Fri, May 24, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Live Wire: Recordings at the end of an era

By Lars Berry  /  Contributing reporter

Manic Sheep will play and record at Underworld this weekend.

Photo Courtesy of Ian Kuo

As its name implies, Underworld (地下社會) never aspired to be anything but below. Taipei’s classic purveyor of local and international independent music is literally and figuratively a basement. Still, despite its attachment to all things under, it has remained remarkably boisterous, even as gentrification threatens to turn the rest of its university neighborhood into something that smells suspiciously like a Starbucks washroom.

Underworld has closed before, remaining shut for months at a time. But it has always reopened, only to face new fines for bylaw infractions as well as pressure from the Shidahood Self Help Association (師大三里里民自救會), a watchdog over small businesses near National Taiwan Normal University (臺灣師範大學).

But this mounting pressure has finally culminated in an announcement of an official last day of business. So, enjoy this dirty jewel’s warm, moldy ambience while it lasts. Saturday, June 15 marks Underworld’s official last day of business. Will there be bitter tears and middle-fingers-raised-to-the-powers-that-be street parties? This is unlikely. According to Underworld staff, normal weekly scheduling (Wednesday through Saturday) of shows will continue up to June 15th.

The only real anomaly in the regular scheduling of shows is happening this weekend. For the second time in recent years — and the first since 2010 — Underworld will host a live recording event. Both tomorrow and Sunday will see bands performing in 30-minute blocks. Each set will be recorded and then later mixed and mastered. The plan is to release the resulting compilation on Underworld’s last official business day, June 15.

The lineup of bands both days is formidable and well worth the single-day ticket price. The two-day event is a good opportunity to check out some of Taiwan’s most established indie bands and, if you’re a sentimental person, give a last farewell. Among others, Forests (森林合唱樂團), Guntzepaula (槍擊潑辣), Qi lai Observatory (奇萊山觀測站) and Manic Sheep will be performing.

■ Acidy Peeping Tom (微酸的偷窺狂), Floaty, Qi lai Observatory (奇萊山觀測站), Long Hair Monster (長毛怪) and more tomorrow from 5pm to 11pm at Underworld (地下社會), B1, 45 Shida Rd, Taipei City (台北市師大路45號B1). Admission is NT$400, or NT$200 for any single band with a drink.

■ Guntzepaula (槍擊潑辣), The Sign of Human (記號士), Manic Sheep, Mass Man, Forests (森林合唱樂團) and The White Eyes (白目) perform Sunday from 4pm to 10pm at Underworld (地下社會), B1, 45 Shida Rd, Taipei City (台北市師大路45號B1). Admission is NT$400, or NT$200 for any single band with a drink.

Also tomorrow, for those who would rather be outside enjoying draft beer, fried chicken and, for slightly higher ticket prices, a 13-dish meal around traditional round tables, there is the Rock Bandoh Music Festival at the Taipei Brewery (建國啤酒廠). According to the event page, bandoh aka banzhuo (辦桌) “is the Taiwanese custom of feasting around large round tables, typically at special events such as weddings, or year-end company parties where people can reunite, reminisce and fill up on good eats.”

Appearing at the festival will be some of Taiwan’s longest-running indie bands, including legendary punk outfit LTK Commune (濁水溪公社). LTK Commune predates almost any other band still performing in Taiwan’s indie music scene. Also, one of the pioneers of Taiwan’s post rock genre, Sugar Plum Fairy (甜梅號), will dramatize the afternoon with their slow-building instrumental rock songs. Japanese export, DIE, headlines the afternoon of beer, food and new and old friends.

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