Rock and roll is inherently rebellious. It's a kick in the pants, if not the face, to anything and everything - a fuck you to the status quo, The Man, jobs, bills, dickheads, social mores, boredom, or just a fuck you for the sake of saying fuck you.
Sunday night's party was conceived as a call to arms by longtime Taipei rocker Marty of Quebec and George Yang (veteran PA and lead singer of Black Summer Days) with Swiss VJ Juan Casals (Cheers for your fine work, sir! It really enhanced the night!) - a call to arms with a bit of celebration on top. But what is it, specifically, this party intends to resist?
Marty replied to me with a very long, thoughtful answer. Suffice to say, The Live Rock Resistance Party is most definitely targeting all of the above, but, he adds, "In my view, to dare to invest substantial time in highly meaningful things like music, friendship, self-realization and simply good times, especially in Taiwan, is a pure act of resistance against this (see above), as well as against an increasingly dehumanized and materialistic modern world in general."
And with that, Marty assembled an A-list lineup of Taipei's indie stars, including a thoughtful nod to Taipei's venerable DJ Randy, who has done so much to promote great music here in Taiwan over the years.
Everyday we see, read, hear, and even live out struggles both epic and personal. Fight for your right to party? Absolutely. Then fight for your right to fight. Then do it.
A lot seems to have changed for The White Eyes in the past year, but then again, maybe not. Armed with a new drummer, an array of new effects, and trimmed down to a 3-piece, The White Eyes remain anchored by Xiao Gao (vocals, guitar) and Johnny (bass), and they still rock.
While not as raw, perhaps, as their earlier days, the band still maintains their primal grooves and charisma. Fuzzy guitars now mash with vocal loops, and Johnny contributes extra vocals, yells, and shouts. It's nice to see a man scream. The band's focal point, however, remains Xiao Gao. Busier then ever alternating between her guitar, keyboards, microphone, tambourine, and her thrashing, she even commands our attention when slamming a beer during Hardcore Porn Star. A cold, wet night in Taipei was starting to get a lot warmer...
OverDose were the only band on the bill I was unfamiliar with. Their music was described to me beforehand as more commercial than the other groups, and while some people gravitated to the bar, others placed themselves nearer the stage. Me, I just tried to approach it with an open mind.
With dual vocalists, bass, guitar, and Go Chic's drummer pulling double duty on the kit, OverDose delivered a polished and powerful set. Blending mainstream melodies with a Nu Metal edge, I can understand how some people may have felt they were an odd inclusion. Nonetheless, the point of the evening was to rock out and have fun, and from front to back, both the band and audience certainly had that going on.
The eager anticipation for Go Chic's set could be measured by the distance between the band and the audience. Or the lack thereof, to be more exact. Exciting us hometown fans over the long months with news of tours and new recordings (in Berlin with Peaches, no less!), Taipei was anxious to see these ladies again. It seemed the wall of fans surrounding them was almost as much barrier to prevent their next long absence as it was a desire to get in on the action.
"The hardest working man in show business" was a title well-earned by James Brown over his distinguished career. But, alas, he's gone now. To fill that void, when it comes to working a crowd, I'd like to nominate vocalist Ariel Zheng. Her brash enthusiasm is exactly what every party needs. Utterly intolerant of too-cool-for-school poses and all such pretentious apathy, Ariel tirelessly calls out each and every loser with enough good wit to pull them over to her side. Whether she's prowling atop amplifiers and sound monitors or literally getting in the face of an unsuspecting hipster, Ariel always wins.
Case in point: as a prelude to Dance With Her, Ariel observes, "I see a lot of horny guys here tonight," Cue up some manly whoops and cheers, and then, without missing a beat, "C'mon girls, show them what they can't get." Oh snap! Then boom: bassline, drums, dancing. Yes, Ariel is the master of the smackdown-turnaround.
New tunes like Girl Fight mixed well with old favorites 2010 and 24 Hour Party Pooper. Fans danced in the front row, fans danced in the middle, and fans danced in the back. Mission accomplished.
Welcome back, Go Chic. We've missed you.
I think 盪在空中 must be God's way of saying he loves us. Their set was truly a transcendent experience, so much so that I had to put aside my notebook and pen and simply submit to the moment.
From 一大片的風景 to their brilliant cover of Police & Thieves (which brought some tears to my eyes), 盪在空中 owned me, wholly and lovingly. And on all sides, people were similarly possessed, swaying, dancing, and enjoying their own spiritual elevations.
Time became timeless and indefinite, and at some point the bodies and sounds were instead directed by DJ Randy. The pace was quicker, perhaps, but the smiles the same.
"How was the party?" I was asked.
It was good. Very, very good.