Monday, March 17, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: Taiwan indies in Tokyo

While The Wall was hosting a plethora of foreign bands in Taiwan, a couple notables from the Taiwan indie scene visited Japan for a couple shows. Unfortunately, I'm always the last person to hear about these things and I missed them.

First up, post-rock/slowcore group Sugar Plum Ferry played at a free Nike sponsored event. Yeah, kinda strange, but you can check up on it at this website:

Interesting to note, they were on the bill with Hisham Akira Bharoocha a.k.a Soft Circle and formerly of Black Dice. On this page there is a link to an interview with him on my friends' NYC-based webzine which can be read here:

The second Taiwanese band to come play in Tokyo last month was the mod-style folk pop groove group Won Fu. This is one of Taiwan's most successful indie groups and one of my favorites. Promoting their new release in Japan, Won Fu played three shows in Tokyo at Club 251, Club Quattro and Shinjuku Marble as well as a spot on the NHK Radio program Asia Pops Sounds. you can read up on Won Fu's adventures in Tokyo on the On the One indie music blog:

Hopefully, next time some Taiwanese indie bands come to Japan, I'll know about it beforehand.

BORDER CROSSING: Head Phones President in China

OK, I'm a little late on this entry, but I figured I should mention it. Head Phones President have been friends of mine since I met them on tour in NYC in the winter of 2006. Following my move to Japan, I kept in touch with the band and arranged to have them play at the Formoz Festival in Taiwan and the Pacific Media Expo in LA. This past February, I was invited to tag along with Head Phones President to Beijing, China. Unfortunately, I didn't have the extra time or the cash, so I didn't go and I can't give many details.

(HPP in China)

They journey started in Shibuya at Club Quaatro where Head Phones President opened up for LA metal band In This Moment. Then both bands headed to Beijing to play the Yu Gong Yi Shan Live House. You can see some pictures on the HPP Blog and get more details if you can read Japanese. I wish I could have gone myself, but I was just honored to have been asked. Cheers to HPP!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


This past February saw a lot of "border crossing" action at Taipei's premier live music venue The Wall. Unfortunately, I don't live in Taiwan anymore and can't give all the details, but at least I can acknowledge the bands that made the trip and give credit to The Wall's management for bringing more desperately needed foreign acts to the off-the-beaten-path island.

First up was the gender-bending ex-Pierrot Japanese duo LM.C who made their second trip to Taiwan since performing at last summer's Formoz Festival. Next, the Austin, Texas based instrumental post-rock band Explosions in the Sky performed no doubt to the delight of the vast Taiwanese indie rocker college crowd with their unique tri-guitar ensemble. In 2004, I saw Mogwai at the Autumn Tiger fest, so Explosions' presence fits the island's scene. Three nights later, The Wall was visited by a couple Hong Kong bands: Alt-metal rockers 戳麻 (Chock Ma) and experimental shoegaze group Elf Fatima who had previously contributed a song to Lobo III, a Taiwan indie compilation series. Actually, Elf Fatima's Jesus & Mary Chain/My Bloody Valentine influenced sound has recently begun to captivate me.

(Explosions in the Sky at The Wall)

Closing the month was a double date appearance by The Plastic People of the Universe, a Czech group originating in the late 60's representing the Prague underground and fighting against the country's normalization period when the communist government cracked down on the Arts. The Plastic People performed at the Spirit of
Taiwan festival held last year on Taiwan's 228 Peace Memorial Day. This year they played on February 28th as well, leading me to believe there is some political agenda equating their struggle in the Czech Republic to Taiwan's own opposition to communist China's grasp on the island's independence. Being a fan of 60's world psyche and garage, I would have loved to see this band, especially after reading that they are influenced by NY avant rock like the Velvet Underground and The Fugs.

Let's give a round of applause to The Wall for organizing these diverse events. Seeing that the Canadian baroque pop indie collective Broken Social Scene is coming this month, The Wall has more coming in the way of foreign artist.