Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 13 News List

Get your 'Freak' on

If you're tired of turgid hip-hop and sappy love ballads, break the lull of Lunar New Year at Freak Out Beast with a bevy of local indie bands and visual artists

By Ron Brownlow  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chet Liu and Wu Jin-hao

PHOTOS COURTESY OF JERRY FANF

What happens when a loosely organized music collective and a bunch of artists who like to paint graffiti and hold jam sessions in abandoned houses throw a party? You get Freak Out Beast (吵年獸), a free music festival, art exhibition and street fair that starts this weekend in Yongkang Park (永康公園).

The second Freak Out Beast music and art festival is being organized by members of KbN, (凱比鳥), whose song Urge (衝動) earned a Golden Horse nomination this year for best original film song. KbN (www.k-b-n.net) is one of Taiwan's better independent bands. If you haven't heard of them it's because they're a real indie band and don't seem to care much about promoting themselves.

"Taipei City is always so empty and boring [during the Lunar New Year]," said organizer and KbN member Jerry Fang (方宜正). "This festival [is for] people to get together, sing together, and have fun together."

Last year's Freak Out Beast included performances by 20 bands and DJs and drew around 1,000 people to Huashan Culture Park (華山文化園). That venue is currently unavailable, so this year's festival will be spread over four locations. Iost and 4am cafes are hosting art and photography exhibitions, Yongkang Park will host a "creative market" and serve as a stage for outdoor concerts this and next weekend. (A grand finale DJ party that had been scheduled for Feb. 16 at Spot — Taipei Film House (台北光點) will most likely not happen because the film house is undergoing renovations. Check the listings section in next Friday's Taipei Times for updates.)

Unlike mega festivals Formoz and Hohaiyan (海洋音樂祭), Freak Out Beast is low-key, avowedly anti-capitalist, and offers a great chance to connect with young artists and musicians from Taipei's independent music scene.

Performance note:

What: Freak Out Beast (吵年獸)

Concerts: Tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 10 and Feb. 11 from 2pm to 10pm in Taipei’s Yongkang Park (永康公園)

Exhibitions: Iost cafe, at B1, 11, Lane 199 Heping E Rd Sec 1, Taipei (台北市和平東路一段199巷11號B1) and 4am cafe at 38, Lane 308 Guangfu S Rd, Taipei (台北市光復南路308巷38號) from Feb. 13 through Feb. 16

On the Net: freakoutbeast.blogspot.com


"I think that this festival is quite a bold attempt because we are not so satisfied with pop music in Taiwan and we're not too satisfied with the music market," said scheduled performer Yang Shu-fan (楊書凡), a 23-year-old linguistics and anthropology student at Fujen Catholic University (輔仁大學) who started writing songs last year when she occupied a ruined building with a group of graffiti artists. "The basic concept of this festival is that we can play indie music for free and we can start our own activities without the support of some big companies or government institutions."

Freak Out Beast is named after the traditional Lunar New Year practice of dancing and using gongs, drums and firecrackers to scare away nian (年), the legendary monster that sneaks into houses to eat humans on New Year's Eve. But since there's no place to plug in an amplifier or drum machine at Yongkang Park, the performances there will be acoustic and unplugged. The 20 or so scheduled musical acts include artists from indie-scene bands like Vera Queen, Nylas and Public Radio. Some will do solo sets, others will have a guitar or two and maybe a conga drum for backup.

"I think simple is the only way to go. I don't need anything more, just a guitar," said Chet Liu (劉鎮), 25, who left KbN and after a period of introspection is launching a solo project. He takes the stage for an hour this Sunday at 3pm for what he said would be a "very friendly set." "This activity … is good for the society," Liu said. "The least art can do to save the world. That's all I'm aiming for."

Rhydian Vaughan, 18, from grunge three-piece The Wreckhords, said preparing for his set is a challenge because he's never been given a live acoustic performance before. "I'll play some cover songs, but mostly … my style, so it's not going to sound very similar to the original song."

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