Friday, July 09, 2010

Another country

Abigail Washburn, the China-lovin' American folkie, is back in Beijing after a two-year hiatus (well, I think she's breezed through the past couple of years, but didn't bring a band or play any scheduled gigs), and is playing tonight..... out at mysterious new venue, The One (seems to have been open several months now, but they do not deign to advertise in the laowai press).

Unfortunately, that is rather a long way away. Way, way out on the east side of town. Beyond the end of the Line 1 subway (they built an extension on this 5 or 6 years ago, to open up some of the more remote 'burbs out there, like Tongzhou; but this additional 'Batong' line is overland, so you have to get out and go through a long-winded changeover at one of the two Sihui stations). I've had a teaching job out that way a couple of times: complete nightmare - it would take 40 or 50 minutes to get back in a taxi, even with clear roads. On the subway, it would take me well over an hour (possibly quite a lot more, given the long gaps between trains once the early evening rush hour is over). That is most definitely, alas, a gig too far.

Or, as I put it to a friend who quizzed me just now as to whether I was going:

"It's in Gaobeidian. I didn't apply for the visa in time!"

[And hey, it's now raining. That means it's gone from being Korea to something more like Hawaii. I know there are a bunch of people who live over that side of town now, but..... really, I think venues like The One and Mako Live are gamely anticipating a demographic shift rather than responding to one. At the moment, and for a good two or three years to come, I would think, they are simply too remote from the major laowai population centres to attract a decent audience for this kind of show. Abby, my dear, please come and play at MAO next time. Or at Star Live again (although the one you did there a few years ago was a bit of a soulless gig: a bit too much space for your sound). Or at one of the warehouse spaces in 798. Or even, god help me, at Yugong Yishan (er, no, I didn't mean that: Yugong sucks for acoustic shows, as you know to your cost). Just, please, not out in the wilds of Gaobeidian. On a Friday evening. In the rain.]


Ruby said...

Gig of the Year!!

The sound in this place is out of this world. It puts any other Beijing music venue to shame. At one point there were 11 musicians on stage, a mixture of American, Mongolian and Chinese stringed instruments of various kinds and every single one could be heard. Abigail has the voice of an angel (I'm sorry to say it, but she makes another local country girl sound like a 2 year old singing nursery rhymes!)
And the finale, Hanggai's drinking song with mixed with bluegrass, who would of thought this could work so well?

Definitely worth the 15 mins in the rain fighting for a taxi, arguments with the driver over where he was going and walk through ankle deep water around a dark, un-signposted art zone.

Froog said...

Your last sentence fails to convince on so many levels.

And you're starting about 5 or 6 miles nearer to it than me - which must be, what, nearly a third of the way there!!

It doesn't make any difference if it is 'the best gig venue in Beijing' if it's not really in Beijing. I hear they have some pretty good clubs in Tokyo too...