Identity Crisis in Chengdu, 1991; photo by Xiao Quan
Photos of Identity Crisis
Established in 1990 by American and European expatriates living in Tainan, Taiwan, Identity Crisis was a bold musical experiment and a pioneer in introducing various creative music genres to Asian audiences. The band produced an original body of work encompassing progressive rock, jazz, traditional Chinese music, experimental soundscapes, and more. Band members included Dennis Rea (guitar, vocals), Andreas Vath (bass), Tom Vest (drums), Bryce Whitwam (keyboards), Volker Wiedersheim (keyboards), Tsao Hsin (drums), Luo Rende (bass), Frederic Eymard (viola), Mark DeForge (bass), and Matthew Corbin Clark (vocals).
While Identity Crisis' repertoire was largely original, the band also covered tunes by such diverse artists as Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Scofield, Cui Jian, and Television. In winter 1990-91 Identity Crisis played about 30 shows in Taiwan at venues ranging from pubs to universities to municipal cultural centers. In April 1991 the band undertook a month-long underground tour of China, performing roughly 10 shows in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou, sometimes to audiences numbering in the thousands. This was one of the earliest non-government-sponsored concert tours of China by Western musicians. Tour highlights included a memorable performance in Beijing with Chinese rock godfather Cui Jian, as well as public and private collaborations with other notable Chinese rock pioneers such as Liang Heping, He Yong, Cobra, ADO, and Hei Bao ("Black Panther"). The band also performed a concert that was broadcast throughout Sichuan Province by Chengdu TV. While in Chengdu, Identity Crisis recorded an album for the China Record Company with producer Yang Shichun, but its release was blocked by company officials in Beijing who objected to Yang's unauthorized production of a foreign band.
Upon returning to Tainan, the members of Identity Crisis found that interest in the band had greatly increased as a result of their association with Cui Jian and their successful China tour. Invitations began pouring in to play at pubs, festivals, and cultural centers. During this period the band had a weekly residency at the now-defunct Feelmore Jazz Pub in Taipei and recorded an unreleased album for Taiwan's Crystal Records. Around this time Tom Vest returned to the U.S. and was replaced by Tainan native "Spike" Tsao Hsin. A Taiwanese government crackdown on expatriate musicians in early 1992 caused Identity Crisis to dissolve, but various band members went on to tour China and Taiwan with a variety of other original groups in later years.
In April 2008 Identity Crisis core members Rea, Vath, Vest, Wiedersheim, and Whitwam reunited in Taiwan for their first performances in 16 years, including concerts at the historic Chih Kan Tower and the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center. Rea, Vath, Wiedersheim, and Seattle drummer Olli Klomp continue to work together occasionally as Ting Bu Dong.
The band's exploits are recounted in detail in Dennis Rea's book Live at the Forbidden City: Musical Encounters in China and Taiwan.
Sichuan Youth Newspaper: Identity Crisis in Chengdu: Music Makes It All Come True
Identity Crisis with Cui Jian: "Yi Wu Suo You,"
Maxim's, Beijing, April 1991
Identity Crisis: "Would," Anping, Taiwan 2007