Audience members

Last Saturday I went to Smile Taiwan (微笑台灣), a free outdoor concert. This year’s line-up featured Wonfu Jr (小旺福) one of my favorite bands, Pau-dull (陳建年, also known as Chen Jian-nian), Yan Yung-neng (嚴詠能) and Takaorun (打狗亂歌團) and Beautiful Haiyan (美麗心民謠). It was amazing and I found some new favorites for my music collection. For more information, read my review in today’s Taipei Times.

Pau-dull (陳建年)

Pau-dull, who opened the show, is known for mixing influences from his Puyuma Aboriginal background and American folk music. One of his biggest hits is Ho-Hai-Yan (海洋); when he announced that he was playing it as the last song of his set, a big cheer went up from the crowd.

Wonfu Jr recently added the “Jr” to their name to mark the release of their new album “Flying to You, Flying to Me” (飛向你飛向我), which is filled with “kid’s rock and roll.” They were inspired by a 2009 visit to the Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon. After seeing how the camp’s instructors encouraged young girls to try out different types of music — punk, reggae, country — they decided to make a concept album that would introduce rock to children. One of my favorite tracks is Little Eyes (小眼睛), which samples soundtracks and noises from Eighties video games. The band’s music videos are always fantastic and hilarious.

I am also in love with singer Mami’s outfit to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Wonfu Jr's (小旺福) Mami

A lot of the audience members left after Wonfu Jr’s set. One of the reasons is because they were most famous group performing and a lot of people probably showed up just to see them. Unfortunately, Smile Taiwan’s organizers also had 5-10 minutes speeches between each set to honor sponsors and give out awards, which slowed down the event’s pacing. It was a cold, cloudy day and I think they should have added those things to the press conference/opening ceremony before the concert.

The people who left missed out on two fantastic performances. Yan Yung-neng and Takaorun won last year’s Golden Melody Award for Best Taiwanese-Language Album. Most of their tracks are written in Hoklo and are rousing calls for cultural pride. I can’t understand Hoklo, but I love the way it sounds when sung.

During the performance, they had robot performers dressed as a farmer and a soldier join them up on stage. The robots then marched into the audience to hand out postcards. To be honest, they scared the bejeebus out of me.

Takaorun's (打狗亂歌團) robot man 2
Takaorun's (打狗亂歌團) robot man 1

Beautiful Haiyan‘s members represent several different Aboriginal tribes (Amis, Puyuma and Rukai). Their songs incorporate traditional melodies and Aboriginal language lyrics. I bought one of their 2006 self-titled release. The packaging is fantastic, with all explanatory notes and lyrics are translated into English. I also downloaded Song of the Shepherd Boy (牧童之歌) off iTunes. It features yodeling! I love yodeling. This YouTube video was shot at a performance last year:

As a bonus, here is Singaporean singer Sakura’s (櫻花) 1960 recording of the song: