This year, Lunar New Year falls mid-February, and time off combined with the highs and lows of Valentine’s Day and the weather. If you feel bad for those without a date on lover’s day, think how bands feel when people don’t show up for their show on time to see them. Sure, people will be punctual for big acts like My Bloody Valentine, which plays on Wednesday, or Stars on Feb. 20, but what about all the bands playing early these days?
When the Deadly Vibes played a gig last month at Roxy Rocker, most fans (including myself) showed up at 9:45pm only to find out they’d missed the show. Owner Ling Wei (凌威) said that while Roxy Rocker supports live music, the pub’s focus is on rock ‘n’ roll. “We set our rule that live bands can’t play later than 10:30pm [because] we don’t want to affect our regular customers,” he said.
Mac Wooley of Kid Millionaire has a different perspective.
“The simple fact is that many, if not all music venues in the city have noise issues and must start earlier,” Wooley said. “We can all pretend we are surprised: ‘Aw man, you guys are done already? I totally didn’t know!’ and miss the shows, or we can grow up and get out of the house before 11pm.”
Jimi Moe, part owner of The Wall (這牆), agrees. “I recall having pre-parties before we went out to watch live music. But now I think the live music is the music lovers’ pre-party for people who want to go out later.”
Moe cited various groups that prefer early shows, including those who take the MRT, “music-loving students who need to get home to study,” and people that want to go out dancing later.
It’s a common refrain I’ve heard from live music fans and musicians, including Ariel Zheng (鄭思齊) of Go Chic and Jon Hom (譚家輝) of The Looking Glass.
“Watching live music in Taiwan is watching living art appreciated by music connoisseurs who may have other daytime responsibilities,” Moe said.
The doors at NTU Sports Center will open at 7pm on Wednesday for My Bloody Valentine. The group may be one of the original shoe-gaze bands, back before the term was invented. In the late 80s and early 90s they appealed to the alternative rock and Goth scenes, with a distorted, reverb-heavy sound that defined their second and last LP, Loveless (1991).
Singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher’s crooning on the song Only Shallow still brings back memories of that era. Well, it’s 22 years later and though the band has been saying for months a new album is about to be released any day, as of now it’s still not out.
Vocalist and guitarist Kevin Shields became a bit of a hermit and went into what many perceived to be a downward spiral after Loveless, though he later collaborated with Primal Scream and Dinosaur Jr, while other band members have worked on various projects. The band reunited in 2008 and began playing festivals, and talking about the new album in the works that has yet to materialize. That said, they are a seminal band with a beautiful sound and it’s good to see they are still making music.
■ My Bloody Valentine and Skip Skip Ben Ben play on Wednesday at 7pm at NTU Sports Center 1F (台大綜合體育館1樓) at the intersection of Xinhai and Xinsheng South roads (台北市辛亥路與新生南路交叉口). Admission is NT$2,800. Tickets are available at 7-11 iBon machines or on the iTicket website at www.g-music.iticket.com.tw
Skip Skip Ben Ben will also play a gig at the Wall with Until Seeing Whales Eyes and Heartones on Feb. 20.
Ben Ben (斑斑), aka Lin I-le (林以樂), was formerly the drummer for Beijing’s Carsick Cars and the girl in Boyz & Girl. (The boys — guitarist Jon Du (杜澤威), drummer Lo Zun-long (羅尊龍), and bassist Tseng Kuo-hung (曾國宏) — have gone on to form Forests.)
Skip Skip Ben Ben has an artful addiction to reverb, with the lyrics blending into the overall sound. The music ranges from lo-fi shoe-gaze to garage to noise rock and with an original experimental folk style that crosses the line into the psychedelic.
■ Skip Skip Ben Ben with Until Seeing Whales Eyes and Heartones play from 8pm Wednesday Feb. 20 at The Wall (這牆), B1, 200, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1). Admission is NT$200 at the door.
Stars, one of Canada’s finest song-crafting bands, play with Japan’s Shugo Tokumaru at Legacy on Feb. 20. The band’s fifth album, The Five Ghosts, continues with themes of romance, love and death that the group is renowned for. With nuanced, beautiful instrumentation, soulfully narrative lyrics, and caressing vocals, the show should be a great way to slither into the upcoming Year of the Snake.
■ Stars and Shugo Tokumaru play from 8pm to 11pm 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$1,500 in advance and NT$1,800 at the door. Tickets are available at the door or at tickets.books.com.tw