Taiwan’s pop elite and their legions of fans were out in full force for the Urban Simple Life Festival (簡單生活節) at Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914) in Taipei this weekend.
Indie pop superstars and headliners Crowd Lu (盧廣仲) and Cheer Chen (陳綺貞) drew immense crowds at the main outdoor stage in the expansive park area behind the Huashan grounds. Organizers said 20,000 people attended on Saturday.
Indie music fans also got their fill with top-notch performances from Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, who performed solo, and Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale, whose four-piece band played a solid, scorching set of modern rock. While Lu and Chen packed the entire field, Cale’s set was arguably the musical highlight of the day.
Singer-songwriter Suming’s (舒米恩) uplifting set of indie-pop and Aboriginal folk opened the main stage to an enthusiastic response; Singaporean Mando-pop/bossa nova singer Olivia Ong (王儷婷) drew lines out the door at Legacy Live House; and post-rock fans gathered for an acoustic set by Orangegrass (澄草) at the second outdoor stage.
But if anyone kept true to the festival’s intended spirit of keeping things simple, it was Dave Pirner, the only solo acoustic performer on the main stage on Saturday.
He kept onstage banter to a minimum, preferring to barrel through classic Soul Asylum material. Pirner performed many songs from the band’s multi-platinum Grave Dancer’s Union. Though die-hard fans might have missed the rest of the band, it was hard not to appreciate Pirner’s raw and passionate delivery.
As a New Orleans transplant, he dedicated Black Gold to victims of the BP oil spill, and also played Summer of Drugs, a classic from Louisiana-born songwriter Victoria Williams.
Pirner obliged the audience with a few of Soul Asylum’s biggest radio hits — Runaway Train, which was nice to hear as a solo version, and the ballad Without a Trace, which concluded his show.
After the latter song, the punk in Pirner made a brief appearance. As the song finished, he lifted his guitar over his head, posing to smash it, Clash-style. Then he suddenly swung the guitar under his arm and smirked as if to say “just kidding,” thanked the audience and walked off the stage.