Bittersweet like brown sugar dough nuts and black coffee, Cheer Chen is an intriguing singer-songwriter that writes simple melodies on acoustic guitar and piano and sings about killing time with cups of coffee, travel to foreign lands and the loneliness of waiting around. She has managed to draw many fans from the college crowd as well as mainstream listeners. As a university student she made a couple of homemade demos before she was picked up by the island's major label Rock Records. Because of the label's preference for heavier bands, she came to be known among her fans as "The Angel of Rock." Since 1998, she has released several albums and collections that feature elaborate production and instrumentation. At the same time, Cheer has managed to keep to her indie roots recording a series of self-produced singles in her bedroom with only her guitar which have been released on the minor label A Good Day.
Cheer Chen still avidly plays around the island mostly at arena concerts and major festivals, but also at the occasional live house. I had the chance to experience both settings, first at the Autumn Tiger festival at Wu Lai and the next at the Witch House, a more intimate music cafe. At Wu Lai, she wore a riding outfit and played her usual Gibson Hummingbird while the audience sang along and some fans jumped around with maracas. The Witch House show was slightly different with people sitting in rows of folding chairs, listening attentively and Cheer opting for the more relaxed jeans and T-shirt look. One thing that struck me at both performances was the significantly darker "Sentimental Kills," her only song completely in English and one of the recent demo singles put out on A Good Day. Her latest A Good Day single entitled "Pussy," also sung in English, "was recorded live at Taipei Main Station to recapture an impressionistic moment riding the Paris subway," according to a Taipei Times article by Ho Yi. Cheer is now more popular than ever often playing shows abroad in places like Singapore and Hong Kong, yet she remains a striking fixture in the Taiwan indie scene.