Emerge Live House
By Courtney Donovan Smith
Translated by Naomi Lai
12, Lane 55, XinXing Rd, Longjing Township (near Tunghai University)
Hours (Emerge Live House): Fri-Sun 7-9:30 pm
Hours (Peace Coffee/Gamaa Records): Wed-Sun 3:30-9:30 pm
Door charge (Emerge): NT$250-400 (depending on band).
Credit cards not accepted.
Menu in Chinese only.
Most businesses open to make lots of money. Not Nuno Chen. Nuno is on a mission to share his passion: live original music. He himself plays with with locally respected 1980s-style heavy metal band The Tonic. He runs independent music label Gamaa Records, which mostly publishes CDs of Taichung-area bands, but has also carried better-known acts like cia-cia (the easiest place to find their CDs is at Eslite bookstores). He has helped organize music events for the city government. He opened the live music venue Nuno's Live House. Not many have done so much for so long to help original music thrive in Taichung.
Seeking to improve on Nuno's Live House, Nuno moved to a new venue in 2007 and re-named it Emerge. Much care and expense went into the stage setup, which is much bigger than most spots of this size would boast. His priority is the sound, not maximizing seating space. The drummer is in an enclosed glass box so the beats can be isolated to seven dedicated microphones and will not interfere with the sound of the other instruments. The result is a sound that is crisp, clean, clear and was, on the night I was there, used to powerful effect by hard rock band Wind in the Sky. Their singer Roy, an owner of another venue with live bands, commented, "We're proud to perform here, it's a big deal for underground bands". There is also a decent light show and smoke machine.
The bar is decorated in red and black, with day-glo paintings and Che Guevara images spray-painted on the tables. The crowd is a mix of serious music lovers and students, mostly from nearby Tunghai University. Drinks are priced outrageously low, with NT$50 for a can of Taiwan Beer and large draft beers only NT$80--but again Nuno is aiming to please, not make a fortune.
Emerge is located downstairs from Peace Coffee, and is only open from Friday to Sunday. Peace Coffee is a nice spot open from Wednesday to Sunday, featuring the Gamaa music CD collection and apparently one of only two shops in Taiwan to carry Fair Trade coffees (which ensure good wages for coffee growers in poor countries).