What appears to be a sumo wrestler runs around the stage in a latex pink mask and a huge pink diaper. Three girls of varying sizes in elaborate costumes wail away on horns. The guitarist’s cape billows in the smoke, the bass player’s glitter reflects the stage lights, and the fishnet body stocking- and thong-clad drummer pounds out an irresistible beat. It’s like a little piece of Japanese weirdness has just dropped fully formed out of the sky and onto the stage. Meet Mimie Chan.
Members of the seven-piece ska band were a Spring Scream staple from 2000 to 2008 but their loyal following of Screamers have had to make do without them for the last couple of years as the whole band was on hiatus. Now they’ve reunited, and though they were unable to make it in time for Spring Scream this year, they arrive this weekend to take part in Urban Nomad’s festivities.
Their “mind-blowing” shows were an inspiration to other musicians, said Spring Scream founder Wade Davis, who will come up to Taipei from Taichung to catch them. “They take full advantage of the stage,” he said. Their costumes — from bumblebees to geishas to wrestler masks and superhero outfits — and range of instruments lead to a high-energy performance and “fun, danceable music,” said Davis.
Their music is a cross between noise-punk, classic punk, ska and pure Mimie Chanism. “Our songs have no meaning I think,” said guitarist Yutaka Ozawa. “We have two albums and we just made lyrics that same day at the studio,” he continued. “We just put some words together. One song goes ‘What is this crunchy thing?’ and the answer will be ‘Just wait one more day.’”
Is there any meaning behind their outfits? “We just want to wear some costumes [because] it makes the show funny,” said Ozawa. His getup tomorrow will be “some kind of dress and a fan so the wind makes it look like flying,” he said. What about the band name? “Means nothing,” he said. “Could be a cat or dog’s name ... ‘Chan’ is for ‘little girl.’”
Does any of it mean anything? “We once tried to make a song about an alien creature named Mimie Chan. Our first concept was ‘Mimie Chan went shopping,’” he said, laughing.
Also playing at Urban Nomad’s annual party (in conjunction with the film festival) is eight-piece band Skaraoke, which includes a full horn section, and Touming Magazine (透明雜誌). The latter was started by lead singer/guitarist Chimpanzee (洪申豪) and guitarist Tang Shi-jie (唐世杰) after their emo band Fall of this Corner (一隅之秋) broke up in 2005. With influences like The Pixies, Sonic Youth and Fugazi, they use jazzy drums and heavy guitar effects to create a high-energy sound.
Finishing up the night will be DJ Floaty with his eclectic, eccentric, diverse range of music that rocks Underworld (地下社會) and Fucking Place (操場) crowds on a regular basis.
It’s a night for musicians and music lovers, and the film being screened at the party — Favela on Blast — fits the bill. The documentary, set in the favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro, follows Wesley Pentz aka DJ Diplo as he explores the music and dance phenomena Baile Funk (built around remixes of 1980s American dance beats and Brazilian samba music) as it sweeps through violent gang turf.
Documentaries take center stage at the festival this year with the film everyone has been waiting to see — The Cove — premiering tonight at 7:30pm at the Armed Forces Cultural Center at 69 Zhonghua Rd, Sec 1, Xindian, Taipei County (台北縣新店市中華路一段69號). There’s an after-party later with Mimie Chan’s “sumo wrestler” Yusuke Shimizu as DJ Pencil on the decks. See Urban Nomad’s Web site (in the box) for details.
Tomorrow’s party at Huashan 1914 Creative Park's (華山1914), Warehouse E3 (烏梅酒廠) starts at 8pm with the documentary, followed by bands from 10pm. Expect to see many of the main players in Taiwan’s expat music scene turn up to catch old friends Mimie Chan even if they, like Davis, will have had to travel from out of town for the event.
“We now feel happy with the fact we didn’t sell our musical instruments for money,” said diaper-wearing Mimie Chan member Shimizu, who contributes “excitement and keyboards” to the band, when asked about the reunion.
WHAT: Urban Nomad presents The Return of (the Legendary) Mimie Chan!
WHEN: Tomorrow from 8pm. Documentary Favela on Blast starts at 8pm, bands start at 10pm
WHERE: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Warehouse E3 (烏梅酒廠), at 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)
ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$500 at the door and NT$400 in advance, available at KGB, 5, Ln 114, Shida Rd, Taipei City (台北市師大路114巷5號) and at both Toasterias, 2, Ln 248, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市忠孝東路四段248巷2號) and 1, Ln 72, Yunhe St, Taipei City (台北市雲和街72巷1號)
ON THE NET: urbannomadfilmfest.blogspot.com
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