Dooley White Party @ Hotel ONE
@ Retro Cafe
The search for live music in Taichung
By Patrick Byrne Translated by Ann Lee
Photos by Alison Bain, Courtney Donovan Smith and Cheryl Chen
These days, looking for what's going on in Taichung's original, live music scene is akin to embarking on a treasure hunt. With the recent economic downturn, many nightspots have either closed their doors or switched from live music to, well, all-you-can-drink specials and a CD on repeat. There are still some gems out there, but you have to be willing to seek them out.
Very few places offer original live music and, if you are looking for a jazz club, don't, as there are none! However, there are a few spots that occasionally book jazz combos and one of these is Retro Cafe (116, WuQuan W Rd, Sec 1; 2375-5592). From 8-10 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, you can go there to sip a great coffee, have a beer and enjoy folk, pop and jazz performed by a variety of different bands for a NT$150 cover that includes a NT$50 discount on your first coffee. It is cozy and intimate and offers a very up close and personal musical experience.
If you're more party oriented, there are several places that feature both Taiwanese and foreign bands playing original music. Lounge ONE (532, YingCai Rd; 2303-1234) is one of these, located on the 29th floor of Hotel ONE next to People's Park, and hosts special theme parties once a month. 89K (21, DaGuan Rd; Closed) features live bands every Friday and Saturday from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. There is usually a cover charge of NT$300, which comes with a beer but not always a seat. This popular nightspot is bare bones and features a variety of great local and foreign bands performing a mix of covers and original music, ranging from blues to rock and everything in between.
The Londoner (143, HuaMei W St, Sec 1; 2314-6919), known primarily as a sports bar, is now booking live music on Fridays and Saturdays when there are no major sports events being televised on their big screen. There is a also a new addition to the live music venue scene in Taichung called Light (85, HuaMei W St; 2328-0118). Small but tastefully lit, it has a nice lay-out and a full stage set-up, with live bands playing Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Take the time to check out some or all of the options above and you'll probably find something to sate your live music cravings.
Patrick Byrne does sax and vocals for popular Taichung-based bands 'round midnight and Money Shot Horns, and frequently helps organize live music for local venues and events.