non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand

Guiyang – a do-do run run.

Leaving Guangzhou just as the temperature stats to rise. This city is close to Hong Kong and therefore the equator. I’m told it’s 31° at 8 am. Close by to our hotel we find breakfast in a street food enclave of noodles with pickled beans  and lettuce. We also grab pancakes,  red-bean buns, 2 minute-noodles and other supplies for the train ride.

The Guangzhou train station is truely gargantuan – the main streets of any smaller NZ town would easily fit inside this complex. Miles and miles of polished rock slabs as flooring, the same rock as we’ve seen in many other buildings. It must be incredibly hard wearing for the thousands that pass through daily. Archeologists in the future with find these epithelial plates from some shredded mountain from somewhere else. We find out later that the origin of the rock is Africa.

We get to the bullet train. We move swiftly through the landscape. Greens and greys of hillside and inhabited zones lurk in the obscuring grey haze – a physical layer, a dermis of particulates, a cataract to the eyes rendering the vision obscure. Slowly the architecture morphs to a style more representative of classic Chinese pagodas. Tiered roofs briefly take over from the angular concrete apartment blocks.

The temperate drops as we head inland to the northwest. The train is full for our entire journey; a constant stream of arrivals and departures slide to and from allocated seats. It’s comfortable enough. We munch on our snacks along the way. There is boiling water freely available on every train, so prepping and consuming noodles on the train breaks the journey. Todays are particularly hot!

The ride takes about 6 hours. The  fastest I noticed the train going was around 230kpm.

We arrive in Guiyang and get a taxi to the venue. Guiyang is a Tier-4 city, so not very big by China’s standard, but to us it remains huge and is densely housed with skyscrapers.

Arriving in the centre of Guiyang we find Jinn’s Livehouse, our the venue underground. Named after the owner, it is the only venue in Guiyang for original and alternative music. The space is brilliant, so much more than a conventional venue. Beyond the stage and bar Jinn has provided a practice room for locals to come and experiment with new sounds. There is a group practicing when we arrive and the music style is a combination of conventional rock and what sounds like local dialects and melodic scales, using local and traditional instrumentation. One of the musicians is playing a stringed instrument with three pairs of strings. The combination of voice, trad. instruments and rock songs is fantastic.

We sound check and then go for a fantastic tasting meal in a street side eatery. Jin is our guide for this meal time and makes a selection of colours, smells, tastes and textures that blows our heads away. Spectacular.

We head back to the venue, and the first band is about to start. 走失的小马 (Lost Horse), a  three-piece band that sounds like a cross between alt. rock and Neil Young in his Rust Never Sleeps stage and a mash up of those local dialects and melodies discussed earlier. It works really well and sounds unique.

We go to get ready for our set, make-up and costume. The first band’s set is shorter than we expect so we need to rush. And then the spicy noodles return! It’s a hell of a thing to hear the bass tuning up on the stage while emergency ablutions are required as a gut takes a turn for the worst! More than you may want to know but this is an often undiscussed side of touring. And the fear of ‘evacuation’ on stage is a real thing, it’s never happened yet, and may it never ever happen!

We manage to both meet on the stage at the same time and deliver a good set. We discussed the shared predicament with Kristen later and she says she had no idea. And no accidents were had! Bravo!

Our accommodation is upstairs from the venue, a gaudi red and gold foyer into the hotel. The accommodation is sandwiched between the venue and a nightclub upstairs where the local sex workers work from, we know this by the advertising found underneath our rooms door.

The night has a restlessness to it as the noodles continue their journey.

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