Saturday, August 3, 2013

Get me to Gachuurt on (play)Time

On the way out to Gachuurt on our twice-monthly visits to Lotus Orphanage last year, we would often pass the Hotel Mongolia.  It always struck me as being slightly ridiculous.  Here is this big resort dressed up like an old palace or monastery, out in the middle of nowhere.  I suppose there are people who want to enjoy the beauty of the countryside without giving up things like private rooms with heat and electricity, but those people have obviously never had the thrill of starting their own fire at 6 in the morning.  Needless to say, I prefer a ger (especially if Five and Engrish are bringing the food!)
However, the Hotel Mongolia does serve for at least one function a year - it hosts the Playtime Music Festival (aka, the first proper outdoor concert I've been to since the 90's).  This is Mongolia's biggest live music event, so I decided I should go.  It's a 2-day concert, and now that I've been, I should have gone for both days, but I don't have a tent and I'm still broke (thanks to the fact that my school pays us in 10 installments), so I only purchased a ticket for Sunday.

Now, I felt a little bad about that, because good little Mormon girls don't go out on Sundays, so I decided I would go out there after church.  I packed my backpack with my camera, some snacks, and jeans to change into when I was ready to leave church.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?  I got to the bus stop before I realized I'd left my money at home, and as I was already 10 minutes late, I decided I'd ditch church after all, and watched several more episodes of Downton Abbey before dragging (and I do mean dragging - I had to fight myself every step of the way, because I was finally getting into this lazy-time vacation thing) myself out to Gachuurt.
I had to keep telling myself it would be fun, I would like it, and that I needed something to write about this weekend, and when I finally got there, it turned out I was right.  People go to the countryside whenever they can because it is just so damn beautiful.  Everyone was in a great mood - everyone's your friend at a music festival - the air was clean, and the clouds were puffy so I didn't even need that much sunscreen.
And, c'mon, who doesn't love festival food, even if it is Mongolian style?  I swear, I've grown to love khuushuur in the last few months, and shashlik - particularly from the Shashlik House - is not only delicious but conjures up memories of my dear departed (for other countries) friends.
How about the music, though?  Most of the acts were Mongolian bands, and because I'm totally lame I only watched three of them before heading back to UB.  The first one was Vatame, and I really enjoyed them.  They had a nice, vibey sound.  The second, Sir Alex, didn't really have anything special to recommend them, and I wandered off to eat some khuushuur at that point.  Afterwards White Shadow (pictured above) took the stage, and I was initially really interested to listen to them, because they had a violinist.  The songs that she played with them were good.  Their other music left me with this stunning conclusion: "scream" rock (you know what I'm talking about, right?  When instead of singing the main vocalist just screams into the mic?) doesn't appeal to me any more in Mongolia than it does anywhere else.  If they could lose that particular gimmick, they'd have a decent sound.
What else can I tell you?  From what I was there for (which is, admittedly, a very, very small percentage of over 40 bands) there was not a lot of variety in the music.  There were a couple of foreign acts, Japan's Mono and Russia's Storm, but what I'd really like to see next year are some Moonpies served up by Michael Quinn and the Bourbon Kings.  (Full disclosure: Michael and his sexy wife are good friends of mine, but they still kick some major ass, and you should check them out). All in all it was a fun afternoon, and I'm really glad I managed to break out of my inertia long enough to go.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out re #michael quinn and the bourbon kings ;)
    Let me know the deets for next year! Looks beautiful. :)