--- By Charles
McHale Translated by Eva Huang
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
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.