Saturday, July 31, 2010

The weather wins again....

I had been planning to go and check out Lone, the new acoustic venture from Bian Yuan, former frontman of we're-so-drunk-we-must-be-a-rock-band Joyside (I confess to being a little regretful that I never got around to seeing them before they disbanded, although I hear wildly differing opinions on whether in fact they were any good or not). I'd caught this duo once before, a year or two back at Salud, and thought they were pretty good. The only widely-touted musical alternative last night was the third instalment of Zippo's 'Hot List' concert series at the wretched Yugong Yishan, with a fairly shitty bill (Ourselves Beside Me, White - blech!). So, it was a no-brainer, really, for the Beijing music-lover.

Except that the gig was on at new-ish music bar Vanguard (or VA Bar, the 'alternate title' it rather confusingly seems to prefer to use most of the time), a bijou spot at the east end of the Wudaoying Hutong. This venue can't accommodate very much of a crowd (it's more of a jazz spot, with lots of lounge seating taking up most of what little space they have), so booking a 'big name' on an otherwise 'slow night' was a tad foolhardy.

Actually, when I got there at a little after 10pm, the crowd - though much the biggest I've ever seen there - was not yet uncomfortably packed. However, there were more people turning up all the time. BY comped in half a dozen of his friends just as I arrived. And there were 15 or 20 people mooching around in the street outside (having taken 'inside beers' with them, rather than just fuelling up on 3-kuai street beers), which caused me some misgivings as to how well the air-conditioning was holding up. Even if the number of bodies wasn't enough to crank the temperature through the roof (it didn't seem too bad when I ducked inside for a moment), it was already such as to make it difficult to order a drink (although it was a near 100% Chinese crowd, and Chinese punters don't drink much) and difficult to see the stage.

I hung around for 15 or 20 minutes: the crowd was slowly getting bigger, but there was no sign of anything happening on stage, and I sensed that the show was not likely to get going until well after 11pm.

I was already exhausted by the walk to get there through the soupy, rancid, hyper-polluted fug that blanketed Beijing yesterday evening. I just didn't have the stamina to wait around that long on my own - when it was uncomfortably warm inside, stiflingly humid outside.

I gave up on the gig, but decided to detour past Amilal on the way home - a 20-25 minute walk that seemed to take more like an hour-and-a-half. By the time I got there, I wasn't good for anything very much, and didn't stay for very long.

The only plus point from the night's excursion, really, was that 'Scamp', Alus's female kitten who's latterly become extremely nervous and reclusive, was on this occasion too worn out by the heat to run away, and allowed me to pet her..... for the first time in ages. That did more to expunge the stresses of the week than an unplugged rock'n'roller ever could have.

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