Exclaim! TV reports on Taiwan’s indie music scene

Exclaim! TV from Canada visited Taiwan in April this year to report on Taiwan’s burgeoning indie music scene. They attended Spring Scream (春天吶喊) and also checked out live venues in Taipei. A five-part series of videos documenting Taiwan’s music scene is now available for viewing online. Part One is embedded above and links to all five videos can be found at the end of this post.

I contacted  Exclaim! TV’s Sam Sutherland by e-mail and asked him about his impressions of his time in Taiwan. He was surprised that at Spring Scream not many people were drinking. Sam said, “At any music festival in North America, the beer tent is as crowded as the main stage. But it seemed like James and I were the only people bothering to buy beers in a crowd of thousands.” Continue reading

Tears and transitional justice

I reviewed Tears (眼淚) last year after I saw it at the Golden Horse Film Festival. The movie is officially released in Taiwan today. The movie tells the story of Guo, an old policeman who employs some unethical policing methods and eventually has to face up to his past.

The movie is being widely discussed in Taiwan for its theme of transitional justice. I have selected a couple of articles on the topic and translated part of them. In the Liberty Times (自由時報) Wang Dan (王丹), who recently spent six months in Taiwan as a visiting professor at NCCU, wrote:

做為「轉型正義」三部曲的第一部,鄭文堂並沒有去處理白色恐怖這個政治性的轉型正義議題,而是從員警執法的 社會層面入手,我認為這是很值得肯定的努力。關於轉型正義的議題,我一向認為過去的討論太政治化,反而不利於這個議題的深入進行。其實在社會層面,也有很多轉型正義的面向要去處理,這些面向涉及的是人性和人與人之間的關係的問題,因而來 得更加復雜。同時,這也是政府和國家權力無從處理,而需要公民社會本身來處理的問題。

In the first of a trilogy of films about transitional justice, Cheng Wen-tang didn’t deal with the issue of the White Terror period. Instead he began by looking at how the police enforce the law in society. I think this is a commendable effort. With regard to the topic of transitional justice I always believe the discussion in the past was too politicised and it’s not really favorable to discussing this topic deeply. Actually at the social level there are many issues of transitional justice that need to be faced. These involve human nature and the problems in relations between people. As a result they are more complex. At the same time this is something that the government or the power of the state can’t manage. It requires the citizens and society itself to manage.

Continue reading

Justice For All Concert in Pingtung

The 2010 Justice For All Concert (正義無敵音樂會) was held in Pingtung yesterday. I arrived at the venue in the mid-afternoon while the bands were still doing their sound checks. The venue was a park in the Pingdong Sugar Factory — a big grassy area surrounded by palm trees with a banyan tree providing some nice shade.

In the late afternoon the crowd began to build as the first band Windmill (風籟坊) took to the stage. Windmill’s Hoklo rock was followed by the Hakka folk of Lin Sheng-xiang (林生祥). Sheng-xiang is well known as a protest singer and lives in Meinong, not far from Pingtung. Continue reading

ChthoniC takes it to the extreme


Taiwanese extreme metal group ChthoniC’s  (閃靈) new album Mirror of Retribution (十殿) was scheduled for release in Taiwan on 8 August. However, as Typhoon Morakot hit at the same time, the release was delayed for a few days and the autograph signing activities in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung were cancelled. ChthoniC have responded to the disaster by donating several large boxes of long-sleeved t-shirts to people in the disaster areas in the south of Taiwan.

I finally picked up my copy of the Taiwanese edition in Taipei today. Mirror of Retribution was released in the UK on 10 August and is set for release in the US on 1 September. The album was recorded in the US last year and produced by Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano. Continue reading

Free Tibet concerts in Taipei


Thousands of people attended a Free Tibet Concert (西藏自由音樂會) held in the Xinyi District of Taipei yesterday. When the concert began at 1:30pm under blue skies and a scorching hot sun the crowd was quite small. However, by the late afternoon the crowd swelled.

The line up of bands represented some of Taiwan’s finest indie music. From start to finish the bands were:  KoOk, Enno Cheng (鄭宜農), Shoo Band (恕樂團), Chang Jui-chuan (張睿銓), Aphasia (阿飛西雅), Panai (巴奈), Dog G (大支), Fire Ex (滅火器), ChthoniC (閃靈) and LTK Commune (濁水溪公社).


Many young people attended the concert and Freddy Lim said in a speech that he wanted to show that the youth of Taiwan have ideas and a voice. Although the concert was about Tibet, a number of other important human rights issued were mentioned by performers. There were a few flags of East Turkestan (aka Xinjiang) in the crowd and the violence and oppression there was often mentioned. Continue reading

316 DPP rally in Taipei

316 DPP rally at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei

With only six days to go until Taiwan's Presidential Election both the DPP and KMT held rallies all over Taiwan today. I attended the DPP's rally at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Masses of people converged on the area as the KMT was holding a rally at the Songshan Tobacco Factory just across the road. I haven't seen any estimates of crowd numbers, but it would definitely have been in the tens of thousands if not more. 

Freddy Lim at the 316 DPP rally with Taipei 101 in the background

Freddy Lim, director of the DPP's youth campaign gives the number one sign to the crowd. His speech really fired up the crowd and he then led the chant of 逆轉勝 (nìzhuǎn shèng). He also sang the song that the DPP has been using in its campaign. I am sure the video of Freddy singing with Taipei 101 in the background will look great. 

316 DPP rally in Taipei - media scrum as Frank Hsieh arrives

Just before three o'clock Frank Hsieh arrived and made his way through the crowd. There was a huge scrum of security, media and supporters around him. The only photo of him I managed to capture was of the back of his head. Frank Hsieh gave a speech before the march started at the symbolic time of 3:14. 314 represents 14 March, the day in 2005 that the Chinese government enacted the Anti-Secession Law. 

Free Tibet protest at the DPP’s 316 rally in Taipei City

Leaving Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall I encountered a small group protesting about the current situation in Tibet. I had specially worn my t-shirt with a Tibetan prayer written on it to keep the people of Tibet in my mind. I am sure the crowd would have all been very sympathetic to their cause. In the week since I joined the Free Tibet march in Taipei, the situation in Tibet has suddenly exploded into violence. There are certain to be strong calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics now. People in Taiwan should reflect on how fortunate they are to be able to freely express their beliefs without the threat of violence.

Huge crowd at the DPP 316 rally on Ren’ai Road in Taipei

The huge crowd spilled out of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and on to Ren'ai Road. The people of Taiwan will go to the polls on next Saturday the 22nd of March. I have a feeling the result will be very close.   

*more photos in the 316 DPP rally photoset at flickr.  

ChthoniC is UNlimited

Limited vision, limited union;
Unlimited division, unlimited illusion;
Limited freedom, limited right;
Unlimited island, unlimited fight.

"UNlimited Taiwan" by ChthoniC (閃靈)

Read more about ChthoniC's UNlimited Taiwan tour of the USA in 2007. Freddy Lim is quoted in the article as saying:

It's quite abnormal that Taiwanese artists or performers have said so little on the issue of Taiwan's quest for international recognition, whether they choose not to or dare not to. I'm a musician, but I also have every right to speak about my own views as a Taiwanese citizen.

You rock Freddy! UN for Taiwan!

Update: Freddy Lim has been appointed executive director of the youth department for Frank Hsieh's presidential campaign. See Hsieh announces his campaign slogan. (added 19 Jan 2007)