The Lunar New Year is just around the corner, which means we should be expecting the arrival of Nian Shou (年獸), the mythical monster that rises from the sea to prey on humans, especially young children, crops and livestock.
Lighting firecrackers and displaying the color red are the typical ways of scaring away Nian Shou and welcoming the New Year, but a group of musicians and artists in Taipei have a method of their own: live rock ’n’ roll.
The annual Freak Out Beast (吵年獸) takes place from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29 in Xinyi District. The arts and crafts festival, started by Jerry Fang (方宜正) and Cheer Hsieh (謝青翰) of electronica duo KbN (凱比鳥), was designed to have the feel of a street fair.
Now in its seventh year, Freak Out Beast has become something of a tradition for Taipei’s indie rock community, not to mention a monster of an outdoor event, with more than 50 live music acts scheduled to play on three stages and a big outdoor market to boot.
According to Fang, there will be 200 booths run by local indie designers and artists, selling handicrafts, fashion accessories and jewelry.
The market will extend from the outdoor walkway space between the Bellavita shopping mall and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store’s (新光三越) A4 outlet to the plaza outside of Vieshow Cinema (威秀影城).
The music stages will be located in parks near Taipei 101 and Taipei City Hall (台北市政府).
In past years, Freak Out Beast has mostly been composed of performers from Taipei’s indie rock scene. But Fang and Hsieh have been trying to diversify their program by adding different genres.
There will be a world music stage featuring groups such as Siyu Sitar (西尤樂團), which fuses Indian and rock music, and Toffee (太妃堂), which makes pop and hip-hop music with traditional Chinese orchestral instruments.
What: Freak Out Beast (吵年獸)
When: Jan. 27 and Jan. 29, from 2pm to 10pm
Where: Three locations in Xinyi District (信義區): Songshou Square Park (松壽廣場公園), across from Taipei City Hall (台北市政府); Plaza behind Taipei 101; Xinyi Plaza (信義廣場), across from Taipei 101 on Songzhi Road (松智路)
On the Net: freakoutbeast.blogspot.com or search for “Freak Out Beast” on Facebook; a map with schedule can be viewed at tinyurl.com/7qq9u2g
And there will still be plenty of familiar faces from the indie rock scene.
Hsieh says that one stage may be of particular interest to indie fans. Tizzy Bac bassist Levon Hsu (許哲毓) will be organizing a stage in the plaza behind Taipei 101 called “side project,” which includes a collaboration between members of Sunset Rollercoaster (落日飛車) and Go Chic, as well as a few metal bands.
Singer-songwriters are also featured on the lineup, with sets by Jelly Lee (李國瑋) of the funk-rock band Coach (教練) and Misi Ke (柯泯薰).
Meanwhile, fan favorites like eclectic reggae band Hang in the Air (盪在空中) and blues rock group Celluloid (賽璐璐) are scheduled to play at Xinyi Plaza (信義廣場), across from Taipei 101 on Songzhi Road (松智路). Popular post-rock group Aphasia (阿飛西雅) is also set to perform.
A completed lineup was not available as of press time because of last-minute venue changes. Fang and Hsieh are revamping the schedule, which will be posted on a Google Maps page that can be accessed through Freak Out Beast’s Facebook page, or this link: tinyurl.com/7qq9u2g
Fang sees Freak Out Beast as having a nomadic spirit, which is why the festival is held in a different spot every year. In the past, the festival has set up camp on Shida Road (師大路) and in Ximending (西門町) and Da-an Forest Park (大安森林公園).
The vibe is usually laid-back and relaxed, though this year may be different, given Freak Out’s location in one of the city’s busiest shopping areas.
Though the bands will certainly make enough noise to ward off Nian Shou, Fang says Freak Out Beast is unique as a music event because it captures the Lunar New Year holiday spirit of “getting together” and “sharing.”