Rather than return hate with hate, a video released over ten years ago depicting the murder of journalist and musician Daniel Pearl inspired thousands to commemorate his life and values in yearly free music festivals in over 100 countries.
Taiwan was one of the first, and continues the tradition tomorrow with a free festival sponsored in part by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). It features bands, two stages, food and drink vendors, second-hand clothing stalls, performance art and speeches.
“Chinese people are burning Japanese restaurants over the Diaoyu Island (釣魚台) thing … [Daniel Pearl Day promotes] racial tolerance and the rights of journalists,” said organizer and journalist Sean Scanlan. “I feel a commitment to that. There’s a concert and there’s a message. On the other hand, I understand that people just want to have fun.”
The Daniel Pearl Foundation’s mission statement is “to address the root causes of this tragedy, in the spirit, style and principles that shaped Danny’s work and character. These principles include uncompromised objectivity and integrity; insightful and unconventional perspective; tolerance and respect for people of all cultures; unshaken belief in the effectiveness of education and communication; and the love of music, humor and friendship.”
It’s the latter three that the 11th annual Daniel Pearl Day World Music Concert in Taipei focuses on, with music coming from bands that range from veteran electropop post-rockers We Save Strawberries (currently on tour) to newly born electric-Delta and hill country blues quartet The Wild Alibis.
The line up features Balkan music from La Cumbia Balkanska, jam band the Shiznits, Skaraoke’s blend of karaoke and jazz inspired ska, Dark Eyes Gypsy Jazz Band’s old world ambience, blues, jazz and classic rock by the Molting Crayfish and world music by Aashti (汎絲路樂團).
Singer-songwriter Huang Jiang-shiun (黃建勳) and his new solo project Insecteens moves beyond the post-rock guitar playing he did with Sugar Plum Ferry (甜梅號) into a more UK inspired sound. Sleaze (湯湯水水) is the band other bands are talking about right now, with jam session stylings enlivened by punk rock sensibilities. Blind Acid Date brings an emotive psychedelic rock experience. One of Taiwan’s best indie bands, 88 Guava Seeds will rock out at sunset; their last show at Revolver was explosively good. Other groups include punk rockers Inhuman and British-indie inspired The Ever So Friendlies.
DJs include Marcus Aurelius, @llenblow, Anti Hero and Hooker. “DJs are just as much music as live bands, man. I don’t want to be an old fuddy duddy,” Scanlan quipped. Performance art by eccentric act Monkeyfinger, aka David Clark, will present a scene from Edward Albee’s Zoo Story.
Booths include Animals Taiwan and second-hand vendor New to You, because “girls shopping for second-hand clothes is a form of entertainment. I don’t want to dismiss that because I see how much pleasure women have in shopping,” Scanlan said.
Other pleasures both sexes might enjoy include draft and bottled beer and cocktails, Mexican food from The Green Hornet and Macho Taco, Middle Eastern cuisine from Sababa, and Chez Brix’s homemade sausages, as well as gourmet raw vegetarian food from Delicious Taipei.
The venue is the new Taipei Hakka Culture Park just behind the Shida area, with grassy areas, an eco pond, covered boardwalks and terraced rice paddies. “[It’s] big enough to grow into, and close to Shida [which is] ground zero for music in Taiwan,” Scanlan said. “The number of college students in that area is high, this year was a conscious decision to appeal to Taiwanese kids. Foreigners already know the [Daniel Pearl] story and appreciate it but the potential growth area is the Taiwanese youth.”