The Taipei International Jazz Festival launched its weekend finale on Friday evening at the 228 Peace Park amphitheater with top-notch performances by musicians visiting from the US, Belgium, and the Netherlands, who taught last week at the Taipei International Jazz Academy, an annual one-week summer camp dedicated to cultivating up-and-coming talent in Taiwan. The finale also featured student performances throughout the evening.
The 2,000 or so audience members didn’t seem to mind the typically stuffy summer evening in Taipei as they listened to Dutch vocalist Denise Jannah, who charmed attendees with personable stage banter and her clear, exquisite voice. She sang a variety of styles, ranging from jazz standards to numbers tinged with Caribbean rhythms. The Suriname-born singer’s smooth delivery was enhanced by rousing improvisations, in particular from violinist and festival founder Hsieh Chi-pin (謝啟彬) and guitarist Fabien Degryse.
Thousands attended the Formoz Rock Festival, which took place at the soon-to-be-closed Taipei Children’s Recreation Center (台北市兒童育樂中心) over the weekend.
On Saturday, a large crowd of 400 or so people jostled in front of the Rock stage to watch festival founder Freddy Lim’s (林昶佐) band, Chthonic (閃靈), whose members donned their usual black leather costumes and face makeup. Lim screeched, yelled, and growled as his band played frantic speed metal riffs, which had the audience headbanging and moshing.
In fine Formoz tradition, there was something for every rock fan: on the Fire stage, garage rock band Rabbit Is Rich (兔子很有錢) held a rousing show. The band members got lost in their songs, which started at a mid-tempo hypnotic beat and ascended into a punk frenzy. Meanwhile, a large crowd gathered at the Wind stage, to see popular alt-rock singer Deserts Chang (張懸) and her band.
One of the evening’s highlights was the Canadian band Caribou, which played a set of atmospheric but driving indie rock instrumentals, accompanied by a light show. The band’s leader and drummer, Daniel Snaith, is a spectacle by himself, perhaps a modern day Keith Moon gone avant-garde. With his drum kit placed at the front of the stage, Snaith’s arms swung wildly as he pounded out the beat.
The festival organizers revised the lineup yesterday as typhoon Fung-wong approached the country.
Shots rang out inside Taipei’s National Theater on Friday night as balaclava-clad extremists stormed the stage and down the aisle, taking the three-quarters full theater hostage. One burly terrorist planted a bomb two seats over from where I was sitting and then sat down with the trigger device in his hand.
Such was the tense spectacle that La Fura dels Baus confronted its audience throughout Boris Godunov, a play by the Spanish theatrical group that fuses the original work by Alexander Pushkin with the story of the Moscow theater hostage crisis when roughly 50 Chechen rebels seized a crowded Moscow theater in October of 2002.
La Fura’s meditation on using violence as a means of grabbing power succeeded in revealing the individual motivations behind the terrorists — though without justifying extremism — and in the process humanized them in a way that the media often fails to portray.
Large projection screens were used to great effect and served as both a background set to the actors on stage as well as to show the action outside the theater — such as government officials trying to decide how to proceed with negotiations or police surrounding the building (presumably filmed earlier in the week).
La Fura’s greatest success, however, was how it made use of the entire theater. Not content to relegate its actors to the stage, the characters were brought out into — and at several points became part of — the audience watching the show. Doing so helped to create a masterpiece of verisimilitude rarely seen at theaters in Taiwan.
When Auntie Su (蘇) was evicted from her apartment last Monday, locals were so overjoyed that they sent thank you wreaths to the Tainan Police Department. “Justice has been served.” “Punish villains and eradicate evil,” read some of the notes. “Thank you, hardworking police for bringing peace and quiet back to Tainan!” a neighbor posted on Facebook. Auntie Su is a notorious “informer demon” (檢舉魔人), someone who is known to excessively report violations either for reward money or — depending which side you’re on — to serve as a justice warrior or a nosy annoyance. Usually they are called “professional”
In Taiwan’s foothills, suspension bridges — or the remnants of them — are almost as commonplace as temples. “Suspension bridge” is a direct translation of the Chinese-language term (吊橋, diaoqiao), but it’s a little misleading. These spans aren’t huge pieces of infrastructure. The larger ones are just wide enough for the little trucks used by farmers. Others are suitable for two-wheelers and wheelbarrows. If one end is higher than the other, they may incorporate steps, like the recently-inaugurated, pedestrians-only Shuanglong Rainbow Suspension Bridge (雙龍七彩吊橋) in Nantou County. Because torrential rains hammer Taiwan during the hot season, the landscape is scarred by
With his sugarcane juice stall at Monga Nightmarket (艋舺夜市) floundering due to COVID-19, things took a turn for the worse for Lin Chih-hang (林志航) when he was furloughed from a part-time job. The crowds are trickling back to this nightmarket in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), but Lin is now so busy that he has hired a friend to run his stall. As the sole driver of the night market’s delivery service, established on April 12, Lin takes on an average of 20 orders on weeknights and over 60 on weekends, with his father helping out when he is too busy.
Eslite Gallery will hold an open house at their new gallery tomorrow in Taipei’s Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. The doors to the new space will open at 4pm and will feature works by local and international artists. As a nod to the ongoing pandemic and Taiwan’s handling of it, the gallery also announced a project called Artivate, calling on 12 of its artists to emblazon details from their artwork on cloth masks. Participating local artists include Jimmy Liao (幾米), whose illustrated books with simple stories about people coping in the modern urban world have become hot sellers across Asia, and