So, I’m starting to get used to the humidity of Taipei. Local badboi DJs Shorty and Allen Blow of Useless Brotherhood have been showing me all the music spots in preparation for my time here.
The other night, I went to Shorty’s ‘Play Party Music’ gig at Village Café. The idea of PPM is to get kids into DJ’ing and production. It seems here in Taiwan, the best way to attract people to the more underground sounds is to bill it as ‘Party music’, then hit them with the good stuff once they’re through the door.
Above: Play Party Music poster
The event had to finish early because the majority of the punters were prospective/current students from the local university (in addition to the fact that the club was set within an artist’s village, painters and the like living in flats above the hall, so most adult-orientated events must finish before 1 or 2am).
Teacher Shorty played at 9:30pm, following the handing out of raffle prizes (this included VIP passes to the ever-popular shit music venue ‘Roxy’* and even worse, ‘Wax’ where they play 90s RnB / hip hop one hit wonders I thought had been long forgotten, a Roots Manuva “Awfully Deep” CD and a pair of Tank headphones). I don’t think I’ve experienced such explicit and beautiful use of mixing between styles, a real eye-opener. I’m not a huge fan of scratching/turntablism, but this was something different - it was for subtle, well balanced tonal effect and transition from one genre to another, not just exhibitionism and blatant technical prowess. Pure vinyl for an hour. Really very inspirational.
Above: DJ Shorty shows them how it’s done.
Today, Shorty and Allen took me to a record shop in the heart of Shida Night Market. We were going to go to a Techno store a couple of stops away on the MRT Metro in the trendy shopping district Ximending, but since there was a typhoon recently, rain dampened the mood and the visit was postponed to a later date.
Above: The bustling Shida Night Market
‘Waiting Room’ is located in a mid-rise flat in the quieter of the Shida market lanes, basically in someone’s lounge. I really didn’t really know what to expect, since the DJs here have told me on a number of occasions that there is a distinct lack of places to purchase decent music (if you’re looking for 7” records, forget it - the look of amazement on their eyes when I visited in May with my 7” boxes says it all).
So I stepped in, and the first thing I saw across the room was an LP of Madvillainy (Shorty bought two copies just so he could beat juggle - now that’s dedication!!), then the limited silkscreen 3LP pressing of Madlib’s Medicine Show #9 (Nittyville), followed by the Stones Throw ‘Smoked Out’ tshirts. The list of quality stuff goes on. The guys in charge apparently import a lot of their goods from Chemical Records and sell it on. Very cool.
Above: DJ Allen Blow (left) and roadie Very Boring (centre) perusing ‘Waiting Room’
Mayer Hawthorne seemed to be a popular subject of discussion amongst the guys. Personally, the only tune I dig of his is ‘I Need You’, but that’s the instrumental, which doesn’t say much for his vocals. But that’s just me, never was a huge soul/funk fan.
We also chatted about: whether I liked Little Britain / our love of George A. Romero / how they’d had the Operation Doomsday tin but sold out (no surprises there!) / Refused and related hardcore (their CD section is an A-Z specialising in Punk, both Taiwanese and Western groups such as International Noise Conspiracy; just down the road is Underworld;
“A tiny haven for indie/alt music since 1996. Weekly live shows. Outrageous parties. Eclectic resident djs. True spirit of rock & youth culture.”)
Refused - New Noise
Taiwanese folk are really welcoming, friendly people. A far cry from the coldness (literal and metaphorical) of London.
Above: Shorty, transfixed by the ‘Stones Throw direct to Disc #1’ Limited Edition release.
I thought the DVD of the 1936 American propaganda exploitation movie Reefer Madness (below) was a bizarre but intriguing item:
More to follow on my adventures… Next stop, the superclubs/exclusive joints.
*Roxy Rocker, however, is really good - it’s a club based around rock music (but with a selection of many other styles) contains two rooms each with a DJ, one with shelf upon shelf of CD’s in alphabetical order, the other with literally 1000s of vinyls of many decades passed, not ordered. Although you are politely reminded that the selector is “not a jukebox” they are more than happy for you to hand them tunes you find. I was a little bit scared by a drunk Canadian jumping around the room to Led Zeppelin trying to chat shit to my friends, but that’s the expat community in a nutshell (certainly the one’s who’ve been here for a while anyway). For me, it’s really good to rediscover all that rock music I was very much into as a teenager, before I got into reggae and urban dance music. Moshing, red dax and Deftones grlz. U dun kno, Ornine! Oh, and Tom Green.