This week there’s plenty of good news buzzing on the live music scene in Taipei, with the reopening of Underworld on Wednesday being credited in part to the surge of support, opinion and outrage from netizens who responded to the closure of the Shida institution in blogs, newspapers and online articles. Heralded by some as an act of civil disobedience, the “live house” is back in action and will be booking acts for September; bands can contact staff through email or in person at the venue (firstname.lastname@example.org). To read the full mission statement of the club check out the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/underworldtaipei); the English translation is a bit muddled but the message of social activism and the need to fight for our right to party comes through loud and clear.
That said, Wednesday was a pretty tame affair. The usual smoky, laid back environment had only one noticeable concession: packets of microwave rice and sausage and a single apple in the beer cooler.
■ Underworld (地下社會) is at B1, 45 Shida Rd, Taipei City (台北市師大路45號B1).
Back on the busking scene is long-time Ximen area musician Ken Lee Danna who plunged to 15-minutes-of-fame in January after a six-story fall from his balcony that left him in critical condition. He is now back on his feet and strumming up a storm.
Known as the Human Jukebox to fans due to his enormous repertoire of classic rock and pop hits, including a full-on version of Lady Gaga’s Pokerface, Danna has regained almost all of the feeling in his once immobile left arm and is able to play again.
“My occupational therapist recommended I practice with guitar along with a lot of other exercises,” he said in an interview this week with the Taipei Times. “It has helped quite a bit. I have to fake some chords but I don’t think anyone notices … [After the accident] I never thought I’d be able to play guitar again.”
Numbness in his fingertips impedes some of his ability, but doctors have said he will regain feeling as it continues to heal. His split pelvis and crushed L2 vertebrae are mending, but the prognosis for his paralyzed right leg is not as good. Still, he says he is stoked to be able to move around independently on crutches. The disability is causing him difficulties in finding work, which is stressful as the ARC his previous employer kept going for him is about to expire.
He has no recollection of the accident itself or of the ten days that followed, and said that the theory he was hanging a plant is “a legend.” All he knows is that he was sober, posting online and then woke up almost two weeks later in hospital.
■ Danna’s prime spot is at a Starbucks Coffee — 51, Hanzhong St, Taipei City (台北市萬華區漢中街51號) — in Ximen, from around 7pm to 10pm. Donations to his medical and living expenses (or teaching job offers) can be made by contacting him via The Ken Lee Danna Support Group on Facebook.
Tomorrow is your last chance to see Monkey Pilot (猴子飛行員) play for a while as the band will be taking a six-month sabbatical while various members leave to study music and experience life abroad after catching the travel bug when the Taiwan government sponsored them to play the Liverpool Sound City Festival in May.
The group will perform at Legacy with reggae and roots rockers High Tide, and the multi-lingual vocals of the duo Soler, comprised of Eurasian twin brothers Julio Acconci on piano and Dino Acconci on guitar.
High Tide’s horn section with trombonist Andrew Francis, Wesley James on trumpet, and MacGregor Wooley on saxophone also played on multiple tracks on Monkey Pilot’s newly released second album, Big Child.
“It was really hard to do the second album,” said lead vocalist Tony Wang (王湯尼). “It was different from the first album, [which] was pure rock punk music. This time we tried new styles: funk, surfing music [and] a little metal.”
Big Child deals with the effects that moving to Taipei from Kaohsiung had on band members and the transition from being hometown boys (and girl) to living in a place where, Wang said, there are “many people, [it’s] very busy, the people are more cold [and] there’s more competition.” The band has made a music video for track two that encompasses both the hectic pace of Taipei and the joie de vivre of the group’s ethos.
In the end, the album, like life, is about “keeping your mind like a child,” said Wang. “Don’t care about so many things and you can be happy.”
■ Doors at 7pm, show from 8pm, Saturday at Legacy Taipei, Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Center Five Hall (中五館), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號). Admission is NT$500 at door; NT$400 presale from 7-11 iBon or at Legacy.