When I walked into Treellage, I got a bit confused. A family sat at the window table of the café with a young daughter who should be in bed. The café is close to dead silent. Where is the music? I got led upstairs to an insulated room by the friendly staff. It was packed with about 40-50 people. There was a stage at the end with fantastic lighting. The acoustics of the room sounded good. The mood was good, albeit a bit laid back. Everything in the room looked new and clean. This was not the typical “hole-in-the-wall” bar venues. The resemblance was more akin to a hipster café. I then cozied into a corner and settled in to listen to the two acts.
They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. This saying was truly alive tonight. The first act was a singer-songwriter duo (陳智輝 + 林彼得) which imitated the many singer-songwriter ensembles in Taiwan. They play pseudo folksy easy listening songs based on their own life experiences. There was a lot of banter between songs, with lengthy introductions to the muses behind each song. Unfortunately, the raison d'être and the emotion poured into the duo’s performance cannot mask the craftsmanship of the songs not holding up to the duo’s aspirations. Maybe a bit more originality is required to lift this duo above the masses of brilliant singer-songwriters in Taiwan.
Once the duo finished their performance, I was surprised that the bulk of the audience left. It was unfortunate that only about 10 of us got to witness the tight playing of Phantasy of Mirage (現象師). They are a four-piece post-rock band that was formed only 6 months ago. Their melodies were uplifting. The sound landscape was thick and moody. Even though the instrumental nature of post-rock can drone at times, Phantasy of Mirage exercised good control over the progression of its songs. I did not feel that any of their songs dragged. On the contrary, I wanted to rock out. While the performance was energetic and enjoyable, the music they played was still an imitation of the post-rock genre. I cannot help but think of the band as a copy of Mono, Explosions in the Sky or the Taiwanese post-rock pioneers, Sugar Plum Ferry (甜梅號). This is still a relatively newly formed band so the promise is there. Phantasy of Mirage might be reaching the tipping point – one more creative spark might push these guys to something originally phenomenal. If you were one of the audience who left before Phantasy of Mirage played, make it up to yourself and catch these guys the next time. Please.
Treellage has done well. I really enjoyed the live gig venue. The sound engineering was spot-on. The lighting was fun and added to the atmosphere. The owners have propositioned an entire block with a mission to nurture a creative breathing space. In my book, they have succeeded. If you check out the upcoming and previous gigs at this venue, you will find something of interest. I will be back.