In charge of the music and sound art programme at kunstencentrum STUK
Since the start, Subbacultcha is serving you interesting scene reports from local music scenes all over the world. In the past we have featured very cool insights from f.e. Toronto, Mexico City, Beijing, Lima and recently Tehran. Two months ago we were contacted by Weining Hung who was busy organising the first edition of LucFest, a showcase festival for the Taiwanese music scene in the oldest city and former capital of (South) Taiwan; Tainan. She had picked up our Taipei scene report through a common friend and was curious to see if we would like to come over to hear the local bands and explain our business. No doubt, we’re very pleased to share adventures!
Text by Herlinde Raeman
Photos by Thomas Vandenberghe and Herlinde Raeman
shot in Taipei and Tainan, Taiwan
It’s a small world after all…
We thought it was pretty hilarious to find out that our contact in Taipei – Simon Frank – was in Belgium while we were flying to his hometown. He was touring with his new band Love Theme; co-starring Alex Zhang Hungtai, a musician found in many of these scene reports and (no joke) born in Taiwan! Another artist we featured before John Yuyi, who collaborated with Tom Galle on several projects was also born in Taiwan. So judging by the few people we knew before, this scene could be pretty interesting!
Day 1 in Taipei was pretty much lost in translation. We did manage to drag our jetlagged beings to the top of the 101 building but found our personal highlight, a record store relevantly named ‘The Waiting Room’, closed. A foot massage for 1,5 hours, yummy street food and Taiwan beers from 7 Eleven did the trick to keep us kind of alive the rest of the day.
The following day we left for Tainan. It’s pretty easy btw; pei for north and nan for south. Two and a half hours on the high-speed train – running at a top speed of 300 km/h – later we arrived at the south side of the island.
Come down easy with our blues space trip – Be Bop Kids
LucFest invited all his guests to an outdoor opening ceremony. Mesmerised by the little Japanese houses in the art village next to the venue, we stumbled upon a couple of shops selling local artists products. We bought a t-shirt with the Chinese sign for ‘pure’ on it, apparently cool stuff for kids to show off just after the Japanese occupation decades ago.
That evening we got to know two bands worth checking. Be Bop Kids brought us back to the nostalgic sound of Crocodiles. Later we remembered that song by Suicide and this comparison made quite a lot of sense. Prairie wwww, a messier version of Animal Collective, was next up. Their sound was exotic, though very European, and the band had clearly more experience on stage. We found out they played Primavera this year and we have the impression they might tour in the rest of Europe soon. Guruguru Brain, a Tokyo/Amsterdam based record label focusing on underground music from Asia, is releasing their records but they have a cassette out on the Lonely God label, mentioned in our Taipei scene report too.
Day 3 began with our keynote. A bit messy in the beginning but happy to see how much interest and questions we got in the end! (LucFest attendees, if you read this and you need more info, email us!)
After that we decided to walk and see where we ended up. If you ask us, this was the biggest joy in Taiwan: wandering through the little back alleys and exploring life on the other side of the fence. We discovered a couple of record stores and secondhand shops (13fingers, Buyhope Hon). We bought jasmin tea and manga dolls, local paper and wooden stamps with our names in Chinese, translated via Google translate (someone please tell us if it means chicken soup instead :-D).
Naughty silver gelatin prints and records of Taiwanese 60ties girl bands. Mission accomplished
Sunday started in style with a guided visit to one of the 2000 temples in the city. We learned about the many gods and asked them for good business by stamping this on a paper. We’ve pinned the little key hanger on the wall of the office, hoping our dreams come true! We also attended a proper tea ceremony that morning. First time ever and with shaky hands, but worth the experience.
Goal was to spent the rest of the afternoon searching for flea markets so we had a lot of fun with taxi drivers getting very confused while driving us to the weirdest outskirts and stall holders laughing their ass off with us but hey, we found naughty silver gelatin prints and weird records of Bobby D, a Taiwanese 60ties girl band and Fleetwood Mac for almost nothing. Mission accomplished.
Before heading to the closing party (on a military ship!), we passed by a venue called Lola to see another pair of excellent shows by White Eyes and Outlet Drift, two more bands to put on the list to follow-up on.
On Monday we headed back to rainy Taipei and decided to spend our last hours in the gallery/bookshop Pon Ding. Some displayed magazines worth mentioning are The Happy Reader, Office, Brownbook, Record and most important local art zines White Fungus from Taichung and their more experimental spin-off The Subconscious Restaurant. One other photo book caught our eye as well : Daily by local model/photographer Chih Han Yang.
To end we would like to sum up loads of links to very interesting festivals, projects and cool stuff all over the world. Believe us, we have a long list of future scene reports to ask the nicest people we hung out with.