Taiwan’s original punk rock crew, the Feirenbang or Useless Motherfuckers (廢人幫), coalesced out of a couple of Taichung high schools in the mid-1990s and invented themselves as a parody of a criminal gang, but instead of running full-service KTVs they played punk rock. There were about a dozen bands associated with the scene, the most famous of which was Anarchy (無政府), a mix of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday that managed to sell 5,000 CDs throughout Taiwan.
The gang’s leader, Allen Liu (劉培倫), played bass in Anarchy and other bands. But somewhere around 2005 he switched gears from punk to reggae, moved to Taipei and organized a new crew called the Useless Brotherhood (無用兄弟). He’s now bandleader of the dub ensemble Taimaica Soundsystem and promotes dance parties as DJ @llenblow. Having attained his mid-30s, naturally he feels it’s time for a retrospective, so he and his cohort have put together an exhibition of event photos, party posters and other art works and artifacts. It’s called Useless is Useful: Underground Culture Exhibition and unfortunately only focuses on the recent Useless Brotherhood years. The opening party is tonight at Revolver.
“The Feirenbang was actually like a gang, with initiations and stuff,” said Liu. Initiations could mean being pushed down a hill in a shopping cart or stripped naked in the cold. “But now Useless Brotherhood is just a group of friends,” he continues, noting that he is the only member common to both groups.
“Most of the guys from the Feirenbang are still playing music,” says Liu, adding that some still play punk, like the Taichung band Damnkidz, which includes two former members. Others have moved to other genres, like Hsiao Hsin (小鑫), who once was a punk guitarist but is now part of the hip hop group Hardbeat Attack.
Useless is Useful is free and runs from tomorrow through Nov. 25 at the Zhongshan Creative Hub (中山創意基地), 21, Mingshan E Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市民生東路一段21號). Tonight at Revolver (1-2, Roosevelt Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路一段1-2號) from 10pm the lineup is Taimaica Soundsytem, Otaku3, Hardbeat Attack and DJs Point, Hulu, Leo37 and DJust. Admission is NT$300.
■ LTK Commune (濁水溪公社) will release a new album next month on Uloud Music (有料音樂) and the advance tour winds up in Taipei tomorrow night at The Wall. We still don’t have an English name for the album, but it translates something like “Files from the Ghost Island Society” (鬼島社會檔案) and, as taike as ever, the cover is a collage of brothel advertisements and Apple Daily headlines. They also just released a music video for the song Guibanxian (鬼扮仙), a nakashi throwback which features band members dressed as politicians and setting off to kick the Japanese off the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), though in the end they all just have gay sex. The Wall, B1, 200, Sec 4 Roosevelt Rd (台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1). Admission is NT$600, or NT$500 in advance through indievox.com.
■ Underworld continues to hang on. Bar owners have held meetings with city officials and will improve access to its fire exits in an attempt to avoid future fines and beat a Nov. 16 deadline to meet fire codes. Shidahood Self-Help Association chairman Jerry Liu (劉振偉) has meanwhile brought criminal charges of intimidation (恐嚇罪) against neighborhood resident Hsieh Chi-hong (謝志宏), who sent him a copy of the novel Le Voyeur by French author Alain Robbe-Grillet. The novel is about a depressed traveling salesman who may or may have not murdered a teenage girl — the novel is intentionally vague. Liu told the Apple Daily, “Once I started reading, I found it was a book about murder, and I felt I was being shadowed. I was worried that [the guy who gave me the book] would do something, and this was extremely frightening.” I kid you not. This is Liu’s claim. Let’s hope the judge is not such a moron at literary interpretation.
Questions about Underworld have finally reached Mayor Hau Long-bin (郝龍斌), following an Oct. 26 protest at Taipei City Council that charged Hau’s administration with destroying independent music. Hau’s reaction to the outcry has been laughable. Along with a city councilor, he’s proposed that indie bands could occupy some of the crappy empty show-halls that the city wasted NT$13 billion building for the Taipei Flora Expo last year. A quick note from rockers to the mayor: We don’t want you’re recycled manure. We are giving you cultural industries for free, so stop shoveling the bull-hockey our way, and if your turds stink, then clean them up by yourself.