On Wednesday night at The Queens, a plush, LED-festooned club on the 12th floor of the Core Pacific (京華城) mall that hosts live bands every night of the week, a group of more than 40 people gathered for what looked like a corporate party. Most of them were in their late thirties or older, and the men were wearing jackets and ties - not the kind of audience you'd expect to turn up for a show by Rabbit Is Rich (兔子很有錢), a raw, New York-style garage-rock band influenced by The Strokes, The Hives and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But several songs into the set, as the group's petite singer Andrea Huang (黃盈誼) screeched, yelped and strutted around in a black mini-dress with a glittering silver-studded belt, nearly everyone was on the dance floor, bobbing like pogo sticks and flailing their hands in the air as she sang, "I'm gonna, gonna, gonnna kick your ass. I'm gonna, gonna, gonnna kick your ass."
Arriving on the Taipei pub circuit last year with a gloriously blunt sound that distills powerful grunge chords through short and simple songs, Rabbit Is Rich is an echo of the garage-band revival that swept the West around the turn of the century. Guitarist and band founder Ethan Fang (方奕勝), bass player Adam Kuo (郭漢威) and drummer Roxy Lin (林志軒) rip off a bristling wall of sound with brittle guitar riffs, spiky bass lines and bouncing beats to frame Huang's exuberantly aggressive singing and freak-rock prancing and hair-shaking. The result is one of the most electrifying bands to come out of the college rock scene in recent years.
"They have energy," said The Queen's manager, who gave his name as Cool Jay (小傑). Speaking outside the club after Rabbit Is Rich's set, while a band of 50-year-olds covered classic-rock hits, he said he booked the foursome after seeing them play earlier this month at The Wall (這牆). "I like grunge, but now few bands do grunge. It's all punk."
Dec. 9, 5pm, at Tainan Municipal Cultural Center Performance Hall (台南市立文化中心演藝廳), 332, Chunghua E Rd Sec 3, Tainan City (台南市中華東路三段332號)
Dec. 12, 7pm, at Tunghai University (東海大學), 181, Chunggang Rd Sec 3, Taichung City (台中市台中港路三段181號)
Dec. 17, 7pm, at National Tsinghua University (清華大學), 101, Guangfu Rd Sec 2, Hsinchu City (新竹市光復路二段101號)
Dec. 31, 7pm, at The Wall (這牆), B1, 200, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1). Call (02) 2930-0162 or visit www.the-wall.com.tw for more information
Jan. 5, 7pm, as part of Antipop! 2 at APA Lounge 808 in Ximending, 6F, 152, Zhonghua Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市中華路一段152號6樓). E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0986-867-774 for more information
Rabbit Is Rich takes its name from the title of a John Updike novel. No one in the band has read the book; they just wanted a sentence for a name and thought this one sounded funny. The band's lyrics, written in English by Huang, are equally straightforward. I'm Gonnna Kick Your Ass was inspired by an annoying person, Rabbit Is Rich by a dream Huang had in which she was followed around by an anthropomorphic rabbit, and What I Hear is a song about "how some people always lie," said Huang, which makes you feel "uh huh, uh huh." Band members are all college students, aged 21 to 22. Fang met Lin in junior high school, Kuo in high school and Huang in college. Their favorite gig so far was at last summer's Formoz rock festival (野台開唱), because, Fang said, he got to wear a furry rabbit mask (he also has one made out of cardboard). Their least favorite performance was earlier this year at Longshan Temple, when they played in front of a bunch of senior citizens who sat around eating fruit and wanted to hear traditional Taiwanese songs.
Band members say they hope to stay together after they graduate from college but didn't let on to having many loftier goals. "We hope to play overseas later," said Huang. "If we can make a living by this, that's good," said Lin. "But if we can't, we see it as our interest."
To listen to Rabbit Is Rich's music and find out about upcoming shows, visit www.myspace.com/rabbitisrichsound