Monday, July 19, 2004

Oh yes, there's still fun to be had

I want to join a girl group and run away to Japan! The 5,6,7,8's are my new favourite band.

There was a very exciting event here yesterday, which I only found out about on Saturday -- thank goodness, because it was exactly what this bitter expat needed: an outdoor music festival on a beach! Very exciting for several reasons, particularly because foreign bands rarely play here. Also because it was held on Fulong Beach, which is a fantastic spot: click for a pop-up photo. Also because it was free. And, oh yeah! Because the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion played, as did my new favourite band, the 5,6,7,8's. Woot!

I took the train to Fulong in the early afternoon and got to the beach around three-ish, iced latte in hand. It was packed, but there didn't seem to be the hoards of foreigners I'd been expecting: click for a pop-up. It was my first time to Fulong (stupid! stupid! it's gorgeous and you should've been coming here every weekend!). I walked around and explored a bit: click for the pop-up. Eventually I bought a cold can of beer from a scantily clad young lady and planted myself a ways back from the stage, next to the shore: click -- it's funny. And you know what I did next, don't you? That's right: I started knitting a sock. Jeez, you'd think Taiwanese people had never seen anyone knitting at an indie rock concert before...

A Japanese-Australian band called Mach Pelican was a very pleasant surprise, in a Green Day kind of way. And then the 5,6,7,8's came on! (Yes, you do know them if you saw Kill Bill, Vol. 1.) They were adorable playing their surf-punk music in their little sequined dresses and bouffants: click. Sadly, their set was way too short -- maybe eight songs.

Meanwhile, it was windy, and that soft, powdery sand gets everywhere. I still had it in my ears this morning. (Too windy to swim, apparently; the shore was promptly roped off as the wind picked up around 4:30.) Dark clouds started to gather, but it didn't rain. People were having a good time, and it was a really positive atmosphere. I noticed that Taiwanese twenty-somethings really enjoy burying one another in the sand. They do it a lot. Since the show was right on the beach, and it's a super-popular beach anyway, there were lots of families and older people around, too, which was cool. It is both hilarious and heartwarming to see four-year-olds dancing like crazy to live punk music. There was plenty of cheap beer available, but I didn't see anyone who was noticeably drunk. (Seriously, imagine a similar show back home with free admission and beer priced at just over one Canadian dollar a can. It would be really fun for, like, an hour, and then people would be yelling, and then there would be fights and sexual harassment and some dude throwing his shoes at the stage or something. What's up with that?) People danced. People ate a wide variety of barbecued meat on sticks. Once it got dark, people ran around with sparklers and laughed and took pictures of themselves.

There was also a smaller stage in the area above the beach, where local bands were playing. As I was walking by, there was a very noisy girl band playing. I have no idea who they were, but they were so cute: click!

The Dirty Three were another good surprise: instrumental, around a violin. Some of their music reminded me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and it totally suited being on a beach in the dark. After that, I walked around some more, and by about 8:30 I was feeling like I'd had enough -- but then I found the lone fry stand that offered French fries alongside all the meat chunks. Fortified by frozen fries cooked in what I can only guess was pork fat, I got another beer and headed back to the stage to wait for Jon Spencer. I'm not a huge fan, but I wanted to see them play for a bit. When they finally appeared, I was glad to see Jon Spencer was in full rockstar mode with black leather pants, a big glittery JSBX belt buckle, and an eagerness to drop to his knees or jump in the air every thirty seconds: click. I wanted to leave a little earlier than the million other people, so I let Mr. Spencer serenade me as I walked back toward the train. When I got to the platform, it was already pretty crowded; suddenly, fireworks started going off down at the beach (a good fifteen-minute walk away), and everyone waiting for the train went ooh! and ahh! and applauded! I thought that was sweet. (Maybe they were all drunk, but if so, a happier bunch of drunks I've never seen.)

The train was jammed, of course -- I actually couldn't squeeze onto the first one and had to wait for the next, and then it was standing room only. The ride back to Taipei was about an hour, and what do you know, I can knit while standing! Jeez, you'd think Taiwanese people had never seen anyone knitting on a train after an indie rock concert before...

I got home a little after midnight, where poor Billy had been all day with a bad tummy. Or, he said his tummy hurt, but really I think he wanted to stay home and watch the British Open. I stayed up with him until almost two watching the golf (yes, I watch golf), but I had to call it a night when the leaders went into a playoff. So I was a bit tired at work today, but it was my second-last Monday in the office, and I survived. And I have a new favourite band! Did I mention the 5,6,7,8's? (I'm not too happy about that apostrophe, though.)

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