Whew. Just finished 3 weeks in China. 8 concerts and two lectures.
China took my breath away. Literally. It is dangerous to breathe there. Air pollution is the last thing you taste before falling asleep and the first thing you taste when you wake up. I will not miss that.
But I will most definitely miss the wonderful people. Quite the scene of young energetic inquisitive questioning fun-loving open-minded people in Shanghai and Beijing. So much energy and interesting work. Something abuzz every night it seems. The last night I shared a bill with Zhu Wenbo, whose performance was a kind of electronic music I had never heard before. It is not often I can say that. Fantastic.
But the whole scene seems to be hanging by a thread right now. My concert last night had to be moved because the police permanently closed the venue two days before. Apparently they had shown some LGBT films curated by an activist the state has blacklisted. The venue didn’t even know. In Shanghai, my hosts’ club was raided by the police a few months ago and shut down. The woman in the couple got a month in jail. And the club I played at during my first trip to China a couple of years ago was raided by police a while ago. They came in, sealed the exits, and forced everyone to take on-the-spot urine tests. If the test showed you were doing some type of drug you went to jail. Club was permanently closed.
Like my time in Detroit and El Salvador, China is going to take some time to settle in my mind before I have much to say about it. Actually I have started writing something about it all. Not sure what I am writing, but too long for this blog.
Many many thanks to Josh Feola for organizing an incredible trip.
[…] Bundle up Beijing, a cold rain falls over this entire weekend, signaling gray days ahead from here on (until Spring). Hey, it’s been a nice 2.5 weeks or so. Bob Ostertag had a killer time, and blew more than a few minds locally. Actually, the peripatetic veteran was blown away himself by the Beijing scene. After lamenting our borderline unbreathable air, Ostertag writes: […]
[…] This time last year, pangbianr was hosting Bob Ostertag in China for a tour and mini-residency of sorts. Bob gave three remarkable performances in Beijing, including a rendition of his emotionally wrenching composition Sooner or Later and a group improvisation with Soviet Pop and Vavabond, both part of last year’s Beijing Electronic Music Encounter (BEME IV). He also traveled for shows in Xi’an, Hangzhou, and Shanghai; you can read some of his (typically nuanced and incisive) reflections from that leg of his 2015-2016 world tour here. […]