Oh, the sacrifices one makes for a rock 'n roll lifestyle. I cut short my evening nap in hopes of snagging a better position to rock out . Yet I arrived at Underworld to another mass of fans milling about, patiently waiting for the doors to open. So I sat dazed in the park with a friend, and then groggily lumbered down the stairs, ending up in my now regular spot near the wall in back. So much for good intentions.
On the flip side, a crowded house is way better than an empty room. It's always nice to be with a group of people hungry for some good music. I'm happy to report that these anniversary shows have had excellent turnouts.
搖搖椅 Rocking Chair, last performing in 2008, reformed for the evening with So What's 麥基 on drums. Somehow I missed them back in the day. What I caught tonight was a smiling group seamlessly sliding between indie-pop, pop-punk, and hard rock, their best moments happening in the catchy, song-songy choruses. They double-up, even triple-up, the vocals, which I'm a sucker for, and it added a noticeable depth and energy. It wasn't quite enough to capture the attention of the entire room, however, as a clear divide was evident between the fans in front and the chatting friends gathered in the back. For that matter, the band spent at least one-third of their set in happy banter and any momentum built from the previous song would quickly dissipate. It was a slow start to my night, and I realized I should have grabbed a cup of joe beforehand.
ZAP! BANG! BOOM!
Ah, there's my caffeine! Soundcheck for Triple Six jolted me awake. Electrocution may be the only thing more powerful. A changing of the guard had occurred, with the other galvanized metalheads in attendance taking their proper place front and center.
ZAP! BANG! BOOM!
I can never remember their song titles, but this first one may well be called "10 Seconds to Chaos" - it only took about that long before a full-on mosh pit exploded and guitarist 秋生 ChoSheng's face contorted into an endless series of the funniest guitar faces I've ever seen.
The night's first casualty was surprisingly not this reporter nor someone's diminutive girlfriend nor a fancy camera, but... a guitar string. Its replacement allowed for a momentary pause in the pummeling, and for the building up of froth from the foaming mouths of fans. We've been waiting a long time for this. Two and a half years, in fact. We could wait another minute.
And what has come from the hiatus? Well, 雞腿 Chicken Leg's voice is as slicing and venomous as ever, and he's managed to summon up new sounds as well. As with a lot of hardcore, I never really know what's anyone's singing about, but I do know he means it - both he and the devil that's possessed him.
Far more certain were the contributions from ChoSheng, who had us all laughing in between songs. "Why are the guys the only ones taking off their clothes?" he lamented. Why indeed.
And on with the show. Four new songs thrashed their way into the set alongside monsters from their great 2006 album 寄生於你的脆弱 Parasitic Fragility in You. The evening was a veritable encyclopedia of riffs. There were the classic chugga-chugga-chugga riffs and the standard galloping riffs, as well as sledgehammer riffs, speeding riffs, gut-punching riffs, and even throbbing riffs, which I never considered possible.
The most common riff of the night seemed to be a stuttering riff that gained traction with each repetition, drilling deep into one's head and slapping the brain upside-down before running off cackling, only to play the prank again and again. Yeah, that kind of riff. It's a fun one!
Heads banged, bodies slammed, sweat flew, and devil horns praised as the clock ticked towards the bar's noise curfew, but we beseeched Triple Six for an encore, and they were nice enough to comply. But be careful what you ask for - it seems they had an extra ace up their sleeve: The Evil Riff.
And with that they slew us, and there was much rejoicing.
I then scurried off 2 hours late to my DJ gig across town, regretting that I hadn't simply arranged for a substitute to take my shift. The badass 88 Balaz were still to come! I could be a lazy writer and just tell you they were super awesome, which is a safe bet. But GigGuide.tw's good friend, the wonderfully photofrenzied Brent Franke, was wise enough to keep on rocking, and kind enough to share his thoughts. I hand him the mic.
Awesome shit! This sticker on 阿強’s acoustic guitar fairly sums up the 88 Guava Seeds. And I dare you to say 八十八顆芭樂籽 eight times fast. These veterans of Taipei’s indie rock scene played a sizzling set, confidently flowing from song to song without the hesitation or awkward banter of less experienced bands. They never stumble, and their engaging and accessible brand of straight up rock and roll forces a big grin onto the face of even the most ironic and jaded hipster. One acoustic and two electric guitars creates a rich and layered wall of sound, and Underworld’s intimate environment makes you feel a connection with the band not found in other venues.
After a solid set and the requisite encore, the Guavas put down their instruments and attempted to leave the stage. The crowd continued to chant “Encore, encore” (or “uncle, uncle;” I’m never too sure). Despite pleading that they really had no more songs, and that the drummer was too tired to continue, the only means of escape was to kick out another song. A high energy, Taiwan beer fuelled second encore proved why Underworld has endured for fifteen years, and this reviewer wishes them fifteen more.