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Tibetan freedom performers to rock on

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American band Beastie Boys to headline show as organizers say local bands refuse invitations

By Hung-fu Hsueh,
Staff Reporter

Squashing rumors of a possible pullout, the famous hip-hop trio Beastie Boys is set to headline the Tibetan Freedom Concert this Sunday at the Sungshan Cigarette Factory in Taipei. This year’s show marks the 10th concert for the event since 1996 and its first time to be held in Taiwan.

Tibet Freedom Concert was established to draw international attention and support for Tibet’s liberation against Chinese occupation. This time around, the Beastie Boys was invited by the Taiwan Rock Ally Music corporation (TRA) and Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation to headline the Taipei concert.

The concert will also feature performances by pop singer Bobby Chen with the New Treasure Island Band as well as local group Tizzy Bac. Nawang Kherchog, the Grammy-nominated Tibetan musician, will also perform.

The Taipei concert will also showcase for the very first time a group from China – Hong Kong’s hip-pop group LMF – who also lend their support to the free-Tibet campaign.

The concert’s coordinator, Freddy Lin, speaking for LMF, said that despite being Hong Kong citizens, they still sympathize with the suffering of the Tibetan people and support the free-Tibet movement.

While some local bands opted to perform at the concert, others were more hesitant to attend due to the event’s political nature and its controversial stance against Chinese occupation in Tibet.

Lin said some local musicians rejected his invitation to attend the concert out of fear of hurting their record sales in the lucrative China market or being banned by the Beijing government to perform China in the future.

Lin refused to disclose the names but said some were the most popular bands and signers in Taiwan.

Among the local performing groups is composer and singer Bobby Chen. At the press conference yesterday, Lin asked the singer about the possibility of losing the China market by attending the concert.

“Well, if the Chinese market is gone for me, just let it be,” Chen answered.

Chen said jokingly that the reason he decided to attend the concert is because his idol Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) asked him to perform.

Hsiao, also a member of the Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation, spoke on behalf of the foundation at yesterday’s conference. Hsiao said what moved her most about the Tibetan Freedom Concert was that it was completely initiated by young people who have been working to promote the concert for two years.

Recalling his contact with the Beastie Boys over the last three years, Lin said the band members in the beginning did not want to hold the concert in Taiwan because they thought the Taiwan government was still an authoritarian regime and not a democratic society.

“During my e-mail or phone contact with the manager of Beastie Boys, he even asked me not to publicly mention the band’s name in Taiwan, believing that it would bring trouble on me,” said Lin.

“After persuading them that Taiwan was already a completely democratic country, and with a little help from the Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation, they finally agreed to hold the Tibetan Freedom Concert in Taiwan,” said Lin.

The Tibetan Freedom concert was initiated by Beastie Boys and the Milareparu Foundation (set up by Beastie Boys) in 1996. The Beastie Boys is one of the most respected bands in their genre. The Tibet Freedom Concert has been held in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Sydney, San Francisco, New York and other large cities. The first Tibet Freedom Concert was held in 1996 in San Francisco and drew a crowd of 100,000. Many famous groups have attended concert including the Smashing Pumpkins, the Foo Fighters, Bjork, the Red hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, and Beck.

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