Waking in Shanghai, a little worse for wear, we head for breakfast and coffee beside the Coy Carp pond at the hostel. We watch large white and orange fish with long dropping tails loll in and out of each others company and a larger yellow brutish-looking carp sporting a deft mustache, almost double the size of the rest, cruise at half speed in the shallows.
Strolling back over familiar terrain, we head to the Metro to make our way to Hongqiao airport where we’ll fly from to get to Guangzhou for the next show. We get to the airport, check-in and are gutted when we lose the whiskey we had incorrectly packed in our cabin baggage rather than checked in stuff. We also discover that somehow we seem to have business class seats and find ourselves fed and on the front row amongst the suits. The three hours from Shanghai to Guangzhou slip by.
Flying over Guangzhou is a mind blowing experience. The city is vast, sprawling and massive. Skyscraping structures as far as the eye can see, immense structures house who knows what. And it goes on and on and on. A truly staggering spectacle. It is like the Earth is a city.
Landing is uneventful, we collect our gear and make our way to the Metro, to the suburb where the show will be. Exiting the Metro, up the stairs to run street level. Here we meet the wonderful Kristen Ng who has been chief organiser for the next six shows and who will travel with us to Beijing. We’ve been in communication for sometime and she’s managed to book us a impressive tour covering many, many kilometers in our short space of time in China.
Having Kristen with us now is a massive bonus. Being NZ born to parents of Cantonese heritage, she has made China home for now, learning the Mandarin language, working in the Chengdu art space Nu Space as a skilled organiser and promoter, and now facilitating tours “Bringing weird bands from NZ to China since 2015.” In 2016 she helped Orchestra of Spheres get here, this year her help has been essential for us to get to where we’re going. Her blog Kiwese is a great read.
It’s noticeably warmer here. Guangzhou is not far from Hong Kong. A huge river runs through the city and there is music coming from the park across the water. It feels equatorial, smells equatorial.
We head off in the direction of the venue, unloading our equipment in a safe haven then head to find a meal in a small street side cafe. This area of Guangzhou plays host to many street artists and there is a vast number of elaborate styles and designs to look at on the way to the venue. Having Kristen help us order vegetarian options is immensely helpful … otherwise we’d be struggling.
Then we head back to Loft 345, collecting our gear then making our way to the venue. It seems the entire internal wall space of the building has been handed over to large street-styled artworks. The venue itself is an internal mid-sized room with good equipment and a bar. It’s also hot!
We are playing with a local group called Die! Chiwawa Die!. A five piece group playing interestingly-arranged hardcore, dual vocals that swing between screamo to catchy-pop-like melodic lines, keyboards, guitars and drums. A very excellent performance.
We follow Die! Chiwawa Die! and the crowd remains enthusiastic. We manage to sell almost all the cds we have and we’re a little concerned now we didn’t bring enough. But there’s plenty of opportunity to hang and chat with many of the locals, and bizarrely connect with someone who saw us play a random show in a back alley lane in Sydney years ago. Loft 345 seems to be a staunch d.i.y venue in the China circuit where a different way of working is still a relatively burgeoning concept.
Post show, we pack up and head by taxi across the city to our accommodation. Tomorrow Guiyang!