A short train ride later on Tuesday morning and we were in the huge bustling city of Guangzhou, the region’s capital. After struggling to communicate our hotel’s address to the taxi driver, we suddenly realised how sheltered from “big city China” our stay in Shenzhen was. Nevertheless, we made it to our hotel, which fortunately was right next door to that night’s venue: T:Union.
Our soundcheck went surprisingly smoothly, and we became masters of the universal hand gesture..!
The Paul Show: if you’ve ever wondered what a FNMDJ soundcheck is like, it’s 90% this.
By this point in the evening, we were starving – so our very patient and helpful sound engineer took us to a small local fast food place. By “fast food” I mean just that – huge dishes appeared so quickly in front of us – but this was no McDonald’s. We each had giant bowls of the ramen-like noodle dishes we’d become accustomed to in Shenzhen, and some very tasty dumplings to accompany them. Paul’s chopstick skills were improving, although the slippery dumplings and wet noodles presented some difficulty..! We couldn’t chat much with the sound guy, but he found every splash of a dropped dumpling very amusing. Laughing at Paul is an international sport.
I was struck with how huge the city appeared. In reality, Guangzhou has a population similar to London, but because of the incredible height of every building it is far more claustrophobic and imposing. Additional roads, tracks and walkways ran several stories above pavement height, which gave the city a futuristic Blade Runner aesthetic.
For its relatively unassuming frontage, T:Union was pretty impressive inside, boasting a good-sized stage and pretty large floorspace. Unfortunately, for a rainy Tuesday night, this wasn’t as filled up as we would have liked..! Never mind – we’ve played to much smaller crowds and it never affects our sound (actually, these are often some of the most fun to play!). The audience, however small, were very receptive. In a very “small world” scenario, two members were Italian ex-pats living and working in Guangzhou. Ciao!
The desk began to pump out the late-night playlist (mostly Chronic 2001-era west coast hip hop, which was pretty excellent) and we grabbed a drink to digest our first night outside the comfort of Shenzhen. Was doomjazz going to sweep China? Maybe not in the mainstream, but the underground scene seemed to be excited to embrace it. The night ended in somewhat of a haze, after a mystery shot of mixed alcohol from T:Union’s promotor… I was certainly glad that our hotel was so close to the venue!