Definitely one of our strangest gigs. Well, if you could call it a gig. Five foreigners standing on a giant illuminated cityscape pretending to play along to a Bruno Mars track (of which I have ridded my mind of).
The occasion was the first day of the Chinese National Holiday, a few hours away from Yangshuo, in Liuzhou. A very typical big Chinese city, tall concrete buildings at every turn and thousands of cars, scooters and people wondering somewhat aimlessly about. But, no city would be without smog, that familiar smokey haze somewhat lessening the effects of the blistering hot sun.
True to form we arrive at the hotel on time and are instantly recognised by the receptionist who hands us the room key. I guess two white guys walking in with rucksacks and guitar bags is a rare occurrence! We get to the room and decide against calling our agent, happy to be inside, making full use of the beds and the air conditioning. Six hours later we get the call to come to the reception and meet the rest of the miming band, African dancers and the models.
We go to the area the carnival will start and everyone is instantly impressed with the floats on display, ranging from truck size to ones built on flat bed wagons. To power the speakers and the lights ours had four generators inside, make for a very noisy, hot experience. As well as the foreigners were a group of Chinese dressed as famous Chinese TV show characters, a group of mountain bikers and some pretty talented BMX’ers. So we do a trial run, and even though the show was tomorrow there were still over a thousand people lining the streets to watch the floats go by.
After a late night in a Chinese bar, which of course included our agent getting us to play a few songs on stage, we got up bright and early, well maybe not so bright, more tired, hungry and hungover to meet the rest of the crew and headed to the venue.
For the next hour we stood on our floats and waved at the crowds manically taking photos, videos and selfies of the big day. If I had a penny for every photo taken of me that day I would have been a happy man! As the float made its way down the road at an infuriatingly slow pace the heat started getting to us and the smiles we becoming painful to hold. We then stopped at a crossroads for a few minutes, long enough for an enterprising young Chinese father to offer his three-month old child to the singer – a perfect photo opportunity, the day we saw the foreign rock stars (oh the shame). This of course opened the flood gates for every child holding parent to follow suit. Thankfully float started rolling forward and an emergency evacuation of all the children who had made their way onto the float began. When we finally made it to the end, fought our way to the main venue, and got escorted into an unfinished building, we sat down and all looked at each other with puzzled smiles, it was over, one more trip to get our things and our money and then home.