This post is a little later than expected as we've been struggling through several places with slow internet which makes uploading pictures a little difficult. But here is an update about the first few places we visited - more to come soon!
So in late May we arrived in Malaysia pumped to be on tour and back in Asia, and did all the shopping and eating that Kuala Lumpur demands.
On our way to the concert our very excitable taxi driver gave us a run-down on Malaysian pop music and radio stations, kept asking us if our concert was in a stadium and wanted to buy our non-existent CD. Even though it was obviously a misunderstanding, it was funny to be treated like a celebrity, even if the driver was clearly hoping we could introduce her to other celebrities.
Of course if was great to be working with Toccata Studios again. Their space is perfect for contemporary music and they run so many amazing programs. If you're ever in Kuala Lumpur, definitely check them out! Our concert went off without a hitch, and afterwards, like last time we performed there, we got a chance to meet some local saxophone students which is always a pleasure.
After that we had a short stop in Da Nang in central Vietnam. Sorry to rub it in Australia, but it was HOT.
After Da Nang it was off to Hue. Even though we've explored Vietnam a reasonable amount we'd never made it to Hue before and were keen to get stuck into the Hue specialty food which is popular throughout the country.
Almost as soon as we arrived, we made a trip into the old city to check out Then Cafe, the art space/cafe we would be working with. In Vietnam, it's not possible to register an arts space as a business (because reasons?) so all the creative spaces need to double as other businesses - usually cafes.
The first stop with our new artist friends was to gorge on seafood which is obviously a universally popular pastime. This involved riding on the back of motorbikes which we hadn't done in Vietnam before due to fear of certain death but we got used to it pretty quickly.
We went to this big lagoon a bit out of the city where you can get a small fishing boat out to a number of precarious-looking fishing shacks that double as restaurants. Whilst at first we were a little worried about falling through the floor of the shack, the food was fantastic and it was really nice to relax there for a while!
Our lunch spot for the day.
Next up was the citadel in the old city, an old palace which is gradually being restored. Our friends got around the expensive entrance fee by saying they were delivering some art works to their friend who has a shop inside, which was hilarious. The citadel is a huge expanse of old buildings surrounded by hundreds of delicious fruit trees, which we obviously raided.
It's okay, he's an artist. This is a performance installation...
Next up was the abandoned water park up in the mountains. All the water slides and canals have been consumed by the jungle and left to rot. But that just meant there were no rules and we could do whatever we wanted. It was really fun messing around with the echo in the slides!
Impromptu performances on the slides ensued. The tourists were amused.
Couldn't tell you exactly where it is, but if you're in Hue and find a local who knows about it, definitely go!
Finally it was the night of the concert! What started as a passing comment soon led to a fun collaborative performance with our new friends. Check it out below!
Next stop - Hanoi! It had been a year since we lived in Vietnam and it was fun being back somewhere familiar. There we were working with Manzi, a fantastic contemporary art space. They told us about a huge city-wide set of installations they did with an interactive app that alerted users to the art's location. Like everything they do, a very cool initiative that really engages the public! Definitely consider dropping in to check out their latest projects if you're ever in Hanoi!
Again, the end of our concert included a collaboration, this time with local electronic sound artist Nhung Nguyen who also goes by the stage name of The Sound Awakener. Lots of fun! During our performance we also noticed a quite professional-looking set of people filming the concert but didn't think too much of it. Later we learned that it was to be broadcast on TV, which was pretty cool! Check out the video below!
We then went south to Ho Chi Minh City. We were only supposed to be there for a day but extended our stay because our new friends hooked us up with a concert there. Our longer stay also meant we had time to go to the most Melbourne-looking cafe in Saigon to sample some top-notch coffee and one of our friends had his family prepare us yet another delicious meal. For our concert, we were playing in Yoko Bar which, aside from having seriously delicious food, hosts a wide variety of local and international music. The owners of Yoko are committed to bringing a wide variety of music and sounds to local audiences (everything from pop to experimental music) which is cool. Here's a little sample of some new sounds we tried out!
About a third of the way through the tour, we left Vietnam tired but exhilarated with all the fun we had and the new friends we made. So much so that we've already booked flights to come back! Our next stop was Cambodia which we will talk about in our next post.