Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Music to their ears

Mayday became the first Mandarin rock band to perform at New York’s Madison Square Garden

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter in New York

Concert-goers interviewed outside the venue — Chinese and Taiwanese alike — took the news about Ashin and Mayday in stride, saying that he and his fellow band members have the right to express whatever views they wish, even if the audience disagrees.

Daphine Hu (胡丹), from China, said she has many Taiwanese friends in New York and said she would never let politics interfere in her relationships with them.

“I think democracy is fine, and I’m also against these kinds of ‘black-box’ negotiations,” she said, referring to the Mandarin word heixiang (黑箱), used to describe something that lacks transparency. “I just hope people are not misled. Kids are easily manipulated because of an issue. Kids might protest just for the sake of protesting.”

Alina Tseng (曾怡嘉), from Taiwan, said that Ashin’s views and his music “are two separate issues.” Her three girlfriends, who accompanied her to the concert, agreed.

“Ashin was speaking as a Taiwanese and not for Mayday,” Tseng said. “He might have been saying that passing the trade agreement might not be so good for Taiwan’s future. But if a music band wants to make money, of course, China’s market is so big. That’s what the trend is.”

Joe Nong (農炎昭), from China, added that he believed singers have the “freedom” to speak out about their own social and political views. “I personally want to see China and Taiwan united, so if Mayday made its political views more public, I probably would not be very happy,” Nong explained. “From another perspective, Mayday comes to China to make money because that’s where the market is.”

Mayday’s whirlwind tour, which began Feb. 8 and has taken the group across Asia, Europe and North America, will end in California at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Saturday. Chika Lin (林知佳), a spokeswoman for B’in Music (相信音樂), Mayday’s record label, said in a statement that one goal of Mayday’s Now-Here World Tour was to bring the group, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary, out onto the international stage and introduce westerners to its music.

While Asians made up most of the 14,000 fans attending the concert, there were some western faces in the audience. Ashin told the Taipei Times that this was the first time the band had toured more than 10 venues in Europe and North America, so naturally the audience would still mostly be Asian.

“But gradually, the second time around, you will see more and more western friends,” Ashin said. “And for our next tour, we will also have English-language singles.”

Ashin paused.

“Even the drums will sound like they’re speaking English,” he added.

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