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Take my hand…

We’re off to never-never land!

This past week has been all about the musics. It began last Wednesday, when my friends and I shook our tail feathers in a square dancing class at Tianjin University of Sport.

Dancers... or zombies?!?

Dancers… or zombies?!?

Despite having zero fondness for country music, and possessing no dancing talent whatsoever, we all had a fantastic time and made some good contacts in the Tianjin expat community. One of the other Americans there has an apartment with an oven. Cookies are so happening.

Friday night, the plan was to have a nice, quiet evening and head home early, but these things rarely ever work out. “Alice,” Ting Ting, and I started things off at AJO’s and celebrated feminism by posing with everyone’s favorite Riveter, Rosie.

Such large, freakishly-long arms you have!

Such large, freakishly-long arms you have!

After being reminded of why we hate AJO’s (no people, no mingling, and really shitty-tasting beer), we ended up at our favorite haunt, Helen’s. There, we waited for our other friend “Simon” and chatted with a couple of well-accomplished young Chinese people. We eventually (hours later) received word that Simon would meet us at another bar called Green Man, and our new Chinese friends were happy to join us. The best part: they had a shiny Mercedes to drive us all over there! Win.

This is when our “quiet evening” spiraled out of control. We arrived at Green Man, only to find that Simon had already left with a group of friends to go KTVing. Never ones to balk at a chance for a good time, we decided to join them.

In case you don’t know, there exists a phenomenon called the Great KTV Time Vortex, where minutes mysteriously transform into hours without your knowledge.

Doo-wop doo-wop!

Doo-wop doo-wop!

We karaoke’d everything from Oasis to Ray Charles to Britney Spears, with some Chinese jams thrown in for good measure. We karaoke’d until we were all ready to pass out on the couches…. and until the sun came up. So much for going home early.

Daylight, better to highlight my shame while returning to campus at 5am.

Daylight, better to highlight my shame while returning to campus at 5am.

Needless to say, Saturday was spent sleeping… with a super amazing rock concert at Hebei University of Technology to top it all off.

CG bringing metal to Tianjin

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This was, by far, the best concert that I’ve been too in China. The huge MIDI extravaganza of a couple weeks ago was no match. The thing that made it really stand out was my friend CG’s band, April Fool’s. They played all Metallica, all the time, with ACTUAL SKILL. There’s just nothing quite like rocking out to “Enter Sandman,” right in front of the stage, with a guy crowd-surfing behind you and a group of guys head-banging with their arms around each other.

All of this, combined with throwing a football around outside, seeing an enormous pile of trash just outside where the gig was held (see below), and getting home well before the sun came up, made for a marvelous Tianjin evening.

Rat feast.

So close to the actual trash can.

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Night Life, Tianjin

 

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MIDI Metal Madness

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China never ceases to amaze me.

This past May holiday, my friend Chenguang and I headed to 蓟县 Jixian, a county north of Tianjin and east of Beijing, for a massive musical festival called MIDI.

Love for metal crosses all barriers

Love for metal crosses all barriers

We made the mistake of placing all of our trust and faith in his GPS, which meant we got hopelessly lost a few miles away from the festival. Instead of taking the main road, we ended up getting a tour of the local village and meandering through the hill country.

A lovely day for a village tour.

A lovely day for a village drive

But we finally made it to the party! Although we were only going to the last day of the festival, some people had been camping out there for the entire three days.

Tent City

Tent City

Three main stages, over thirty bands, sunshine, grass… what wasn’t to like? I saw more tattoos and dreadlocks and generally nonconformist behavior here than my entire time in China. People were dancing, drinking, moshing, and crowd-surfing. It seems that loud music can break through even the legendary Chinese reserve.

Even security guards got to break loose and crowd surf sometimes.

Even security guards got to break loose and crowd surf sometimes.

A lot of students came from all over northern China to get their crazy on. Each group had huge flags that they waved around in front of the stage, to both represent their homelands and keep track of their posse.

Most of the bands were Chinese, with many a “fighting” band (metal with screamed lyrics and no melody anywhere). I love me some metal, but they were a little too intense even for me. Many bands also incorporated traditional Chinese instruments into their music. Chinese folk metal, yessss!

If you didn’t like one band, all you had to do was wander to another stage and find something else that more suited your tastes.  That’s how I ended up listening to The Ordeal, a shamelessly-generic power metal band from Germany. Since power metal was my gateway drug into the metal world, I was quite pleased by their epic choruses and screaming guitar solos.

Let the hammer fall!

Let the hammer fall!

Another unexpected treat was a Swiss drumming duo called Bubble Beatz (horrible name, entertaining show). They had a whole set-up of unconventional “drums” made from various pieces of metal and wood, and even broke out a didgeridoo at one point. Their dance and dubstep breakdowns, as well as their shirtless man-chests, caused quite the stir.

Drop that bass.

Drop that bass

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day, with the only drawbacks being a mysterious lack of water anywhere around the festival and some horrendously dirty port-a-potties. Squatting outhouses should never be a thing. Here is a picture to haunt your dreams forever.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

YOU’RE WELCOME

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2013 in Life, Travel

 

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