The Beast Got Freaked, Day One Review

by Floaty

It's gonna be a good year. Rarely is there truth in advertising, but after Day 1, I'm telling you Freak Out Beast has delivered.
In the tradition of the Lunar New Year celebrations, firecrackers are lit to scare away the beasts, the bad luck, all the shit lurking and looking to get all up in your business. In the name of rock 'n roll, this two day festival has already worked.

The beast got freaked.

Whereas just days before I was digging deep for the strength to survive what was looking like a long, challenging year - January was stressful and my CNY vacation to Malaysia was shit and forced an early return to Taipei, today I was treated to awesome bands, great friends, and perfect weather.

I took a deep breath, and exhaled with my most relaxed smile in weeks.

The beast got freaked.

Homo Jews, My Skin Against Your Skin, Macbeth, The Okay Cars, Heartones, Eyeball Killer, Kolette, Bazooka


Having rolled out of bed at 2pm, coffee in hand, I strolled through families and photos to the big stage. First up, Homo Jews. No, wait, I was still in bed. Oops. But it meant I was on time for My Skin Against Your Skin, who entertained, as always, with a strong show.

I've noticed vocalist Andrea has a charming tendency, when pausing from her prancing, skipping, thrashing, bouncing, and dancing, to do this thing where she sings and her knees demurely knock together. It is cute, sure, but I think it also captures something essential about their music - for all the driving riffs and tough lyrics, what powers their music is a sensitive heart. This simple, involuntary movement reveals the urgency of their songs, not in a bad way, but as if to say, yes, I could kick your ass - and I am- but I'd really rather have a sweet moment together. They are lovers AND fighters and they really make this tension work for them.

And so she danced and so the band rocked, and I enjoyed their kicking new songs in the company of the elderly & infirm, the IV'd & wheelchaired, the hip & hungover, the young parents & their infants, the princesses & their pampered lap dogs, and the middle-aged curiosity seekers - an eclectic yet representative mix of Taipei citizenry, to be sure. I enjoyed the crowd almost as much as the music. And they appeared to be having a good, good time, too.

The beast got freaked.


Some bands just sound like they should always play in a dark room, so it felt odd watching 馬克白 Macbeth under the sunlight. Despite an unstable sound system not of their making, they played as forcefully as ever. An interesting dichotomy came into play: their usual cool Kraftwerkian stage set up (each member confining himself to his designated place, with limited mannerisms) but with a rawer tone. Lars from the Okay Cars observed, "They sound like a garage band today." Unabated by fluctuating volumes and glitches, you could say the Macbeth motto is this: stand and deliver. And they did.


Stretching my legs and scratching my itch to see how the rest of the event was unfolding, I toured the other stages. On the Beast Stage (獸), 心 電樂 Heartones, a one-man band of guitar and laptop, held attention with nice beats, poppy rock guitar, and a self-assured presence.

The Noise Stage (吵) was aptly named but Rollicking Stage, Feisty Stage, or just a straight-up Fucking Fun Stage would have also captured the spirit here. I caught 眼球殺手 Eyeball Killer and a pack of punks singing, slamming, and jumping next to wide-eyed children uncertain quite what they were witnessing. Welcome to a rock 'n roll show, little one.

The Year Stage (年) featured DJs and electronic tendencies. 庫巧兔 was preparing for her set but I didn't return in time to hear her, so pleasantly distracted was I by the company of good friends and sounds elsewhere. My bad. But I did make good on my promise to see Triple Six drummer Joey Chou play percussion - I think it was on an Octopad - with another DJ whose name I didn't learn. I liked what I heard and I enjoy when people get improvisational with electronica. What failed for me, though, were the vocal samples, a tired slog of cliched exhortations to "get the body moving" and whatnot. I believe something more original and creative is possible, and as the rest of the collaboration was fun, I'm interested to hear them their next time around.

My favorite DJ moment of the night was Kolette. She's always tasteful. I love how she establishes a sample, let's it grab you at its own pace, then introduces a new beat - maybe just one little snare drum on an offbeat - to take it to another level. She's not pushy with it, so when that little extra kick comes along, it's elevating. I feel like I've suddenly become a cool person, and that's a nice buzz, believe me.

The vibe was relaxed and positive. DJs danced with children, old couples gyrated, and pockets of friends lounged and listened. Good times, good times.

I ended my evening with a return to the Noise Stage (吵), in time for Bazooka to wrap things up. Or should I say, tear things down. They walloped what was still a solid crowd with their fierce assault. More good times. Oi Oi Oi!

The beast got freaked.

See also:
The Beast Got Freaked, Day Two Review
Photos: Freak Out Beast 2011 - Day One
Photos: Freak Out Beast 2011 - Day Two

Floaty is an artist, musician, DJ, and writer. He claims music has saved his soul a bazillion times over. He's pretty bad at math, but in this case, it sounds about right.

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