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The COMPASS Group > August 2008

Ronald Lin


Winner of 2008 Hohaiyan Rock Festival: The White Eyes--Chaotic & Out-of-Control

By Ronald Lin (Host of the HitFM Radio Network) Translated by Ann Lee
Photos by tcm



In 1994, Green Day's release of "Dookie" helped pull pop punk into the mainstream and attract a large a large fan base for fast-paced, angsty music. Since then, pop punk and post punk revival groups have sprouted up all over the world, telling their youth-filled stories with power chords and racing drum beats.

Though the genre has no shortage of acts and catchy one-hit wonders, there are few bands that are original, memorable and able to stay consistently popular for more than two months. In Taiwan, the scene is no different.

Passion-filled stage performances make up for lack of serious, innovative musicality and the young age of the musicians gives the appearance that they lack much experience. In Taiwan, popular young bands include Loh Tsui Kweh Commune, who are known for their criticism of society, strong character and sporty onstage image, and 88 Balaz, another local punk pop band that strives to write quality lyrics.

There are, however, certain exceptions to the punk-pop formula and, in Taiwan, we see that difference with The White Eyes. The group, which just won an award at the 2008 Hohaiyan Rock Festival, is a great example of a punk pop band that stands out from the rest.
The group has been around for three years and released an EP in April. The White Eyes is made up of lead singer Xiao Gao, guitarist Telecat, bassist Chung Yu, and drummer Xiao Ju Hua. In Chinese, "white eyes" means "idiotic" and the members first used this name as a joke until it eventually grew on them.

y female in this band, vocalist Xiao Gao, has exaggerated on-stage moves and her eclectic, sometimes revealing wardrobe remind me of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Live performances feature the guitar and bass, cranked up, of course, so the audience can feel the ground shake with the reverb. Xiao Gao has an outstanding voice, quite explosive to be exact, which gives her music a chaotic energy. She really radiates energy and pulls the audience along right with her, so the scene quickly gets a bit out of control. And, really, isn't that what it's all about?

The style and music of The White Eyes reminds me of Sonic Youth. Their on-stage energy and stage presence makes them a one-of-a-kind band in Taiwan. Recently, The White Eyes started the show at the first annual Hohaiyan Rock Festival, which was also a release concert for 88 Balaz. The fact that they were first is a preview of a new generation of pop punk energy that Taiwan is about to release. This makes me look forward to their official debut album. Though I'm a bit impatient for it, I know it will be worth waiting for.

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