In a disreputable bar in Phnom Phen, Cambodia, I once saw two guys jam out a 40-minute tribute to Deep Purple with only an electric bass, keyboards and a microphone. While bored hostesses stared into video poker screens, one sang and played bass while the other used the keyboard for lead guitar, rhythm guitar and drums. You cannot find this spectacle in Taipei, but if you want to see how local bands similarly probe futility for genius, the expat funk ensembles of Milk, the Smoking Cones and the Mooks perform together at Huashan Music House tomorrow night at 9pm.
The top of the bill is Milk, a predominantly Canadian group of funk hippies that after four years of steady gigging has established itself as one of the hardest working bands in Taiwan. In addition to playing the live house circuits, they live the life of true rock mercenaries, playing regattas, night market events and hotel lounges. Their shtick includes a wide repertoire of funk, rock and metal and a knack for endless jams. If they are all about anything, it is playing live.
The Smoking Cones are a relatively new folk funk band out of Chungli that's quickly won a fanbase with tight musicianship and powerful vocals that provide as much groove and sway as any live act in Taiwan. As in old blues and soul, they sometimes preach out stories in the lyrics, and the delivery is never lacking. The rest of the time, it's pure hip-shaking.
The Mooks, who've been kicking around Tainan for at least half a dozen years, will open the evening with a mix of originals and obscure funk covers. Not to be outdone by anyone, they claim they're bringing around 100 fans from Tainan with them, who are already booked in a Taipei hotel and will also present a force at the club soccer tournament taking place in Taipei this weekend.
Huashan Music House (華山音樂館) is located at 1, Pate Rd., Sec. 1 (八德路一段一號) Doors open at 8pm and admission is NT$350.