Wed, Feb 28, 2007 - Page 13 News List

Tune in, turn on, tell the truth

Organizers have toned down the anti-China rhetoric and this year's Spirit of Taiwan concert is all about truth and reconciliation

By Ron Brownlow  /  STAFF REPORTER

Left, film director Cheng Wen-tang and DJ Lim Giong.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TRA

Prog-tinged indie rockers and two-time Brit Award winners Muse join eight Taiwanese and foreign bands at today's Spirit of Taiwan (正義無敵) music fest, the latest incarnation of Taiwan Rock Alliance's (TRA) annual concert held to commemorate the 228 holiday.

The lineup includes Japanese punk girls Akiane (秋茜), anarchist indie rockers LTK Commune (濁水溪公社), revolutionary Czech group Plastic People of the Universe, exiled Chinese band Punk God (盤古), and US punk and melodic hardcore band Strike Anywhere. The festival runs from noon to 10:30pm at Taipei's Zhongshan Soccer Stadium (中山足球場). NT$1,500 tickets are available at the door.

Originally called "Say No to China" and later renamed "Say Yes to Taiwan" (the Chinese name "反中國併吞和平演唱會" translated as "Anti-China annexation peace concert") the concert has been held annually since 2000 on or around the 228 holiday, which commemorates the 1947 massacre of an estimated 20,000 Taiwanese by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops.

Organizer and TRA head Freddy Lim (林昶佐) — whose death metal band Chthonic (閃靈樂團) takes the stage at 7:40pm — said the festival was given a new name to promote reconciliation amid Taiwan's mounting political and social problems. In recent years 228 has taken on an increasingly powerful meaning, especially since the rise of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), driving an enormous wedge between the ethno-cultural entities described by the terms Mainlanders (外省人) and Taiwanese (本省人).

Unlike past concerts that protested China's military threat or efforts by MTV and other entertainment media outlets to cozy up to Beijing, this year's themes are national unity, solidifying Taiwan's democracy and resolving conflicts left over from the country's authoritarian past.

Several of the foreign bands have a history of performing at human rights-related events — Muse performed at Live 8 and the Frank Zappa/Velvet Underground-influenced Plastic People of the Universe were instrumental in Czechoslovakia's resistance against communism. Others are known for their political stances — Strike Anywhere rails against police brutality and capitalism, Punk God's slogan is "revenge for the people" (為人民報仇), and Akiane frontwoman Moe Suzuki has marched with DPP members and written political music about Taiwan.

"We're strong believers in rock 'n' roll as the music of protest," said Punk God singer Ao Bo (敖博), who along with fellow band member Duan Xinjun (段信軍) decided not to return to China after performing at Say Yes to Taiwan a few years ago. During a stopover in Bangkok a friend called Duan to tell him that Public Security Bureau officers were casing his parents' home. Duan and Ao Bo received political asylum from and now live in Sweden.

This year's musical lineup is smaller than usual but performance-wise contains few weak links. LTK is known for its raucous and sometimes incendiary onstage antics, Tizzy Bac always attracts a legion of eager fans, and earlier this month Muse won a Brit Award for best British live act — the second time they have received the honor.

Also scheduled are screenings of films like Hotel Rwanda and The Story of 228 (傷痕二二八) and brief speeches on human rights between sets. A portion of the profits from Spirit of Taiwan will be donated to Amnesty International, Taiwan Association for Human Rights and Forum Asia Democracy.

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