Kezailiao –A hidden gem of rock music in the guise of a fishing town／蚵仔寮 現代漁村桃花源
A hidden gem of rock music in the guise of a fishing town
◎English translation: Peng Hsin-yi
◎Photos by Lin Yu-hung
Kezailiao in Ziguan District is a little town by the sea where generations have made their living by fishing. It is a simple place with a simple life style, but for visitors it holds a certain charm.
Most of Kezailiao's fishing boats and bamboo rafts make their ways back to the port around noon, and that is when this tranquil town comes to life. Fishermen have to act fast in order to unload the catch and send it to the nearby Kezailiao Seafood Auction. This is the biggest auction site for inshore fisheries in Taiwan; regularly frequented by restaurateurs, it also supplies seafood to retail stores and evening produce markets in Kaohsiung. It is not an exaggeration to say that Kezailiao can take considerable credit for enriching Kaohsiung's dinner tables.
On holidays, Kezailiao's fish market is a tourist hot spot. The narrow aisles inside the market are lined by over 100 seafood shops, and the market is usually packed with visitors. There is incredible variety, and almost everyone who comes here makes a purchase, taking home the freshest seasonal tastes.
Locals in Kezailiao want outsiders to truly know the place. And they have succeeded in this, if quite by accident. In 2012, the Parent-Teacher Association of Keliao Junior High School planned a beach party featuring beer, barbeque and a live band. The guest list was a modest 500 people, just friends and family. But this modest event, despite its meager budget, somehow mobilized the entire town. They hired an indie band and called the event "Fishing Town Mini Rock Festival at Kezailiao." Through Facebook connections and word of mouth, the concert attracted more than 4,000 people, becoming a huge hit!
Ms. Kang Yici, one of those working at the event, recalled that the indie bands they booked had large fan bases, and as they followed the bands to Kezailiao, they connected with local people, conversations ensued, and the rest is history.
Thanks to the concert, the locals became more confident about their way of life. Because of the Mini Rock Festival, many people in the music industry became friends with Kezailiao locals, including singer-songwriter Sie Mingyou. Mr. Sie listened to the story of local resident Mr. Cai Dengcai, who was born and raised in Kezailiao, fell in love, got married and raised children of his own. Afterward, he made a pilgrimage to all the spots Mr. Cai had mentioned, and wrote a song with Taiwanese lyrics called "My Home, My Love" for Mr. Cai to sing. This song was made into an EP and released in 2014 to coincide with the second "Fishing Town Mini Rock Festival at Kezailiao.
The second festival earned the support of many well-known indie bands because of its unique setup and the fact it was created entirely by locals. They came to perform even though the organizers were only able to offer a symbolic payment to cover their transportation costs. But the festival has gained depth and character. Mr. Cai says he was never exposed to indie music at all until the first festival, during which the singers were given time to talk to the audience about the stories behind their songs.
Mr. Cai says it was then he realized that when he used to listen to music, he was only listening to the surface of a song. Now, he has finally learned to listen to the soul of each song, and conjure the images the artist is trying to convey. The songs have become more endearing because of that. Taking us to the small cove where he used to meet his love, he sang us "My Home, My Love." His singing, backed by spectacular ocean views, rings the wonder of Kezailiao.
Kezailiao host the third "Fishing Town Mini Rock Festival" in February 2015. This time, the festival invited 19 bands to perform, and the festival included the premiere of the documentary, which recorded the town's recent transformation.
Check out Kezailiao when you have time; you will not be disappointed. This is a place that caters to people of different tastes, whether you wanted to experience the charm of a fishing town, taste the freshest seafood, or enjoy killer views of waves hitting the shore. But what is most likely to make you come back is the natural warmth of the local people. Everyone is made to feel welcome!