So the Bund beer festival gig that I posted about the other day took a slight turn for the worse yesterday after my scheduled performance was unexpectedly cancelled on the spot mid way into my second song. Not because of say a fire evacuation which would have merited such a decision or because of technical hitches. No, my performance was cancelled mid way because of one corporate suit’s over riding desire to make money, and my performance wasn’t quite going to fit in with his RMB-generating plan. Let me explain how this happened.
Essentially there are 2 stages at the beer festival: one is the outdoor stage which Xiaoxinyiyi performed at on Friday night, the other being sponsored and run by the Yong Kang Lu based craft beer bar, The Tap House. Now let’s say one thing: good beer and good food was on offer and a healthy crowd was streaming back and forth within their marquee for most of the night so attracting customers one way or another certainly was not going to be an issue. They also had the advantage of being located right by the hard to find music festival style toilets, looking somewhat out of place on the pretentious bund strip. However, to be seen to be putting on entertainment and by enlisting the help of BO to purposefully source out locally based musicians, without vetting what’s potentially on offer prior, the line up was set in stone. So I was scheduled to take to the stage at around 6.45pm, performing a mix of Xiaoxinyiyi songs, a couple of covers and some of the new songs I was working on. A platform that I was lead to believe would have allowed me to do exactly that. I was fully aware that this was not a typical gig and therefore knew that people weren’t particularly coming to watch me - it’s a beer festival after all, not a music festival. So it’s inevitable that during my performance, people would dip in for a bit, not necessarily stay for the whole performance and then check out what else is on offer around the site because that is their primary purpose of coming-to check out the beer!
So I get myself set up to run through the songs, making sure the microphones are set up properly and proceed to open with “All in the mind” after introducing myself, attempting banter with the crowd and ultimately trying to make it engaging. The song goes down well, I adjust the volume of the guitar mic and act on feedback right away to ensure the sound is consistent. Then I go into “Amazing” and it’s clear to me that the crowd of people are watching intently, even a few people actually filming it on the phones! Not as you may be lead to believe, a mass exodus of people downing their beer as soon as possible, reaching for their belongings and hastily leaving the venue because they were so disgusted by the music I was performing. But, during the instrumental section of “amazing”, one of the bar staff came to me and said he’d been asked to tell me that this was to be my last song. A rather perplexing proposition given that my set had barely begun, but I still managed to finally squeeze in one more song, my “Screamager” cover by Therapy?. Appropriate amendment of the lyrics to substitute the guitar riff at the start of the song to “get it round you” was well received, as was the song in general. A content audience, applauding the music and some having made recordings of it. A gig with a lot of potential cut short - why?
So I approach the owner and different explanations for my short notice cancellation were circulating. The first one being that I was “drunk and bad”. Drunk? No. Bad? That’s a subjective matter for oneself, a not one I’m sure that was universally accepted by the 30 or so punters I was performing to. Then the next explanation came through: ” the bar staff were complaining”. Turned out to only be the boss, Stuart D according to his Linked in page, a jumped up landlord essentially masquerading as a business man. He’s no more of a business man than someone that opens a beach hut bar in the south of Thailand. He alleged to me that his friends didn’t like it and left to go to another place. Thus, elements of personal interest and a lack of objectivity can be attached to his weak justification. When challenged on his lack of support for the music scene and not giving this performance a chance, he essentially pointed out that he was only interested in making money for his bar and this was the decision he made to continue to maximise the potential profit for the bar. Non-apologetic and defiant, what he judged not to be to his taste in music was the ultimate basis for canning the performance. Then he desperately tried to point out my eyes were bloodshot and so therefore I must have been too drunk to perform. He was also saying he didn’t like my voice - fine, I don’t care but a groundless basis to cut short a set. Independently, this bloodshot claim was later proven to be false and nothing more than a desperate attempt to conceal his true interests. He may as well have said to me, like an “Apprentice” reject, “All I care about is making as much money as possible”. Finally, when I pointed out that I expected that I would still receive the payment I was promised, his response was just simply “you can expect all you like mate”, stopping short of daring to say no I wouldn’t.
So please, a gig is a gig. If this person’s idea of quality is watching live karaoke with zero crowd engagement, essentially what came before me (a girl singing with an ipod playing backing tracks of Top 40 hits while she sang over them) versus someone crafting their own original material, engaging with the crowd and putting everything into their performance, then we are better off without them. You can’t pay lip service to the underground scene for the sake of being seen to support it but then on the other hand reject it if it’s not to your personal taste. The simple dichotomy is you either support it or you don’t. It wasn’t like I was drunkenly slurring my words on stage, messing around with the gear and generally being an all round clumsy calamity. Fair enough, can that! But this was a measured and solid performance that I am proud is supported by people who do care about music and want to support the local talent than generating as much revenue as possible. So stick to buying beers from Cheers Inn on Yong kang Lu and if you do find yourself in that area, bring them along to the Tap House and drink them there.