City Weekend has an interesting look at some of the troubles that face Chinese bands trying to widen their appeal abroad. Recently, Wuhan punk band SMZB had an opportunity to tour the U.S. after being invited to participate at Washington D.C.’s Shamrock Festival. Unfortunately, they never made it there, thanks to visa problems:
Unfortunately, the band’s American dreams were shattered, due a rough reception by immigration in Detroit. Rather than board their connecting flight to Miami for the first stop on their tour, SMZB were detained and questioned for nearly three hours about their reasons for going to America.
The discrepancy came from the type of visa (tourist) they were issued and the proper (business) documents necessary for a punk band to perform in the “Land of the Free.”
Considered to be a money-making venture (obviously immigration officials have never been on a punk rock tour), the tour was nixed and SMZB never even made it out of the airport, sent directly back to China via Japan.
It was a crying shame for both SMZB and the people who didn’t get to hear them. It’s tough enough for Chinese punk bands to get past the visa requirements of their own country – original Chinese riot grrls Hang on the Box were forced to cancel their UK tour after the MOC deemed “them an inappropriate representation of Chinese culture.” To be stopped by another country’s restrictions makes it seem like almost a farce.
Still, at the very least it serves as a stark reminder to make sure you’ve got the right visas when going abroad.