A Month of Metal in Taipei / Taichung

A review of Slipknot: Rock in Taiwan – November 3rd, 2016 in New Taipei City.

Followed by a preview for Heartown Festival in Taichung – November 26th-27th (1,800nt/2,800nt)

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 This article was written by a co-worker, Adam, who plays drums in a local Taipei band, “A Fish Out of Vodka” and enjoys attending rock, metal, and alternative concerts.

IT promises to be a November to remember for metal fans in Taiwan. Although Halloween may have come and gone, ghoulish mask aficionados were not left wanting in New Taipei City on Thursday night. November 3rd had been highlighted in blood on many calendars across the city’s capital for months and earlier this week, the day finally arrived. Slipknot was in the country. An estimated 1,500 people descended on the typically functionally named New Taipei City Industrial and Commercial Exhibition Center, in Wugu.

The local crowds were in high spirits around the venue and the only convenience store in close proximity had snail-shell lines looping around the inside of the place and out of the door. This was due to food, drink and alcohol being unavailable inside the venue. This seemed like an interesting decision to make and surely a loss of potential income for the organisers of the event, Rock Boom.

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With Slipknot due to grace the stage at 20:00, many fans were still outside enjoying the cool fall evening at 19:45. This didn’t bode well for the support act, Ego Fall, who had started playing at 19:00 when the doors were opened for non-V.I.P. ticket holders. I didn’t make it into the venue in time to see any of Ego Fall. However, if you are interested in giving them more of a chance than I did, more information is available at THIS LINK.

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As the lights went dark and the ominous “Be Prepared for Hell…” echoed around the arena, Slipknot were finally unleashed on the county for the first time in the band’s more than 20 year career. Put simply, they didn’t disappoint. With a set-list of 18 songs, spanning their entire catalogue from 1999’s self-titled studio debut to 2014’s ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’, each track was delivered with passion and venom. After a powerful opening three songs, the show came alive with Grammy Award-winning ‘Before I Forget.’ With the crowd in full voice, and the pit shaking, this was the moment the show transcended the level of performance normally available to a Taiwanese audience. Following this emphatic start, the mood shifted as reflective numbers, ‘Killpop’ and ‘Dead Memories’ were played back to back. At the mid-point of the set, these served as opportunities for this aging reviewer to catch his breath, and simultaneously bust his vocal chords singing along. The true majesty of this band is that even their slower songs still bring a heartfelt and manic response from those in attendance.

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From here, it was nothing but back to back hits, as the band harvested the best they have produced from five studio albums. Psychosocial was a particular highlight for the audience. It is an extremely popular song in Taiwan, as I have witnessed first-hand at rock clubs around the capital. Recent addition Jay Weinberg proved himself more than capable of delivering Joey Jordison’s iconic drum fills and breaks throughout the song. By the time the band closed out their main set with classic track (SIC), the crowd were still baying for more. The lyrics to this closing song, “You can’t kill me, because I’m already inside you,” could have been written about the infective atmosphere of the show itself.

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And what a show it was, the only slight disappointment being the absence of Clown. Lead-singer Corey Taylor informed the crowd during a break between tracks that Shawn Crahan (Clown) had unfortunately had to return to Iowa for a family emergency. Even this sombre moment was turned to a positive by having the Clown mask held high on a pole above his usual percussion perch, which was still turning and bouncing in sync with Chris Fehn’s on the other side of the stage.

Nothing was going to untie Slipknot on this cathartic night of rock. Despite being a member down, the crowd became the “9th man” and by the time the band had returned for a three song encore, including the traditional big ‘sit-down’ for show closer, ‘Spit it Out’, they had far exceeded the promise of the show’s title ‘Slipknot: Rock in Taiwan.’ Corey’s new “Family” in the arena were given a gift of some of the world’s finest heavy metal.

SLIPKNOT: ***** (5) (Impossible to fault.)

VENUE: **** (4) (Only one bathroom, with LONG lines, and no food or drink on sale.)

ORGANISATION: **** ½ (4.5) (Clear and detailed information, no official English translations.)

Set list:

  1. Prepare for Hell (Intro)
  2. The Negative One
  3. Disasterpiece
  4. Eyeless
  5. Before I Forget
  6. The Shape
  7. Killpop
  8. Dead Memories
  9. The Heretic Anthem
  10. Psychosocial
  11. Left Behind
  12. Custer
  13. The Devil in I
  14. Skin Ticket
  15. Wait And Bleed
  16. (SIC)

 

ENCORE

  1. Surfacing
  2. Duality
  3. Spit it Out

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL:

At the end of the month, the 3rd Annual Heartown Festival will be held once again in Taichung, Taiwan. This year, the festival is happening across Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November 2016. It will be held at the Asia Series Baseball Stadium and costs $2,800nt for both days (single day tickets available for $1,800nt).

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This event has suffered terrible luck in its first two years. The first year was a smaller show in the TADA Centre in Taichung. It was a great event, marred slightly by some typical July rain showers. However, last year things got a whole lot worse! Held in early August, the festival was blown away by a vicious typhoon. Despite this, the organisers worked tirelessly to rebuild the stages, reorganise the line-up and still managed to get the vast majority of the bands on stage all in one day.  Headliners Limp Bizkit and The Used played to a sizeable crowd. Many demanded refunds, which were honoured despite not legally needing to be. This surely meant the festival took a big hit financially, but they are BACK!

That’s the history, and this year will surely be third time lucky for the event. Headliners Architects (UK) and Veil of Maya (US) are joined by an onslaught of great metal and rock from around Asia and the rest of the world. Highlights promise to be Capture the Crown and I Killed The Prom Queen (AU), Young Guns (UK), Totalfat (JP), Retrospect (TH) and my personal local favorites, P!SCO (TW).

If you’re a metal and rock fan or simply want to support live music in Taiwan, this is not an event to be missed. It’ll be a great showcase of everything great about the Asian rock scene and you’ll be sure to find at least one great act you’ve never heard of. I’ll be there!

More information can be found at:

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