This year, Modern Sky Festival leaves its home for the past two years at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park for Governor’s Island, but on Saturday, July 16, newcomer festival Taiwanese Waves fills the void by bringing three top bands from Taiwan to the venue for a free concert. Anpu (安溥), WonFu (旺福), and Sunset Rollercoaster (落日飛車) will be the first artists from Taiwan to perform as part of SummerStage, the New York institution that is the largest free performing arts festival in the city. Art done for Taiwanese Waves by visual designer Yaya Xu, who also created the animation that will open the concert and will be seen during transitions between sets, suggests that the show will be a treat for the senses.
Singer-songwriter Anpu, who previously recorded and toured as Deserts Xuan and Zhang Xuan (張懸), returns to New York to perform for the first time since 2014. She began composing at age 13, performing at 16, and became a well-known performer at live houses, cafes, and online before releasing her first album My Life Will… in 2006. Since then, she has released three more albums and has been nominated multiple times for Asia’s prestigious Golden Melody Award. Her tender sound has attracted sell-out crowds, touched listeners, and established her as one of the most important alternative artists of her generation. Under her new monicker, she looks to explore new identities and roles as composer, producer, poet and music director of her concerts.
Radiating playfulness and humor as they sing in Taiwanese and Mandarin, Wonfu –lead vocalist/lead guitarist Yao Xiao-Min, bassist Twiggy, vocalist/guitarist Mami, and drummer Dopy — brings “fun rock” to the stage. Though often decked out in mod fashion of the 60s and heard professing their love of Motown and The Beatles, the four piece is quite eclectic. At SXSW 2013, lead singer and lead guitarist Yao told The AU Review, “We love any kind of music style, and we try to play and translate it into ‘Wonfu’s language’. So we do jazz, funk, rock, hard rock, metal, anything, latin music, and we do it in our style — Wonfu style, and make it sound very happy.” Their exuberance can be seen in their eye-catching music videos.
Since 1998, the group has been nominated for “Best Band” at the Golden Melody Award, had a number of sold-out tours, has regularly played music festivals in Asia, and made the first of multiple appearances at SXSW in 2011.
Sunset Rollercoaster is a Taiwanese rock band now composed of singer, guitarist and songwriter Kuo Hung Tseng, bassist Hung Li Cheng, keyboardist Shao Hsuan Wang, drummer Lo Tsun Lung, and percussionist Hao Chia Chang. The band’s debut album Bossa Nova was self-released on September 22, 2011, to immediate critical acclaim. After the debut release tour in Taiwan and Japan – including playing at Summer Sonic Festival – the band went on a long hiatus to refocus and work on other projects. In 2015, Sunset Rollercoaster reunited and went back on tour. The band released its new EP Jinji Kikko on March 1, 2016.
Sunset Rollercoaster’s musical style fuses multiple genres, from soul and garage to psychedelic rock and synth-pop. Most of the songs discuss the fantasy of love and psychedelic experiences with rather absurd lyrics.
Taiwanese Waves has also teamed up with Sofar Sounds to present additional shows by the three acts in SoHo, Williamsburg, and Flatiron on July 13, 14, and 15, respectively. Sofar’s model is to organize concerts in informal venues — a coffee shop, an office building, or someone’s home. Audiences do not know who is performing or the location of the show (other than the neighborhood) until the day before the show. The show on July 13 is sold out, and our guess is that Anpu is playing that night. Sunset Rollercoaster announced on their Facebook page that they are playing for Sofar on July 14, which leaves Wonfu for July 15.
Sunset Rollercoaster also announced on their Facebook page that they will play a secret show on July 21 (Update: Rockwood Music Hall at 11 PM) and at Baby’s All Right on July 24. We’ll let you know if Anpu and Wonfu play any other shows in NYC.
Saturday, July 16, 6 – 10 PM (Doors at 5 PM)
Rumsey Playfield, Central Park (at E. 69th St.)
Photos courtesy of Taiwanese Waves and Yaya Xu.
Correction: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that this is the first time SummerStage has hosted artists from Asia. It is the first time SummerStage is hosting artists from Taiwan.