SXSW Review: Taiwanese Night – Miss Ko, Matzka, March 14, Elysium


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With Korea and Japan making big waves during SXSW Music for a few years now, it only made sense that other Asian countries take a shot at introducing their music to the world at SXSW (before we are all not allowed in). In the past few years, Taiwan has made slow and steady progress with this strategy but this time around, it appears the country fully committed to it by booking the Elysium for the showcase. Elysium was the former home of the Kpop showcase, which has grown in popularity so much it was moved to the gigantic outdoor venue known as the Belmont. Following this recipe would be a great idea.

A wide variety of acts peppered the Taiwanese night but I only attended the following two:

Matzka
One of the greatest things about these nights is that you always come away with new knowledge. When Matzka took the stage on Tuesday night, they did not fit the stereotype I had for a Taiwanese night. Rugged, with dreadlocks and a much darker complexion, Matzka is comprised of aboriginal and members of the Paiwan tribe, a group that resides in Southern Taiwan and has Polynesian roots. It was a far cry from the clean cut, well produced pop idol looks I had seen in other Asian country showcases. The group played reggae rock and buoyed by the front man’s boundless energy and fun demeanour, the group had the crowd at the Elysium bumping and dancing

Miss Ko
The “Queen of Taiwanese Hip Hop” (according to some googling), Miss Ko followed a more familliar path as some other Asian idols. Born in the Bronx, Miss Ko took her hip hop ambitions to Taiwan, learned some mandarin and became a star. This is a path that others in other countries have followed and it’s a successful blue print. With a mix of English and Mandarin, Miss Ko’s set showed her diversity as an artist, with songs ranging a large span of hip hop music including 90’s inspired G-funk sounds to recent Southern trap. A nice touch with her set was that Miss Ko made no intentions of hiding the fact that she was new to the Mandarin language and even wrote a song trying to teach other people Mandarin, which was pretty cute. It was all a good clean fun hip hop set that doesn’t try to be hard for one second, which is refreshing given the genre’s typical associations with that sort of thing. She ended off the set with a homage to hip hop, rapping to tracks by House of Pain and Blackstreet.

I went into Taiwan night expecting typical pop music, but came away impressed by the wide variety of music I saw. You learn something new every day.

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Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

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