Trying to come up in a fickle and at times indifferent musical climate is hard at the best of times. The independent music scene in Taipei is young, still finding its feet and largely struggling to define itself. Like a twenty-something stay-at-home overgrown adolescent, it lashes out and inward at itself in the fight for identity, oftentimes licking self-inflicted wounds. A few people within the scene are doubly subjected to these agonizing growing pains, functioning both as promoters and performers. Through tired eyes they watch the scene take almost everything they have, mentally as well as financially. But sometimes, the scene manages to give something back.
Hsinchu City’s (新竹市) Mike Huang (黃祐鼎) is one of those intrepid few brave enough to wage battle from the vantage point of the artist and the check writer. Huang got into hardcore music in 2001 after seeing New York legends Biohazard play at Formoz Festival, and was a fan for 10 years before he decided to try to build up the local hardcore scene by bringing in bands from overseas through his own organization, the Taiwan Hardcore Front (台灣哈扣戰線). In the summer of 2011, he joined one of the few hardcore bands in the country, Human Brutality (人類暴行), as their second vocalist. Then, in December that same year, he brought over Dutch hardcore mainstays No Turning Back for his first show, and began the journey through the highs and lows of being a promoter, a job which basically entails begging people to give a damn. It was an uphill battle from the beginning — a war of education rather than attrition.
“The hardcore scenes in other countries, most of them are based on the local punk scene,” says Huang. “In Taiwan, our hardcore scene is based on the metal scene, especially metalcore. It’s very difficult to clarify the difference between hardcore and metalcore, and people also don’t know much about the subculture of hardcore music.”
Through shows by the likes of Providence, heavy hitters from Paris, and Melbourne, Australia’s Crowned Kings, the die-hards came out, the fence-sitters did what they do, the people who couldn’t tell the difference between hardcore and metalcore, let alone be bothered to figure it out for themselves, sat back and scratched their heads. Huang eventually found himself at a familiar crossroads where the bottom line and passion intersect and a choice has to be made. Understandably, he chose to take a step back and reflect for a while.
Fortunately the hardcore scene managed to give back to the man who gave so much to it in the interim. In 2012 he met current Human Brutality bassist Gina Chiu (丘安惠), a longtime friend of the band and herself a die-hard supporter of the metal and hardcore community, and a hardcore romance blossomed. Now, the two are recently married, and this weekend they’re throwing a party at Revolver to celebrate featuring several of their closest friends who also happen to people the handful of hardcore bands from around Taiwan. It should serve as a reinvigorating experience for Huang, who is looking forward to getting the Taiwan Hardcore Front back in action as soon as May of this year. Hardcore taketh away, and hardcore giveth.
■ The MG Wedding Party takes place tomorrow night at Revolver, 1-2 Roosevelt Road Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路一段1-2號). Bands on the bill include Human Brutality, Silent Clamor (寂嘩), The Deposers (罷黜者) and Defeat the Giant. Admission is free, and the bands get going at 7pm.