After the lifting of martial law in 1987, Taiwan was finally ready for an original new music scene of its own. However, many live house pubs continued to feature mostly cover bands and radio waves were ruled by mandarin pop idols. LTK Commune broke out in 1989 in reaction to this ineffectual switch from authoritarian rule over to blind consumerism and ended up frustrating venue managers, confusing critics and sparking a punk scene. Named after a river known in Taiwanese as Loh Tsui Kweh, the band calls to mind a certain dedication to their native island, and indeed they got their start playing at labor rallies and student movement gatherings. LTK's sound was a frenetic take on nakasi, a rustic working class folk style of music, through the lens of the punk, new wave and alternative rock emerging out of the west. This unique, abrasive and wildly humorous approach landed LTK Commune deals with local labels like the premier Taiwan major label Crystal records and the more folk-oriented Taiwan Colors Music. To critics and reviewers, their songs are cryptic messages with political agendas hidden in humorous caricatures of daily life often offering shocking glimpses into the minds of young blue collar men. Disregarding any interpretation, the absurdism of LTK occasionally seeped off-stage and into real life when two of the members, Hsiao-ko and Tsai, were expelled for digging up bones from a graveyard and assembled a skeleton in the dean's office! Endearing themselves to the wave of local taike punks that peaked in the early 2000's, LTK received a tribute album featuring bands such as 88 Guava Seedz, Semi-con, B.B. Bomb and of course, Children Sucker who have modeled themselves most after this wild homegrown favorite.
While LTK Commune began playing at student rallies exercising newly acquired freedoms of speech and expression, they used this platform to engage the audience with black comedy and absurd performance art rather than straightforward political rhetoric. Their early shows often involved some costumed theme with cynical and irreverent reflections on class disparity which the audiences responded by joining the chaos. Over the years, LTK became Spring Scream staples, then regularly appeared at TRA organized festivals like Formoz and the Say Yes to Taiwan series. The band has toned down somewhat as they lost most of their original lineup, however, remaining songwriter and vocalist Hsiao-ko still manages to inspire young punks to destruction. Preceding their fourth release in 2005, the band's Spring Scream performance consisted of a some kind of effigy rigged with fireworks. At Hsiao-ko's orders the punks rushed the stage and started beating it, tearing it apart as bottle rockets whizzed everywhere. Some people may have seen the wired and perversely funny LTK videos circulating the net, I would recommend experiencing the band first hand as well.