For those who rocked through the 90s, the plethora of throwback bands that came through Taipei last week was a nostalgic treat. Twinkle Rock wrapped up the first leg of its annual festival with shows by the Smashing Pumpkins, Nelly Furtado, Basement Jaxx, and Garbage at TWTC Hall 2 (台北世貿二館). The Cardigans also came out from under the radar for a separate show.
The Smashing Pumpkins took to the stage last Friday night playing two of their most well known songs: Zero and Bullet With Butterfly Wings. While the band played Pumpkins’ songs from all eras, the focus was on Oceania, their latest album that was released in 2012 after the band regrouped with new members.
But long gone are the days when frontman Billy Corgan, the lone member present from the original band, donned shiny silver pants and eyeliner. The singer, who was once known for his intense stage presence, performed a mellow show in Taipei and interacted very little with the audience. But the Smashing Pumpkins has always been about Billy Corgan and the show he delivered was enough to satisfy hardcore fans.
The following night kicked off with Go Chic opening for Canadian sensation, Nelly Furtado. Furtado drew a placid crowd that responded to her folk style by swaying their arms from side to side. Last on the bill in what was a rather strange pairing, the Basement Jaxx hit the stage and transformed the venue from a leisurely concert into what felt more like an underground rave. Furtado’s crowd either found their second wind or was saving their energy for the Jaxx, because people started dancing. And they danced hard. The duo from London, who are best known for songs like Where’s Your Head At, played a DJ set rather than a live show. But if fans were disappointed, it didn’t show.
After a few days off, festivalgoers reconvened at TWTC for Garbage last Wednesday. If there is one thing to say about the show, it’s that Garbage’s stage presence is something spectacular.
At 45, it’s clear why Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson doesn’t appear to have aged much since the 90s. Manson literally ran laps around the stage in what was the most high-energy performance of the series, all the while bantering with the enthusiastic crowd. Manson looked great and sang great, showing the audience that even after a seven year hiatus, this band has not lost its edge.
Manson had obviously done her homework as she talked a lot about her love for Taiwan and its culture, which drew numerous roars from the crowd. She also repeatedly advocated individuality and responded to a journalist’s question from earlier in the day on stage.
“I just want to be perfectly clear, Garbage loves gays!” shouted Manson. “Anyone who thinks outside of the box and anyone who wants to live outside of the box. Boys who want to be girls, girls who want to be boys.”
Finally, and in a show unrelated to Twinkle Rock Festival, The Cardigans played at the National Taiwan University Sports Center (台大綜合體育館) on Thursday.
Nina Persson, the band’s lead singer, was noticeably weirded out by the stiff set up in the venue as the audience had been seated in folding chairs. Two songs in, Persson encouraged everyone to their feet and fans eagerly swarmed the front of the stage.
Perhaps the organizers felt it was going to be a soft show, as one might expect after listening to one of the many Cardigans albums. But they came and they rocked, with a few ballads in between.