One of the things about living in a different country is you get to observe all the things that are probably completely normal to the locals, but which have that unmistakable quality of otherness for the expat or economic migrant, such as myself.
Despite being a country that retains an unwavering and perhaps inexplicable love for Air Supply and Europe, one of the bigger bands round these parts are Chthonic, a metal band. They've been around a couple of decades. They're also pretty political, on the leftist/progressive side of things, which around these parts often also means anti-China. China insists Taiwan is Chinese, and the majority of Taiwanese say we are, and always have been, Taiwanese. They have their own flag and their own elected government. It's a little more complicated than that, but at heart that's the essence of it.
Anyway, the singer is running for a government post. There's an election coming up next year. All this came together in the form of a free concert at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. Here's what the Guardian said about it in an article:
"Wearing combat boots, lead singer Freddy Lim held the stage with the brand of music that has seen the Taiwanese “black metal” band dubbed the Black Sabbath of Asia.Naturally, we went along. It was pretty good. I haven't been at a full-out metal gig since I saw Opeth sometime in the mid-2000s. I'd have to think about it to be sure. But there's something decidedly surreal at being at a gig like this and seeing various besuited politicians trotting up onto stage between songs to rouse the crowd. Now try and picture Hilary Clinton turning up at a Rage Against the Machine gig, and you're pretty much there.
But this was not just any gig: it was also a political rally ahead of a crucial year for Taiwan. Described as a “concert to calm the soul and defend the nation”, the event was intended to energise Taiwanese youth and gain political support for Lim’s new role – as a parliamentary candidate for the New Power party (NPP).
The party, which was formed earlier this year, emerged out of Taiwan’s 2004 Sunflower student movement and represents, said Lim, a means “to channel the energy and frustration of young activists and frustrated Taiwanese” ahead of the parliamentary elections on 16 January."
Here's a short clip from the gig to give you a wee taste of what the experience was like. There were a LOT of people there. We were stuck somewhere way, way, way at the back.