Photos by MJ Klein and Hui-chen This article contains FOOD PHOTOS
A new movie premiered in northern Taiwan this weekend. Also, a new band premiered as well. This is part one of the story and there is a lot to tell – so let’s get started!
Shot entirely in Taiwan, Detours to Paradise is a brand new movie with premiers in Taoyuan, Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung.
This is Oath (left, of Fong Band fame) and Ah-A (from the Blue Sky band) waiting outside the club downstairs.
We began the day by viewing the movie Detours to Paraside in a local theater next to the Thai club where we were going to perform that night. After the movie we went over to the club but found that it wasn’t open yet.
We milled around for bit, and then finally the club opened and we all went upstairs. We had been waiting for some time.
This is the name of the club in Thai. It’s located at #60 Jhong Jhen Road, about 100 meters from the Taoyuan Train Station. This article is geotagged with the location of the club.
When we finally got inside the club, we found it a beehive of activity. The club had shut down for two days to undergo a massive rebuild. Workers were everywhere, busily finishing up tasks that needed to be completed before the patrons arrive later. Someone told me that they had been working for 48 hours straight with no sleep.
This is a side shot of the stage where we would be performing later.
This shot shows some of the creative lighting that had been installed in the club. The colors rotate through the spectrum.
We began setting up the drum equipment. The stage equipment would arrive later on.
2 guys from the band are setting up the drums, making adjustments to the angle of the toms.
In the meantime, wires were being laid out. Notice the JBL sound reinforcement system. During the construction, the sound “engineers” were testing the equipment and it was extremely loud – dangerously loud in fact. I had to wear earplugs because I felt that my hearing was being damaged by the high pressure levels. Night after night, drunken patrons are exposed to these high pressure sound levels and they are all losing their hearing – even if they don’t realize it. Generally speaking, everything in Taiwan is loud! Too loud if you ask me.
The wires were then strung over the grid. The club very cleverly had an overhead grid system that allows virtually anything to be hung from it (such as lights) and also wires run overhead.
In short order, the drums were all ready. You can see my VOX amp just to the right of the photo. I always use my own equipment but most bands like to use the “house” amplifiers that are provided by the sound company. The sound company wouldn’t be arriving until much later on. We couldn’t do our sound check until the other gear arrived.
At some point I should explain something about the band, so it might as well be now.
As many readers may recall, I play with the Fong Band which is a Thai band living in Taiwan. If you search this website for “Fond Band” you will find several articles about us. Several of the members of the Fong Band have returned to Thailand, leaving only 2 members on Taiwan: Mr. Oath and myself.
Now, as you might recall from this article in 2007, I played a Southeast Asian music festival, where I saw a band called Blue Sky for the first time. Later that evening I went to a restaurant of the same name. Several of the members of Blue Sky have also left Taiwan. So, when our booking agent called, looking for a Thai band to play several upcoming shows, we combined parts of three different bands into one new band, and we used the most recognized name. So, now we are the all new Blue Sky Band. This was our premier gig.
We decided to go out and get something to eat because there wasn’t anything else for us to do until the equipment arrived later. We walked past the Taoyuan train station to the area behind the station where the Thai restaurants are.
Notice the menu book with photographs. Smart! We ordered food from this Isaan style Thai restaurant.
I always learn new words in Thai when I hear people speaking it.
Ah-A (left) and our booking agent, Mr. Fang, check out some photos from earlier in the day.
Finally, the food arrived!
Som tam, or papaya salad.
A Vietnamese style of Pad Thai.
Really great Tom Yum spicy Thai soup. Just look at those dried roasted peppers!
Egg salad, Thai style.
We destroyed most of the dishes. This was a fantastic meal – nice and leisurely.
We returned to the club. With nothing to do except wait for the equipment to arrive, we had the club waiter bring out a table and some Sang Som rum to pass the time.
We had the front area all to ourselves. It was pretty boring just waiting for the equipment to arrive. In the meantime, the club had opened for business and patrons were arriving by the minute. I hate doing sound checks with patrons present but we had no choice in the matter.
Finally, the equipment arrived along with 2 techs who began setting everything up.
Here I am warming up my amp and guitar, waiting for the go-ahead for sound check. My litte VOX AD-30VTXL was running approximately 75% power. It’s really loud for 30 watts.
The club was starting to fill up. If the equipment had arrived earlier we could have done a sound check without onlookers….
We began our soundcheck and the patrons got up and danced to the one song we played. I wanted to hide behind the JBL speaker cabinets.
After sound check we went outside the club and back to our table. We stared at this scene for several more hours until it was time to play. The tables are covered with promotional materials and mobile phone card items.
After pushing our starting time back 3 times, finally the hosts went on the stage to introduce the evening’s activities. If you ask me, they talked entirely too long, but that seems to be how it’s done in Taiwan.
We hit the stage!
This shot shows a happy patron giving Ah-A a one hundred NT dollar note.
By the way, Ah-A is also one of the stars in the movie. He is in several scenes with speaking parts. Some people in the crowd recognized him from the movie.
Now Ah-A is getting some flowers from a fan.
Thai audiences love to interact with performers on a scale way higher than I had ever seen in the US or Canada. Often this interaction can be disruptive as people will stand in front of you holding drinks that they expect you to take from them – and drink immediately. Giving gifts of flowers and money as also disruptive. I like audience interaction but I cannot stop playing to take stuff from fans in the audience. Ah-A had a pile of flowers on the stage in the first 10 minutes, plus a couple hundred NT in his pocket. Ah-A is an excellent front man and a good singer. He really worked the audience very well.
Believe it or not, I’ve lost weight. Even though I still look heavy I can tell from these photographs that I’ve slimmed down a bit. I need to keep going though!
The main stage lighting was green and thus the green hue to all the photos! This is how the scene really looked though.
Here I am taking a solo. The crowd loves solos….
That’s Oath on the left, playing bass.
I really like this shot of Ah-A.
We played a short set to open the premier and then the actors went onstage. This is me with the 2 main stars of the movie, plus the director Rich Lee, in the center.
Rich Lee went up on stage.
Next, the actors went up on stage.
Next, we went onstage with the movie actors and did a couple of songs together. This was really fun as everyone took their turn singing a very famous Thai song.
We finished up our set with the actors onstage with us.
It was a lot of fun being back on stage, playing those great Thai songs with the guys. The Thai audience is very accepting of having a non-Thai person on stage with the band, which is very cool.
This concludes Part I, the Taoyuan premeir. In Part II, I will show you the Taipei premeir that took place at the Taipei Main Station. It was an outdoor, afternoon show.
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