Live Wire: Free for all

By Alita Rickards  /  Contributing reporter

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 - Page 11

Kudos to indie venues that have managed to not only hold on but thrive in 2012 during what feels at times to be a witch hunt against live music venues and independent businesses.

Roxy Rocker, known for its extensive vinyl collection (with DJs who will spin anything you want pulled from its sleeve) has begun holding live music shows, free of charge.

“We open the opportunity for people who want to listen to live music and if they don’t know the band, they don’t have to stress about buying the tickets,” said Emily Cheng (鄭卉君), who does the bar’s PR. “For bands, they also have more chances to get new fans.”

Owner Ling Wei (凌威) is a Taipei institution, with his chain of Roxys dating back (like many of his albums) to 1988. Roxy Jr originally held court for the early indie scene in Taipei.

“Running a live house is restricted by many laws,” Ling said. “Roxy always has to find and create the possibility for live music.”

With bluesy rock indie band Trash having a pre-release showcase tonight to warm up for their upcoming album release at The Wall on Dec. 26, ska group Mary Bites Kerry on Dec. 21, and the reunion of Ween tribute band Skycruiser on Dec. 22, the venue is hosting a wide variety of genres, said Cheng.

“The stage opens for any kind of band who loves to play,” said Cheng.

Skycruiser’s lead singer and Ween aficionado Toby Garrod is returning to his former home of Taipei from new stomping grounds in Hong Kong for a series of shows, including New Year’s Eve at Revolver.

“The band never quit,” said guitarist Alex Ives. “Toby just had to leave to pursue his dream of becoming an international playboy.”

The group has accumulated 30 songs, and “there are still a lot of great tracks we haven’t touched yet” said Garrod. “It was always the plan that I would come back roughly every six weeks and practice with the hope of playing about six gigs a year. I haven’t quite stuck to the plan so far, but I think it’s about to come to fruition.”

■ Doors open at 8pm and bands from 9pm. Roxy Rocker, 177, Heping E Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市和平東路一段177號). Admission is free.

Also back in action this weekend is Deadly Vibes, a riotously catchy rock ‘n’ roll band who have been “coaxed out of semi-retirement,” according to guitarist JD Long, for Revolver’s two-year anniversary party on Saturday. The three floors should be packed with live music enthusiasts, musicians, DJs, and bar flies to celebrate the success of the live music house, pub, and now cafe. (Deadly Vibes will also be playing Jan. 19 at Roxy Rocker).

Long is stoked to be playing the anniversary party and said he thinks founders Leeroy Ransom and Jez Gray “deserve a pat on the back, a handshake and a hug for giving Taipei such a cool space. It’s not easy to have a live music venue in Taiwan’s current environment, with all the crap surrounding fire codes and live house licenses. But they have managed to wade through all the shit and create an awesome place.”

Skaraoke’s frontman, Thomas Hu (胡世漢) concurs. “Ever since they opened, there have been so many great shows and parties there … so many different styles of bands and DJs for the good mix of locals and expats.” Formosa Romance and DJs Marcus Aurelius, James Ho and Robi Roka will join Skaraoke and Deadly Vibes.

■ Bands take the stage from 10pm, Revolver, 1-2, Roosevelt Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路一段1-2號). Admission is free.

A final belated shout out goes to Kaohsiung’s Brickyard, which celebrated its three-year anniversary at the beginning of the month with a packed house for the party. The bar, renowned for bands, DJs, and a killer menu of comfort food has begun holding Rainbow Thursdays to welcome the LBGT community, the city’s first weekly gay night, and have started an open mic night on Sundays “to give talented musicians a place to jam and try new stuff.”

“We’re proud to have a place where many different groups of people can feel comfortable and enjoy each other’s company,” said co-founder Graham Dart. “Kaohsiung is becoming more international, and our venue is a reflection of that.”

■ Brickyard, B1, 507 Jhongshan 2nd Rd, Cianjin Dist, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市前金區中山二路507號B1).