Monday, September 19, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers Live in Hong Kong

This post is one of the longer posts I will put up in this blog sheerly because it's the only overseas trip I've taken since 2008. This is about my trip to Hong Kong to watch the Red Hot Chili Peppers from August 8 to August 10, 2011.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers were supposed to have a concert in Manila. But for some reason, for the nth time, they cancelled on Manila. So instead, my good friends Briggs and Carol, and myself decided that if RHCP won't come to us, we'll go to them. So about a month in advance, Carol started booking our flight and hotel reservations. And we all filed leaves from our respective day jobs (albeit difficult). This was actually all our SunDownMuse bassist, Islaw's idea in the first place. He called and texted us after he had already bought his concert tickets online. He was excited at the fact of seeing us and a number of his other friends all converging in Hong Kong for the concert.

Briggs and Carol suggested that I sleep over their place on Sunday, August 7, 2011. So come Monday, we all can leave for the airport together. I was so stoked that Sunday. Waking up real early the morning after was a chore but willpower prevailed, with the help of coffee at the airport. Thankfully, our flight arrangements were at NAIA 3 airport. Therefore, we didn't have to toil with how chaotic things are at NAIA 1. Only in the Philippines would you have to pay airport tax AND an airport terminal fee, when most airports only had an airport tax or even none at all. That's the Philippines for you.

The flight was not really memorable since it only took about 2 hours at the most. I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and listened to my iPod the entire time. The Cebu Pacific stewardesses were running these games during the flight. But I didn't really given them much attention.

Arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport ushered in the realization that we were indeed in a different country. The airport is expansive and very well maintained as I remembered it.

I suppose it was my bratty preference to go for the path of least inconvenience. I got Briggs and Carol to agree to take a hotel transfer instead of taking any form of shuttle or bus to our hotel. All three of us were packing quite a bit of pocket money. Split that three ways and an expensive hotel transfer wasn't so heavy.

To even my surprise, our hotel transfer was way nicer than I thought it would be. This nice ass Mercedez Benz pulled up in front of us. We all looked at each other, smiled, and quietly told ourselves "Wow. Napaka-rock star natin. LOL!".

The ride from the airport to the hotel was pleasant as expected. That's what we paid for after all. Things have changed in Hong Kong since the days that me and my family lived there. However, some aspects remained the same. It felt surreal to be back in Hong Kong again; a weird homecoming of sorts.

We stayed at the Intercontinental on Kowloon side of Hong Kong. Carol having flown and stayed in Hong Kong on many occasions for business, happened to be some kind of VIP member there. So the room that we all piled in on was really nice. I felt a little bad that I had to technically sneak in to what was reserved as a room for 2. I actually wouldn't have minded paying for a separate room of my own. But Carol felt it would be much more cost effective to share the cost of a room 3 ways. Of course, she was right.

The view from our room was fantastic. Even though we were all tired, we decided to just drop off our luggage at the room and head back out to grab lunch.

We ate at the nearby "Outback" of all places. Frankly because we were hungry and didn't feel all that adventurous for our first meal in Hong Kong.

We still had to pick up our concert tickets at one of the branches of this music store chain called Tom Lee. The hotel concierge scribbled a winding path on a map that confused the heck out of Carol. I volunteered to be the map interpreter, and Carol immediately shoved the map on my lap while we were eating at Outback. So mustering all the intelligence out of my tired brain, we started making our way to Tom Lee after we had lunch.

When we finally found where Tom Lee was, Briggs and I were floored at how comprehensive the music store was. There was a section where you take lessons on a number of instruments of your choosing. They had several floors or sections dedicated to showcasing their inventory of instruments. There was whole section for pianos. There was a whole section for violins. There was a whole section for electric guitars. There was a whole section for acoustic guitars, etc. etc. And then I got to the section of the store riddled with drums and percussion gear. (Queue in angelic voices singing in choir unison). Carol knew Briggs and I were in a musician drool fit, so she kindly volunteered to go upstairs to get the concert tickets. After a few minutes, Briggs and I were off to our own little worlds looking at all the stuff they had there and instantly wanting to buy, well, everything.

Surprisingly, even though I tried so many percs drums and toys, I didn't buy a single thing. I had no idea how I was gonna lug all that stuff home. Briggs suddenly felt queasy. Apparently, the dish that she had at Outback was bad. So we headed back to the hotel, so Briggs could rest. We couldn't risk Briggs pushing herself for us to remain out for the rest of the afternoon. We flew to Hong Kong to watch RHCP, and that was really the priority.

After some detoxing in the bathroom, the pale and weary Briggs instantly passed out at our room. Carol and I surprisingly enjoyed just couch potato-ing in front of the TV for the rest of that afternoon. When it got dark, Briggs was surprisingly feeling better. But just to be safe, we decided to just order room service from the hotel.

Briggs and I were supposed to check out this bar near the hotel that had bands playing that night. But again, we were there for RHCP. So it was best to just sleep in rather than risk Briggs feeling unwell again.

Waking up the next morning was lazily relaxing. We really didn't plan to do anything for the trip apart from grabbing the concert tickets and watching the RHCP concert. But Briggs and I felt the urge to head back to Tom Lee and give everything at the store another look.

Once we arrived back at Tom Lee, the drool fest resumed. I wanted to take pictures of everything that was in there. But one of the store clerks, told me picture taking wasn't allowed. I'm not quite sure why it was forbidden. But the angry look on the store clerk's face was more than enough reason to taper down the picture taking. I just sneaked in a picture or two here and there while in the store.

Briggs saw a guitar amp that was relatively cheap for its wattage/power. So she decided to check it out. She just grabbed one of the many Fender Telecasters on display to road test the amp. The amp wasn't as good as we thought given that you had to crank up the volume more than most amps of the same wattage.

I snuck back into the percussion section and started grabbing a few percs toys that I wanted. I swear, it was like I was in a candy store. I wanted everything. But I had to be frugal with my purchases keeping in mind size and price.

After passing by a nearby Watson's for Carol, we surprisingly were done with what little we planned to do for the day by lunch time. We lazily walked back to the hotel through a scenic route. Hong Kong and its bustling streets always weaved some sort of spacious park here and there. I remembered Hong Kong as such and it seems those things haven't changed a bit.

Continuing to play it safe with the food we ate, we decided to have lunch by ordering room service at the hotel. We binged and lazed around the room. Any one of us was either watching TV, surfing the net, or sleeping. "Buhay-baboy" at its finest.

Later that night, I coaxed Briggs and Carol into taking a cab to head to the concert venue instead of Carol's plan for us to take a shuttle and the train. Again, my bratty attitude of just hopping into one vehicle to get to where I needed to go shown through once again.

The concert venue, AsiaWorld Expo, was huge! For such a big place, there was surprisingly not a whole lot of security there. I suppose it's because there is an assumption that hardly anybody would cause a ruckus there. The food and beverage stands were very organized and coursed through every order quickly. Of course, I made sure to buy a concert t-shirt right away, rather than wait until the end of the concert. And as true RHCP fans we all were, we put on the shirts upon purchasing them.

We called Islaw to come meet us at the concert venue. Him and his girlfriend, Agnes, booked themselves at the hotel right next to AsiaWorld Expo. The concert venue and Islaw's hotel was actually right next to the airport. Islaw really only wanted to watch the concert and then fly back to Manila. 

The arena itself was mind boggling. The floor area in the middle could've fit an American football field easily. The seats were nice. And the bathrooms were riddled on the sides of the arena, all conveniently reachable regardless of where you sat. We got some of the cheapest tickets in the venue because we wanted to be near Islaw and Agnes.

My Blackberry couldn't really muster any decent pictures of both Mars Volta (who was fronting RHCP), and RHCP. And although my Zoom Q3HD couldn't get decent video from where we were sitting, I tried my best to take videos of some songs that night.

After Mars Volta played their set, Briggs and I decided to head out to buy beer. We were worried that we wouldn't make it in time for the start of RHCP's set because of the long ass lines at the beer vendors. Suprisingly, the beer vendors really just churned out the beer orders fast.

As soon as we stepped back in the arena, RHCP just got onstage. Flea went up to one of the mics and shouted "What's up motherfuckers?!?!", and everybody in the venue instantly screamed with raised clenched fists.

Below are the videos that I managed to take that night. Although the video quality wasn't all that great, the audio came out nice. Do mind the incessant camera shakes. My Zoom Q3HD only has a digital zoom and being zoomed in all the way, it was difficult not to shake.

"Can't Stop"

This particular video of "Can't Stop" was one of the first songs they played that night. This part was noteworthy because Anthony Kedis said "Let's hear a little something from the Filipinos.", as if he knew that a lot of people from Manila would fly out to Hong Kong to watch them. I suppose he was told based on all the Philippine IPs ordering tickets online or something. As soon as Kedis said that, a third of the crowd screamed, indicating that about a third of the crowd were Filipino. Nice!


The band was now sporting both a percussionist and a keyboardist, which I found very cool. A percussionist integrated into a rock band. Yes! I am not alone!

They played songs from their last 2 albums, and a song from, at the time, upcoming album (The new album is already out now). Afterwards, they started digressing to playing songs mostly from their Blood Sugar Sex Magik album. Of course, a lot of RHCP fans totally love that album, and we were all relieved that they were playing their classic tunes.

"Under the Bridge"

"Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder Cover)"

I was surprised they pelted out Higher Ground that night. It was such an old cover song of there's.

"Sir Psycho Sexy"

This is actually when the encore songs started. The first part of this video was a percussion solo between the percussionist and Chad Smith, the drummer. I was so glad I was able to get that on video. Sweeeeet.

"Give It Away"

When they got down to their last encore song, I was starting to get disappointed that they haven't played "Give It Away". Lo and behold, they saved the best for last. Yes!

Soon after the concert, we all met up with a good number of "brad"-mates of Briggs' and Islaw's from UP Jammers. Some of them remember me from all the SunDownMuse gigs that they've watched. So I was treated like an honorary UP Jammers member. LOL!

The concert venue wasn't really in a location where cabs would pass by when the concert ended. So Briggs, Carol, and I decided to take the train back to the hotel like everybody else. Everybody who watched were obviously amped up on alcohol and RHCP music. We waited for the next train out to let the crowd all pile and squeeze in on the previous train.

The trains on this particular railway line were a lot nicer than in other lines. Perhaps this was because this was the train that also heads to the airport. Again, we were definitely not in Manila.

We got off at Kowloon side, and took a cab back to the hotel. We actually hadn't had dinner yet. So when we got back to the hotel. Briggs playfully pointed at the hotel bar where we saw a sign that a band was playing at. We guessed it right. It was a showband of Filipinos. LOL!

2 out of the 3 tables of people there were Filipino too. Of course, Filipinos primarily enjoy showbands like these. Edu Manzano was at one of the tables with some of his friends. Some random people on Twitter vehemently were asking me what hotel I was referring to when I mentioned that Edu Manzano was at the hotel bar I was in. I wouldn't tell them. They'll just have to somehow research their way into this particular blog post to find out.

Waking up early the next day to pack up and check out of the hotel was a slight downer. Of course, all good things had to an end at some point. We took the shuttle to a train station.  And from there we got on a train to the line headed to the airport. The cool thing about it was even though the train station was on the Kowloon side, is that you can actually check in your baggage from that station itself. Well this only covered most major airlines and not Cebu Pacific. But I thought that was a neat thing to have set up so that you don't have to worry about your bags on the train ride to the airport.

We got to the airport and checked in. We got there early so we decided to have breakfast at some restaurant inside the airport. The picture above is a snapshot of the restaurant's menu. I had to take a picture because of the Engrish spelling of "Lettuce" and "Macaroni". LOL!

The flight back home was quick. When we got to Manila, we really noticed the stark difference between how nice it is in Hong Kong compared to back in Manila. We took a cab back to Briggs and Carol's place. They suggested that I eat lunch and take a nap there instead of me heading home first.

This is because part 2 of the concert double header was up next. We flew back to Manila in the morning so Briggs and I could catch Korn at Araneta Colliseum that night. Of course, that will be another post entirely. ;)


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