Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fabulous Formosa


A month ago my cousin visited Taiwan for the first time. Not wanting him to leave Taiwan with only memories of my living room and PJ’s, we headed to Taipei. A long time ago, I knew some people in Taipei but most have left for greener pastures. Not knowing what to do at night in the big city I picked up a copy of the China Post and saw a preview for a show at the nightclub Sappho with the live hip-hop band, Fluent, playing.

After some beer, Japanese barbeque and World Cup Football we headed to Anhe Road and down into the basement of Sappho. On the way to the show I was a bit apprehensive. Most of the live music I have seen in Taiwan has been wildly underwhelming and Taiwan hip-hop (MC Hotdog aside) is excruciatingly painful. Fluent, primarily from Canada, are a 5-piece band with guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and vocals that play live-hop. Live hip-hop is hip-hop with the DJ replaced by a band. I have been into live hip-hop since Stetsasonic in the 80s and list the Roots as one of my all-time favorite bands.

Fluent did not disappoint, to be honest the show was a bit overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting the carefully mixed jazz, funk and hip hop with a dollop of rock. I wasn’t expecting a mixed crowd bumping and grooving to the music. I wasn’t expecting a drummer like Tyler or a bassist like Mike who complimented each other and kept the beats lively all night long. I also wasn’t expecting tight guitarist Greg and keyboardist Lio to keep things rolling with an interesting interplay and some excellent solos. And finally I wasn’t expecting the interesting and tight delivery of MC Chazz. The only negative from the evening was that some of the vocalist Chazz’ lyrics were overshadowed by the instruments. It was difficult to hear him clearly on a few tracks; this was the result of the poor acoustics in the room or a weak sound system.

Fluent played three sets and my highlights were the songs; Let ‘em Know, Act Fast, Pay Me, For the Streets and Ghetto Green. They also played a few excellent instrumentals that really showed off the skills of the band. If I had to compare Fluent to any other band, it would be the Roots, which is high praise in my estimation. Unfortunately, this was their last show. Some of the band members are leaving Taiwan but the band claims that they will try to stay together. I can only hope they do as it took me over 8 years to find some great hip-hop in Taiwan.

Check out their web page at www.areyoufluent.com for bios, lyrics and hopefully some MP3s in the future.

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2 comments:

andres said...

hi, you've been featured here:

http://taiwanblogs.blogspot.com/

Fluent said...

This is Greg, Fluent's guitarist. We're about to start releasing some music on our webite. Send us your email address and we'll let you know as soon as it's there. Log on to the website, or just send me an email to greg@areyoufluent.com.

And thanks for the great revue!

Ciao,

Greg