On a hot blistery summer Wednesday night, 300 people gathered in Shida hoping to attend one of the last (for now) gigs to be hosted at Underworld. White Eyes and Wayne is So Sad were playing to a sell-out crowd.
I was not there but I heard that they were very good.
I was at Revolver, watching Slack Tide and BHD perform. Slack Tide took the stage first with a little jam session – an aperitif to their main staple diet of massive sounds.
If you have listened to Slack Tide’s brilliant debut LP “Security”, you can play “spot the 90s indie band musical influence”. There was a lot of Dinosaur Jr, Pavement and Sonic Youth in that album.
So it is with a sense of anticipation when Slack Tide declared that they will be playing new songs (what?! New songs a few weeks after releasing a 9-song CD?). Where would they go? What will they do? Watch the video below and decide for yourself.
Slack Tide had used their 90s indie rock influences as a nurturing point and created their own identity by bonding their own ideas together in their jam sessions. They stand on the shoulders of giants but are starting to stand tall on the basis of their own vision and identity.
As you can imagine, bands that come together by jamming together are electric in their live performances. BHD is also such a band.
Sometimes, it is hard to categorise BHD. It is easy for Slack Tide – those guys wish they were formed in the 90s. However, BHD seems to be a product of the current age. They are a mish-mash of almost all forms of musical genres. There is chicken-picking country. There is thumping drum ‘n bass. There is metal headbanging. One riff during a jam session can develop into a sprawling 8-minute opus and you can observe that in the video below.
There were so many things going on in BHD’s performance – 3 guitarists playing guitars to bass to keyboards, a DJ cutting and sampling, intricate drumming, and a triangular video projection. I felt overwhelmed (which I use as an excuse for the dodgy camera work above). It was a risky gamble to blend all of these elements together in a performance but it worked. I am sure they can gather new fans when they tour in Japan in late July.
The two bands from that night reminded me that they were nurtured from their own respective musical influences. The work that was done by preceding artists paved the way for them to learn and then to stand on their own. Art needed to be nurtured which then made me think back to Underworld.
While I am sad about Underworld’s current sorry state of affairs, I feel the urge to remind the reader that throughout Taipei (and Taiwan), independent creative bands are still writing songs, still rehearsing, still performing. Despite the attempts to silence the venues, the bands are still here.
Underworld had provided a home for such creative musical souls for 16 years. While Underworld might not survive in its current form (and we will continue to fight), its nurturing spirit should never die.
You too can help nurture the Taiwanese indie voice. Please go out and continue to support local venues and local acts. Do not let ignorant buffoons destroy the spirit of creativity, family and nurturing that our beloved Underworld had helped cultivate over the last 16 years.
Make it viable. Make it big. Make it positive.
Like Slack Tide’s massive sound.
More information on the bands:
Slack Tide is a three-piece local Taiwanese indie band that was formed about 2 years ago. They had recently released a 9-song LP called “Security” (CD available from the band directly and as a download on bandcamp. They are working on their next album.
BHD mashes up different genres of music into a cohesive whole. They are a five-piece band with 3 guitarists, 1 DJ and 1 drummer. Their early demos can be found on Indievox. They will be touring Japan in late July as part of Noise Union, a Japan-Taiwan musical collaboration.