Last weekend had more good events than the entire rest of the month, and unfortunately many were going head to head. The weather was perfect. The Pride Parade was huge, drawing more than 60,000 spectators, according to various reports. Daniel Pearl Day had another big year with 2,000 plus, and this unfortunately left The Flaming Lips concert rather under-attended with only a few hundred fans. Perhaps chalk that up to the price difference. Tickets for the Flaming Lips — actually an all-day festival called Moonrise Kingdom at which they were headlining — cost NT$3,500. The Pride Parade and Daniel Pearl Day were free.
Taipei City had me very confused, putting out an Oct. 17 press release stating there has been huge consumer outrage over the “Burl” cancellation. Who the hell is “Burl”? Is there some hugely popular band of fuzzy gay men that I don’t know about? My apparent ignorance, coupled with a major uproar about a band I had never heard of, had me a bit concerned. What cultural typhoon had swept over this time, while I was wasting my time chatting on Facebook with my 1062 “friends”? But after a few reads, I realized it was a typo and that they actually meant “Blur,” which made much more sense.
Blur’s cancellation in May was much talked about at the time, but now it turns out that the promoter, Brokers Brothers Herald (BBH, 布洛克兄弟) has failed to refund much of the ticket money. Doh! The situation has gotten so bad that the Taipei City Consumer Protection Affairs Department is now issuing press releases. BBH is still not giving any money back, but they are offering to allow people to exchange their useless Blur tickets for one of two concerts next year, either Avril Lavigne on March 14 or K-pop idol Rain on May 17. Given a choice between “Sk8er Boi” and Korea’s male Jolin, Blur fans must be thrilled. Maybe the “Burl” fans will take it better.
Telepopmusik is one of those bands you have heard, even if you have never heard of them. Their music was ubiquitous during the 2000s as the soundtrack to television commercials, especially those of automobile brands like Mitsubishi, BMW and Peugeot, but also for IBM and Air France. This is all in fact featured prominently in the concert promotional materials, so one can expect a certain chunk of the crowd to be people who find music mainly through channel surfing or movie soundtracks. It is more than fitting that the show takes place at NeoStudio, which is in the heart of Taipei’s most concentrated shopping district, and handled by Tripper, a promoter that has done events for Ford, VW, Nike and SK-II.
But this is not to say that Telepopmusik’s commercial appeal makes their music wholly uninteresting. The French duo of 2Square (Stephan Haeri) and DJ Antipop (Christophe Hetier) started out in the early 2000s making downtempo electronic indie pop. Hits like Breath were pure trip-hop and, in their dreamy and icily retro vocal parts from singers like Angela McCluskey — who sings like a computer regenerated version of Billie Holiday — Telepopmusik found itself solidly in the company of other similar acts like Massive Attack, Portishead and Air. But in addition to their licensed-to-TV hits, they also fashioned a lot of tunes around chill-out house beats, often with some low-key hip hop vocal tracks laid over the top. From their earlier chillout, they have more recently continued on to deeper, eerier chillwave compositions and remixes. A third album is supposed to come out this fall, according to the band’s Web site.