By Jocelle Koh
Photographs by Daniel Soo Poh Soo @ Livehouse
Special Thanks to Livehouse SG
As I neared the Pavilion in Far East Square last Friday night, I rubbed my tired eyes and did a double take. Although I knew Taiwanese rock band Eggplantegg were to be performing here later tonight to a sold-out crowd, this large a fanbase was not what I expected at all.
Snaking into tightly packed rows of concert-goers eagerly awaiting entrance to the venue, this was the largest turnout for an indie Mandarin music event I had ever seen in Singapore; a little bit of a miracle seeing as dialect music such as the band’s Taiwanese/Hokkien tunes are unable to be played on local radio.
Yet the band was certainly not ready to disappoint as they showed up on stage to the raucous cheers of their local fanbase, kicking off the night with ‘你不懂我的這款愛情’, a moody, reflective piece which sucked the audience right in.
Featuring frontman and keyboardist Ng KiPin’s gravelly and unique vocals against an eclectic backdrop of Taiwanese rock, the theatrical elements of the band’s recorded works truly stood out in a live setting.
Although my Taiwanese is rusty by all standards, the amazing band proved that music truly does transcend language barriers with their body language; playful and raucous as they tried to interact with the audience, and their larger-than-life sound.
Playing it up with old favourites from their first album such as ‘Ms. Doremi’, a roaring profession of love and the very Taiwanese ‘波克比的愛’ replete with the best guitar solos I’ve heard in a while, the band also took the time to share some unreleased songs with a very willing audience such as ‘用愛賺錢’ and ‘盛開的花與糖’.
But an hour into the performance, things started to get really wild, with some older favourites coming into play after a short intermission. One of my favourite parts of the evening was the golden melody award-winning band’s performance of their song “日常”.
Sticking quite closely to the original arrangement as recorded, it was nevertheless a special, intimate moment. With nothing more than the sounds of an acoustic guitar and those heartbreakingly simple hooks on the piano, every heart in the room was touched and warmed by the bittersweet comfort of the band’s offerings.
Teasing the audience’s appetite with an intermission playing the music videos of two of their most popular hits ‘浪流連’ and ‘浪子回頭’, the Singaporean crowd seemed particularly engaged that night, singing along to every word and treating it as a bonus karaoke session.
It made us remember even more why we loved the quirky band’s eclectic yet human style of Taiwanese rock even more. So when the moment of the night came for the band to perform the latter, it was even more special.
With the audience singing along in full force and the band putting their back into the performance, there were smiles all around as the audience and musicians truly fused into an empowering chorus that warmed the hearts of everyone in the room. Thinking back, I still remember that moment every time I listen to the song, and that is truly a special feeling.
Although the band stuck relatively closely to the script in terms of musical arrangement for the performance, it was nevertheless a great vibe coming from them that night as they bantered with each other playfully onstage and showed their true appreciation for the audience who came out that night to support them.
Frontman Ng particularly stood out to me for the way he weaved like water around the entire performance, and for his interesting stage presence. While his keyboard was not always the star of the show, you could see he was so invested in the final product the band was putting out, with his hilarious mimicking of guitar solos and constant jaunts around the stage.
Props to him for whipping out the erhu and wowing our socks off during the show too. Guitarists Tsai Kai-Jen and Ader Hsieh were polar opposites; one of them standing silent and strong with moody, electric guitar solos while the other playful, chatty and larrikin.
All in all, this night reminded me in full force what an impact Eggplantegg’s music has on people. For all their crazy attitude and colourful songs; they nevertheless have managed to come up with a perfect balance between fusing tradition and new elements in their music; so much so that it becomes truly accessible for ANYONE.
No matter If you speak the dialect or not; there is just this subtle kindness and sincerity in Eggplantegg’s music that transcends it all. Time, space, and most importantly; culture.
The award-winning band’s music has a certain magical quality to it, rendering them a true powerhouse and phenomenon bringing Taiwanese music to the forefront in contemporary Mandarin music. And for that, I am truly grateful to be able to witness them in action live.
03. Ms. Doremi