Fri, Feb 25, 2011 - Page 14 News List

Music: Caught between rock and a hard place

By Alita Rickards  /  Contributing reporter

If you can’t do it, Roxymoron can.

Photo: Alita Rickards

On a good night, the stress of running a live music house is worthwhile.

“This Saturday past was absolutely brilliant. The night started with a drag show, followed by Taiwanese band Hang in the Air (盪在空中), with DJ

@llenblow on bass,” said Darren Jorde, the new owner of Taichung’s 89K.

The people from the drag show mingled with the expat fans of reggae band High Tide, with the mostly Taiwanese crowd that came for Hang in the Air all combining to create “one of the best nights” the bar has had.

When Jorde — who has played bass in numerous bands including Milk, Black Lung Inner City Choir, Boogie Chillin’, the Rising Hedons and Money Shot Horns — took over 89K in December, he had already been doing the sound and booking for two years, he said.

“I played the first show ever in 89K five years ago with Black Lung,” he said. “Now I own it.”

But the journey has had its ups and downs.

“It’s a rocky road,” he said. “Sometimes you’re packed to the rafters and other times there is nobody there.”

The bar is open from Wednesday to Sunday, and he’s starting an open stage jam Wednesday nights.

“Whatever gets a response, that’s the direction we’ll go, like water flowing down a hill,” he said.

The job has it’s challenges. “DJs, who only have to deal with a power cord and a left and right, 90 percent of them will show up at 9pm to do a sound check,” Jorde said. “Then we get bands who have to do a full sound check showing up at 11pm,” when the show is supposed to start.

This past week turned into a bit of a gong show when Collider backed out of tomorrow’s event, and instead of the scheduled band Aurora, only two of its members (Alan McIvor and Sean Luo) have committed to performing. Then the band that Jorde signed up to replace Collider canceled.

Another band, The Homo Jews, was steadfast all along though its name meant Jorde was blocked from advertising the show on Facebook.

“I don’t know why, is it the ‘Jew’ or the ‘homo’ part? Seriously, is ‘Jew’ a bad word? Or are they each 50 percent bad?”

Then Roxymoron stepped into the breach.

On the plus side, Jorde said, “It turns out great. They [Roxymoron] are the perfect band for the night musically, and I was trying to find a place for them anyway.”

Roxymoron, a trio whose self-described sound is stoner rock, plays music that’s “frenetically danceable,” said Taipei-based musician Thomas Squires. “Think spiky minimalist guitars set against swirling background ambience, shouting vocals and baggy drum beats.”

Lead vocalist and bass player Ben Smith said the band’s focus is on getting people moving to the rhythm of his bass, John Stephenson’s drumming and Dan Semo’s atmospheric guitar.

89K is located at 21 Daguan Rd, Nantun Dist, Greater Taichung (台中市南屯區大觀路21號). Tomorrow’s show starts at 10pm and admission is NT$300.

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