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TAIWAN FUN MAGAZINE, February, 2007.


--- By Charles McHale Translated by Eva Huang

(02) 2369-0103
45, ShiDa Rd, B1
Hours: 8 pm-4 am;
Fri/Sat 8 pm-5 am
MRT: /Tai Power Building
Credit cards not accepted.
No service charge.
Smoking section allowed.

Di Xia She Hui, or Underworld, is the heart of Taipei's Indy Punk music scene. It opened 10 years ago amidst an explosion of Taiwanese independent rock. Back then it was one of only a handful of live venues. LTK, Luan Tan, Mayday, Tizzy Bac, Sugar Plum Ferry, Varo, 1976, Coach, 88 Guava Seeds, and Ladybug are just some of the bands that have made it big or are on their way, thanks to packed, sweaty shows on the tiny stage at this basement live house. Some foreign bands, like Deadly Vibes and Public Radio, are finding heaven in the depths, too.

Size isn't everything. Underworld gets packed quickly for good bands and the intimate setting produces some of the best energy you'll find in a live show. Cover charge is usually NT$300 with live shows on some Wednesdays and usually every Friday and Saturday.

When there's not a band, Underworld DJs spin listening music you're not likely to hear anywhere else in Taiwan. The boss, Zong Ming, has a formidable collection of music and will take your ears on a journey through Indy Pop and Rock with genre-bending excursions into Alt country, Punk and even some Jazz and Latin. The other Underworld DJs each add their own twist. The music isn't heavy on dance floor favorites, and most patrons just come to listen while having a drink with friends.

Underworld is about the music. The bar stocks all the usuals and there are snacks, but they're not trying to compete with the night market just outside the door. The decor is something easily pushed aside for bands, with the exception of the walls. Artist and Underworld DJ Keith has transformed the vertical spaces here, including the bathroom, into a non-stop mural, perhaps best described as a visit from cartoon punk-rock aliens. Keith's art lifts the gloom of a dimly-lit basement, but it's far from a trendy lounge bar. Underworld is for music lovers and simply one of Taipei's best places to see a live show.

Alcoholic drinks are strictly prohibited for those under 18.


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