Seeing Canadian band Stars play live was definitely one of the shining moments of my music world last week. Their show at Legacy was packed, which caused vocalist Torquil Campbell, who I met up with in Huashan for drinks before the show, to interrupt his non-stop political rant (not impressed with the Harper government in Canada) to exclaim: “This is what we do it for! Look at all these kids. How do they even know who we are, we are half way around the world and here they are coming out on a Wednesday to see us play. That is what it is all about.” Their music was transcendent, mercurial, uplifting, and most of all, entertaining. “In the end,” he said, “I’m no political activist, I’m a fool, an entertainer for the masses.”
More tomfoolery is to be had this week: the Megaport Music Festival (大港開唱) in Kaohsiung this weekend, a mini tour by Roxymoron and Forests, a punk show mid-week with Fucked Up and Gallows, along with the birthdays of Wade Davis and Greggo Russell, two of the founding fathers of Taiwan’s expat music scene.
Davis was too immersed in preparations for Spring Scream to do an interview but you can catch him next weekend at Roxy Rocker (which his Aurora band members were gaga over when they played there last month, in part because of the Led Zeppelin-inspired decor, and in part because of owner Ling Wei’s (凌威) massive vinyl collection available for play by the DJ aftershows). Davis will be playing in Dr Reniculous Lipz and the Skallyunz, with Russell’s experimental post-rock group Collider (a personal favorite of mine), performing in a rare live show in honor of the occasion.
Russell, who has been here for over a decade, plays in a ludicrous number of bands:
“At the moment I am drumming for The Looking Glass, Rough Hausen, Luxury Apartments, Stench Of Lust, Steve Williams & The Alien Residents, Dr Reniculous Lipz and the Skallyunz, Collider and a few other projects that emerge from the dead now and again,” he said in a recent interview.
“I enjoy the different genres of music that I find myself playing. I do not sit around watching HBO or playing Playstation. I like to be productive … music happens to be my number one field of interest. I used to be a keen sportsman, that took a backseat to the drum kit.”
Indie heroin-rock band Luxury Apartments will join them for this free celebration of the births of two of Taiwan’s core live music men.
■ Dr Reniculous Lipz and the Skallyunz, Collider and Luxury Apartments play on Mar. 9 from 8pm to 10:30pm at Roxy Rocker 177, Heping E Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市和平東路一段177號). Admission is free.
Tomorrow you can catch American indie folk rockers Grizzly Bear at Neo Studio — if, that is, you can’t make it down to see them in Kaohsiung at the weekend-long Megaport Music Festival (大港開唱). After Radiohead invited the band to tour in 2008, things took off for them in a big way, driving the band into a hibernation period of creativity after their album Veckatimest reached the top of the global music charts. They have even supported Paul Simon (who plays in Taiwan on Mar. 20), and they were touted as “incredible” by Jay-Z. Their sound is a mix of musical instruments and electronics, with a psychedelic experimental folk-pop vibe. It’s dreamy music with Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste’s vocal harmonies leading the ear.
■ Grizzly Bear plays tonight. Doors open at 7pm and the band takes the stage from 8pm to 10pm at NeoStudio, 5F, 22 Songshou Rd, Taipei (台北市松壽路22號5樓). Tickets are NT$2,000 at the door, NT$1,800 presale.
If you missed Japanese experimental metal psych-rock pop band Boris at the Wall (這牆) yesterday you can catch them with Grizzly Bear as they are also playing Megaport. With 17 studio albums under their belt, they bend genres and define the analog-digital hybrid ethic with an E-bow, a Vibrato bar, a range of pedals and a double-necked bass guitar that vocalist Takeshi uses to avoid having to switch instruments.
Joining the two-day lineup are a long list of bands including Skaraoke, Wonfu, Fire Ex, Manic Sheep, 10-Feet and How to Dress Well. Check the Web site, www.megaport.com.tw, for a full schedule — it’s a good one.
■ Megaport Music Festival tomorrow and Sunday from noon to 10pm at Pier 2 Art District (高雄駁二藝術特區), 1 Dayong Rd, Yancheng Dist, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市鹽埕區大勇路1號). Pre-sale tickets are NT$900 for a one-day pass and NT$1,600 for a two day pass, available through 7-11 iBon; NT$1,100 NT$1,800 at the door.
This weekend might be one of the last times to catch Roxymoron, now on mini-tour, as frontman Ben Smith will be leaving Taiwan shortly. Roxymoron and Forests played Underworld on Wednesday and will hit Taichung tomorrow and Kaoshiung Saturday.
■ Roxymoron and Forests, tonight from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Emerge Live House (浮現藝文展演空間), 12, Ln 55, Sinsing Rd, Longjing Township, Taichung County (台中縣龍井鄉新興路55巷12號). Admission is NT$200, NT$100 with Megaport wrist band. Tomorrow from 10pm at The Mercury (水星酒館), 46 Liwen Rd, Zuoying Dist, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市左營區立文路46號). Cover charge to be announced, check mercurybar.blogspot.com
This coming Wednesday, catch hardcore punk bands Fucked Up (Canada) and Gallows (England) at The Wall. Though Fucked Up are a critically acclaimed, award-winning band (in 2009 they won the Polaris Music Prize) they and their fans are known to fuck things up, with massive damage reported after shows. Just another brick in the proverbial wall.
■ Fucked Up and Gallows from 8pm on Wednesday 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$1,800 at the door, NT$1,600 presale.