew resigns! Entertainy sits on the toilet while Marco organizes flights for both of them! Only 5 are left …
Dirk, previously refunctioned to be tour manager, now also has to carry the burden of being the camera crew!
Sleeping, eating (European), exchanging money (takes 2 hours) and organizing the flight to Wuhan (another two hours).
And the day is over…
27th April 2006, Wuhan – Vox Bar
Wow, we’re in a cab, coughing… we open the window and cough even more! Suddenly out of nowhere skyscrapers appear… welcome in Wuhan, welcome in the smog!
It takes at least an hour driving through the smoggy fog before we arrive at the Vox Bar. The Vox Bar is an European-style club with a big stage and mixing station “in front” (not next to) the stage. The amps are better than before, we are satisfied and get our rooms (directly above the club) shown to us.
Due to the extremely simple bathroom (hole in the floor with shower head, toilet is therefore equivalent with the shower) our rooms smell very strong and we sleep in the beginning altogether (4 people) in the most comfortable of the three rooms.
After two support bands its our turn and we miss once again Saner on stage.
The audience is excited and after the concert we eat extremely spicy Chinese food and get to bed tired as dogs.
28th April 2006, Anyang – Yinghuang Huisuo
A few hours later the driver is bringing us to the train station. We are on time, the train is leaving in 15 minutes. We’re looking for our track. A station worker is explaining us quickly, that we’re at the wrong train station! How shall we get to Anyang?
A friendly English-speaking Chinese woman recognizes our helplessness and organizes train tickets for us on a train running North! As there are no trains going to Anyang from there, we’re trying to get to Beijing. In the train to Chengzhou, Dirk gets a call from Anyang; “please, please, come!” After a short discussion we agree to get picked up in Chengzhou.
There we board a travel bus and arrive after a 12 hour drive finally in Anyang.
In a hurry we run with our luggage to the club. It is a noble disco with illuminated stage, techno music and red airchairs.
It is quite late, we have to make a quick sound check and get on stage immediately afterwards, without getting a minute of rest.
Here, people in uniform are waiting, taking care, that no one from the audience gets in front of the stage and acts wild. After the bands’ and the organizers’ request, they are allowed to come closer and we are enjoying a wonderful audience. The atmosphere is unique and even the PA is sensational! We haven’t seen this kind of equipment so far in China! Amazing!
Especially for tonight is the DJ acting strange behind his DJ station! After each song he cuts off Alex’ talking to the audience (maybe to heat them up?)! We unfortunately understand no word and wonder why he even comments during our soli!
After the show we’re brought to the hotel and the organizer is inviting us for dinner at the restaurant next door. We experience our culinary low point: in a glass show case we can point on the wished “dish” and a few minutes later it is really served a same. Alex finds out, that Martin’s grilled fish looks totally alike the one in the glass show room. I (Patrick) check the show room and discover: the fish is gone! Martin’s face pales and he touches the (probably two weeks old) fish with his fork. A low “pffff” escapes the fish …
April 29th 2006, Beijing 13 Club
We board the train to Beijing again.
Boarding trains in China is very adventurous, as through each opened door people board and leave the train at the exactly same time! With fists and elbows every Chinese tries to be the first.
But we also manage to enter the train! In the train suddenly all Chinese unpack their prepared food and offer us, probably with mercy, everything they have. As even someone has the idea to turn on the air condition, we are quite happy in the beginning. However somehow it is getting colder and colder and even pullover and jacket are not enough to keep yourself from freezing. We only wonder how the Chinese (in T-Shirts!!!) ignore the cold. They continue eating and we notice once again that you ain’t complain in China.
Nevertheless, I’m (Patrick) still feeling too cold. Alex lips are turning blue and I ask the conductor to slightly adjust the air con! Really after a few minutes it is getting comfortable warm again.
We have arrived! We are in Beijing! Niki picks us up together with Schwansky. But the best: Saner is with us again and he is of best health!
In the 13 Club we finally get to know our sympathic tour booker Jon and the supportive Tristian. We are glad to be a 5-man-band again and reunited we enjoy the gig in the 13 Club.
April 30th 2006, Beijing – Day off
Today we only enjoyed ourselves: sleeping in long, eating on the street, jumping the the hotel-own swimming pool and relaxing, relaxing, relaxing.
In the evening we were in Nikis apartment and ate very good Chinese food later on. Patrick and Martin take the first time Beijing duck in Beijing. As good as the food was in the restaurants, everybody has to fight with his own digestion. We oft have to run to the toilet. As we’re all full, we go to the massage studio of which Niki has told us. As we enter the rooms, good smells dwell to our noses. Every room is furnished in wood and you feel relaxed before they even start the massage. We choose a foot massage and take seat in big massage air chairs. I (Alex) nearly fall asleep. We pay 10 EURO for 90 minutes massage and free drinks and order one drink after the other…
May 1st 2006, Beijing – Midi Festival
Midi-Festival! We walk over the vast area and are impressed! At 8 o’clock in the evening our gig: It has darkened, twenty thousand people are expecting us! After a 5 minutes line check we start to rock!
It is great, it is amazing to play in front of such an audience! Alex has the audience in her grip and we feel damn good! With “Cause & Effect” Alex lets the audience sing along. 20000 people sing along, it is indescribable! On the stage are a lot of camera men for transmission to the video screen and the many spots blind us so often that you can only guess the first rows of people. Saner and Martin amuse themselves as one Chinese fan shouts out “I want to fak u”… The day is the peak point of the tour!
May 2nd 2006, Beijing – Club Yugongyishan
The Midi festival is over and today we perform our last gig in China. Martin has a fever, however plays with us during the gig, sitting.
Schwansky has to go to the airport immediately after the gig and the rest of us parties the whole night!
Thanks a lot to Niki, Dirk, the film crew, Jon, Tristian and all the other, that made this tour possible!