Ah the outdoor music festival. Those treasured moments spent perfecting a schedule, running from one stage to another, and seeking tree-lined refuge from rainstorms. Days spent sipping on summer ales, perusing through merch tents, and napping under trees. Sweaty bodies piling on top of one another for glances at sunglassed singers. Mornings that quickly turn into evenings of smuggled booze binges and blurry dance parties. Yes it’s all in the details, and those details - albeit a little harder to find - existed underneath the soppy umbrellas and at the bottoms of Miller Chills at the Formoz Friends Party last Saturday. Hosted by The Wall and situated along the Guandu Waterside Park, the party procured an eclectic lineup that featured scream heavy bands, pop punk trios, and acoustic acts, peppered in with a few standouts from the indie rock scene.
Skip Skip Ben Ben
My first and favorite of the day, ex-Boyz&Girl and current 包子虎/Nintendo Generation Blues members played early to a subdued crowd. The melodic dissonance of the guitar paid subtle homage to Sonic Youth and paired well with Ben Ben’s (斑斑) gorgeous, dynamically off-kilter voice (despite being somewhat lost that day). The broken down simplicity of her lyrics complemented her drumming captivatingly well and made for an alluring show.
After Skip Skip Ben Ben wrapped up, Forests was finishing up their sound check. Forests is the latest bedroom recording project from the late Boyz&Girl’s Jon Du (杜澤威) and Sunset Rollercoaster drummer Zun Long (尊龍). The duo’s abstracted brand of indiepop manifested shadowy images of the Beach Boys, lost in the stark backwoods of Maryland, a Hitchcockian nightmare stooged...or something of the sort. Forests’ stylings retain the sensibilities of Atlas Sound and Animal Collective while fusing experimental tracks with fuzzy psych-rock and shrouds of lo-fi musings. And so the set was a dreamy one, casting crowd members into far away contemplations…
Punkhoo (胖虎) made one thing for sure: the majority of those at the festival have a major crush on pop punk, and I think it likes them too. An energetic performance for an equally lively audience - complete with the head banging, guitar raising thrills associated with the genre - left me waiting for the NOFX cover that never came.
Next up was Japan’s Ayabie. What they lacked for in vocals and song structure, they made up for in style, donning glam rock’s finest eyeliner and tre chic hair. Many in the crowd were pleased, and only a few seemed confused by their hard driven punkish/metaly/screamy things. I don't know or care much about this 'visual kei' genre, but with this being my introduction I think less time on wardrobe and more time in rehearsal is needed. I don't like it much when music turns into a scenster fashion show, but maybe this is just a cultural thing I don't understand quite yet. I took harbor near the DJ tent, but unfortunately no one was dancing in the tent, or around it, or on it. Then again, slam dancing to Badly Drawn Boy isn't highly recommended. Assuming the DJ tents would pick up later under the cover of darkness, I went back to the Summer Stage where, thankfully, Orangegrass (橙草) provided that special dose of indie pop goodness that music-craving girls like me gobble down like pancakes.
Soggy shoes and one too many Jack and Cokes had me calling it an early day. While I missed the final bands (Enno Cheng, The White Eyes, and more), my brief introduction to Taiwan's music scene was a decent one. Bands like Orangegrass, Skip Skip Ben Ben, and Forests show promise for pushing the independent scene here forward, but as I'm quickly learning, Taiwan is a transient country with a devastatingly high band turnover rate, so let’s hope these guys stick around for the long haul.