…And It Ended Where It All Began

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in The Carp Leaping Over The Dragon Gate

We had a half day off in Suzhou before heading to Beijing for our next gig, so we enjoyed walking in the city a little bit. Suzhou is a beautiful city that kept its ancient charms, with many rivers crossed by wonderful arched bridges. Walking in the city is like going back in time and discovering an ancient China… We then headed to station, where we once again attracted attention… I can’t say if it’s the white skin, the guys’ the long hair & beards, the girls’ platinum blonde hair, YB’s fashion, or the overload of suitcases and music equipment that we have, but we leave nobody indifferent everywhere we go…

We then arrived in Beijing, very happy to be back in the Chinese capital, as this place holds so many memories for the band… That city has played such an important role in the band’s history! We were looking forward to going back to the Starbucks by the lake, a peaceful oasis in the middle of the busy city… Yes, Starbucks again. You might have come to the realization that we can’t live without it now… 🙂

We left Starbucks to go to the soundcheck, one that proved being very difficult on a technical level. We managed to set everything, and make it sound good. Everybody on stage knew the conditions for the night wouldn’t be perfect. But it was alright. The emotions of the moment would lead the way, not the technicals. And it’s with that in mind that we impatiently waited for the doors to open and the gig to start!

We were once again playing at the Mao Livehouse, the same venue where we played 3 years before! The owner of the place was really excited to see us again, as he said we were the craziest and most intense band he’s ever seen in the venue since its opening! And let’s just say we’ve been faithful to this once again! We lived wild moments, touching moments, both on stage and in the crowd… It’s so refreshing to see people let go in such a way. Not only the crowd, but all the band members on stage, too. Every second screams “We are alive. The moment is now. We’re not going to let it slip away. We’re going to live it to the fullest. We are alive. And this is the only thing that matters now!”

From Beijing the day after, we took a night train to Xi’An! It was a very long train, but we made sure we wouldn’t get bored! Indeed, Jeff, Ben and Moose wandered the streets of Beijing looking to buy a cake for YB’s birthday! There was no way we wouldn’t celebrate this very special moment… And what better time and place than on a funky night train to Xi’An? They managed to find a very beautiful one (that got messed up in the travel but that Miss Isabel gracefully restored!)!

We arrived in Xi’An after a long and very bumpy train ride! We explored the city a little bit, before settling in Starbucks for a few hours before going to the soundcheck! One thing we learned right away was that the city sure was a risky one… Repairing electric wires in such a way is quite something… We then stumbled upon a local street food stall, where Sef tried local flavors (that he didn’t seem to enjoy much), and had a great encounter with police officers regulating traffic (if such a thing is possible in China!).

We were greeted into the venue by the owner and his 2 cats, as well as his son! The venue was a very cool one, the best in all Xi’An. It was cozy with it’s couches, reminding a living room, yet trash at the same time, with a collection of international beer bottles on display, polaroid pictures scattered around the place, and complete with a pool table.

What made the place even more special is that we invited all the SFCC members to the soundcheck, by broadcasting it live on the community website! It was a truly special moment, as it was the first time we ever attempted broadcasting live from China. And we were so happy to be able to do so! It made us feel that little bit closer to you all! With communication being so difficult in China, we were more than happy to be able to bring you into our universe in such a special way!

And then came time for the gig itself! And what a truly wonderful moment it has been! The place was truly on fire with youth thirsty for something real, something they could relate to. Rock is still a very underground culture in China. Not so long ago, music was only something for the nobles. It started spreading to the masses, but in way of traditional Chinese music or pop idols – from China, Korea and Japan. Rock is still not widely known, and majorly frowned upon. But still, that subculture is very alive in China, and the least we can say is that people who embrace it do so to the fullest!

We enjoyed a full day off on the day after the gig. Even if we were all tired from the gig on the night before, we decided to head outside the city center in order to see the Terracotta Army. We arrived at the station and were faced with a problem. We were on a limited time frame, having a train to take at night, and the queue to buy tickets to see the Terracotta Warriors was 3 hours long. Much longer than we could afford. We decided to go for a private taxi, that would be able to transport us all, much faster anyway! Finding one wasn’t exactly easy, but we met Jack, a very sympathetic guy, who told us about the history of Xi’An and the Terracotta Army on our way there!

We came back to our hotel, packed everything up, and then headed to Xi’An station for our night train (another hard sleeper) to Chongqing! And what an adventure it has been. We arrived to the station with all our gear. Waited in line to get our ticket checked. Waited inside to get our luggage scanned. And you need to understand that this is an awful process for us, as it means unstrapping all the guitar cases, putting them on the scanner belt, and strapping them back again. But we made it! We queued for our train. And then, in that sea of people, we were told that there were no elevators to our platform. Not only this. There were no escalators either. That meant we needed to go up all those 200 stairs with our equipment, amongst the ocean of people that was already there, getting them onto the platform, and coming back downstairs, against the flow, to pick up what was left. We arrived upstairs, all in sweat, strapped everything back again, and walked the long corridor as fast as we could. And then… stairs. We needed to go down. Same pattern. Unstrap, go down with equipment, come back up, bring what’s left, strap the equipment back, and then RUN to our train. Let me tell you, cabin 14 is very far away from cabin 1… We arrived at cabin 14, started getting the equipment in. It’s too tight, we’re on the other side of the train, and we can’t move with the suitcases in the narrow alley already packed with people as the train was overbooked. Take everything back outside, on the platform, and head for the other door of the cabin. Get the equipment in. The door is locked, we can’t make it to cabin 15. Get back outside, head to the other door again, resolute to get our gear through the narrow alley. Our translator then decides she could talk to the train officer, who unlocks the door between cabin 15 and 14. Head back to the other side of the cabin again. Get told that the train is leaving in 2 minutes and that no delay would be accepted. We’re still outside the train, with our 20-something suitcases to bring inside. But we made it. WE MADE IT! We were all on board, the people and the equipment! And then we were on for another 12-hour train… covered in sweat!

We arrived in Chongqing early in the morning, headed to our hotel, walked around the city a little, visited the Nuts Bar where we would play the day after, and made sure to relax and take it easy a little… 🙂

Chongqing was the last gig of the tour. It was hard to believe that we were almost over with the tour already. Time went by so fast! But somehow, we knew that this gig would be an incredible one. Ever since we visited the venue on the night before, Alex had the feeling that it would be very particular. And for that, he was right! What a night it has been! People went completely crazy! It is very hard to put words on the night that we shared with the people at Nuts Bar in Chongqing! Simply said, it was from a moment to eternity. The girls were screaming (think young girls in front of their Favorite boys band, but these girls were all in their twenties, and we are no boys band), fists were in the air, we’ve seen mosh pits, head banging, and at one point, people in the last row were all holding one another by the shoulders and doing one massive head banging wave. Alex went in the crowd more often than I can remember, body surfed quite a few times as well, and the drums ended in the crowd! All of this, broadcasted live online on our fan club, the Secret Family Cult Club! A true wonderful moment of communion… from China all over to North America, Europe, Japan and Australia!

We stayed a very long time in the venue after the show, taking pictures, signing autographs, and discussing with people. We left it was well past midnight. And despite an incredibly intense night (Alex’s soaking wet t-shirt being a testimony of it!), we would have loved for this moment to last much longer… Cool thing in China, we’ve not been kicked out of venues very often… To the contrary, people embrace that human feel after the show! We finally ended up in the hotel lobby, talking about the show, expecting to make it last a bit longer!

We left the hotel very early, at 9:30, and headed to the station. It took us 90 minutes to get there…! 90 minutes in Chinese traffic, as a national holiday started today. Chinese traffic is quite something usually. They use horns to communicate, lanes are absolutely nonexistent, you have buses sharing the highway with bicycles (yes, bicycles, not bikes). It’s a huge cacophony out there… We finally arrived at the hotel around 4pm, checked in, dropped our suitcases in our rooms, and then left for the venue in a hurry. We walked, walked, walked, with all the equipment and our backpacks… And found the place, a nice venue in the middle of an oasis of silence after 20 minutes. The venue is closed. Our translator calls the owner of the venue. It’s not the right “Little Bar”. No. That venue-bar has 5 locations in the area, and this one is not the good one. Walk back to the hotel, another 20 minutes… And then another 10 minutes to the actual location we are playing tonight!

And the show has been to the image of the day we’ve had… Intense, wild, and covered in sweat! That last gig of the tour being sold out, some people came with a hope of buying a ticket at the door… Seing there were so many unsuccessful people waiting outside, the staff decided to open the door… “They may not be able to see the gig, but at least they will be able to hear it”! Alex must have spent more time in the crowd than on stage, and it’s a wonder how he managed to do so, as walking in the middle of that crowd was mission impossible! The room was packed! Once again, I couldn’t count how many times he jumped in the crowd… But I did count how many times he jumped from the second floor balcony, and that amounts to 3 times! The very last time he jumped from there was quite something… He was body surfing, and managed to tell people he wanted to go there, and climbed onto the balcony while still being carried by people! People went mad, completely mad… and it was the only way to do it!

And this is how the tour in China ended… In the very same city it started, 3 years ago…
A true human experience, that once again has left us changed and transformed forever.
Reminding us that everything is possible, as long as we believe in it.
We can be whoever we want to be.
We can dream whatever we want to dream.
We are free. And we are flying. Even when we don’t see our wings.
Because truth is, we don’t need wings to fly.
As much as we don’t need gills to breathe under water.

– Stephanie

Shanghai-Suzhou, A Perfect Magical Moment!

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in The Carp Leaping Over The Dragon Gate

Our adventure in Shanghai-Suzhou started in a very funny way! From Wuhan, where we stayed 2 days after the gig, we were to take a night train to Shanghai, a ride that is 10 hours. We weren’t very warm to the idea, but we figured out it was less of a hassle than taking an interior flight (faster, but the luggage weight limit is inferior to those of international flights here – we already are borderline with the weight, and receive that bright orange badge saying “heavy” every time we travel – so we figured the train would be a better option!). We rejoiced at the idea of having our own little cabins, with a little more comfort. But just before getting on board, we learned we would never seen these cozy little cabins. We were in the regular “hard sleeper” train. And the train takes its name with justice. The beds are hard, uncomfortable, and too small. We however had some great souvenirs from these trains, so it’s laughing that we managed to place all our equipment and climb into our beds. I wish I could tell you some of these stories from our previous tour, but that might have to add for the next Bla Bla Bla. They are “you had to be there” type of stories, but I am sure the guys’ enthusiasm would convey them to you properly. This time, we were quiet, and all fell asleep pretty fast!

We arrived in Shanghai, in a neighborhood that was completely new to us. Last time we had played there was at the MIDI festival, and it has been a very special moment for all of us… It was in the very beginning of the tour, where Alex literally defied gravity to learn how to fly… He went crowd surfing amongst a Chinese youth thirsty for their dreams and passionate, for longer than we can ever remember, as the band kept rocking on the stage. That day, anyone could fly… Everybody’s passion lifted us all up, making us the most beautiful flock of birds ever seen. We were all different, but with one same direction: Freedom. Whatever that word means for us individually, we knew we were going there collectively. And ever since, we never left that path, discovering it a little more every day, falling down, taking wrong turns, but free nonetheless.

And that gig in Shanghai has been a very special moment, a magical one where time stopped in order to allow us to fully live it, in its every emotion and color. Emotions and colors that have not yet been lived or seen, and that were ours to define and grasp – and we made sure to do so to the fullest! Once more, another step on the way of freedom through letting go. A night we will definitely never forget. All for different reasons, but united in hearts.

We left Shanghai to head to Suzhou at 11 in the morning. Both cities are very close to one another, so we were happy not to have to take a very long train. Arrived at the station, we made sure we felt home and had breakfast… 🙂

We were overjoyed to be back in Suzhou. We were going to play at the very same venue we played 3 years ago. Only, the name was the same, the staff was the same, but the location had changed. It was still very close to where it was, but it felt completely new. Walking in the streets, we remembered every little detail on our way. The city has changed in 3 years, and most of what was under construction 3 years ago is now open, French inspired coffee shops, cat cafés, Irish pubs, lounges, terraces… This city has a vibe unique in its own, as through its modern vibe, it lost nothing of its old charm.

We did the soundcheck, and though it took very long for us to make sure everything was ready, we all felt that the gig would be one to remember. Suzhou is not only a very beautiful city, its people are passionate and sure do believe in the power of dreams and being free. Thank you Suzhou! Your passion has once again lifted us in ways we could have never imagined!

And right after the show, we went to a coffee shop, the same one we went after the gig 3 years before. We talked with the owner of the place, who remembered us, and who gladly stayed open several hours after the usual closing time only for us.

We are now on to the next step of the tour, the gig at the Mao Livehouse in Beijing, where the owner, in an interview, mentioned us as the craziest live act he has ever seen since the opening of the venue. He has now idea what’s coming his way… 🙂


PS: If anyone of you do not know the festival I was referring to above, the MIDI festival, I really suggest you check it out! The band’s performance has been recorded and put on DVD for you all to take part in the moment! Don’t miss it! You can get it on the YFE Store! Here are the links for you!

International Store
Japan Store
France Store
Quebec Store

Back in China After 3 years… A Love Story Going On…

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in The Carp Leaping Over The Dragon Gate

We left home at 3:30am on Tuesday morning, headed to Montreal airport to catch our flight to Toronto, from where we would fly to Shanghai! Arrived at the airport, we were told that our flight had been cancelled and that we were on a pending list for a flight at 7:00am, 30 minutes earlier than expected. Or maybe 8:00am if the flight at 7:00am was full. Or 9:00am. Or later. In short, they had no idea when we would arrive in Toronto, and no idea if we could catch our flight to Shanghai either. Which proved to be very troublesome, as a flight on a later date would mean we’d miss the first gig of the tour. Thank you Canadian weather for sending a snowstorm our way on April 15th. That was really nice of you! After a bit of discussion with the staff at the gate, we managed to all make it on the 8:00am flight to Toronto!

Arrived there, the tradition took place! Pad Thai for everyone, and an extra burger for Jeff. It’s 9:30 in the morning, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. We didn’t sleep all night, so I guess we can say it wasn’t really morning! Jeff made sure to give YB a taste of what was to come during our China trip, making his plate a super spicy one!

We then boarded our flight to Shanghai. Before even getting on the plane, we were reminded one thing about Chinese people. They know no personal space. As soon as boarding was announced, everybody gathered at the gate in a rush and with no order. But that is how it is in China. People don’t queue. And everybody talks to everybody. At first we thought they were shouting and yelling at one another. But no, they are simply becoming friends, talking about everything and nothing like they had known one another forever. And it is in such fashion that we met wonderful people on our flight. As we were gathered at the back of the airplane for a toast, people wondered what was going on and decided to join us.

And then we landed in Shanghai, managed to get all our gear back in the same flight (never quite an easy thing when your first flight is so uncertain!), and met with Yu Hui, who would be our translator for the tour! She introduced herself, and then we went outside to catch the taxis that would drive us to Nantong, 45 minutes away. But the taxis were late. And there were only 2, with not enough seats for us all, let alone the music equipment and the suitcases. Our expected 45 minutes ride turned out being longer than 2.5 hours, but we finally made it to Nantong! We checked in, gathered in the lobby, met the owner of the venue where we would play, and then went for dinner at a traditional Chinese restaurant!

And then came the day of the first show! Our first gig in China in 3 years… And words lack to express how excited we were! We had never played in Nantong before, and had never even heard of the city. In fact, when I told my Chinese friend I was now in Nantong, she had no clue where the city was! We woke up late (or tried to, blame it on jet lag!), spent some time all together until we got kicked out of the restaurant in the hotel – it was 3 hours past their closing time, but we had to watch the Giants game until the end! And then… Soundcheck! And what a soundcheck! The guys took the opportunity to do quite a few songs, which the staff greatly appreciated!

Little break (read nap), and then it was show time! And what a show it has been! The room was packed, people were on fire, and so were we! The band got on stage, and madness took over The Void! People were screaming, head banging, sweating, resting over the security ramp desperately trying to catch their breath in between songs, doing mosh pits and crowd surfing… The crowd was covered in sweat, beer (it seems like people in China enjoy using their beers to refresh themselves instead of water!), and cigarette smoke. But nobody cared. It’s a gig, it’s intense, it’s rock and roll. That’s just how it is supposed to be! We had a very memorable night, and great discussions with people from all over the world who came over to the gig. It was our first time in the city, and we can definitely say that Nantong left a permanent impression on us all!

We left Nantong early in the morning, drove to Shanghai, and from there took a train to Hangzhou. If the previous day we lacked room in the cars for all of us and the equipment, our translator Yu Hui made sure that this would not happen again. Indeed, we had a coach bus to ourselves. It felt somewhat weird to be so far from one another! We took the opportunity to catch some more sleep, some more than others. Because yes, some of us didn’t wake up when the bus arrived at the hotel – Sef in the occurrence!

It was already soundcheck right after we did check-in. And as excited as we were at the idea of playing tonight, tiredness had caught up with us all! We all walked back to the hotel, with the idea of catching some sleep before the show. But 45 minutes clearly wasn’t enough. We entered the venue, the 9 Club, which is also a restaurant. And it seemed that it was exactly what was going on; people came to eat! But as soon as the band was announced on stage, people amassed in front of the stage with a hurry like I have rarely seen before. They all wanted a spot in the first row! And with reason… That show has been complete madness! There may be a huge barrier language, as we don’t speak a word of Chinese, and because English is scarcely spoken here, but that night, nothing of this mattered. Music did all the speaking, and emotions needed no words to be conveyed!

We arrived in Wuhan after a long ride from Hangzhou. And it was great to be back there. We could remember everything, from the train station, to the hotel where we were staying (maybe not for the best!), to the street leading to the Vox Livehouse. The owner of the Vox is the one who welcomed us 3 years ago as well, and he was more than excited to see us again. He said he had never seen a band like us before, never seen a band so intense, and never seen a crowd so on fire for a band either – Chinese people are known for listening to a gig very quietly. The reactions he received when we were announced to play the Vox again were quite incredible, too. They remembered us from 3 years ago, and the word had spread about the band since that time, too! Even if it was the Strawberry Festival on that night, the club was full, many taking days off and riding trains for several hours to see us… Even cancelling their attendance at the Strawberry Festival… “We don’t know when you guys will come back, but there will be another Strawberry next year”!

And once again, the crowd went crazy! Applauses fused as soon as the first note of the song “A View From Within” started, and the rest of the concert grew up in intensity. The more intense the band was, the more intense the crowd was, which made the band go even crazier. I lost count of people who stage dived, Alex and fans alike, head banging was all over the place, we were once more covered in beer, Alex must have spent half the show in the crowd, as the crowd spent some time on stage as well… It was one special moment after the other. And for those of you who heard the story, this is the same venue where Alex jumped from the second floor balcony… And it happened again tonight, twice this time! This show marked the end of the first stretch of the tour for us… And we can say it has been a very memorable time! Wuhan was engraved in our hearts, and we can say that the love story we had with this city went to a whole new level of passion!

– Stephanie