Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 17 News List

'Rock's not dead, roll's not down'

Taipei's Yuanshan Park is the place to be this weekend when Formoz Festival hosts a big bands extravaganza

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRA

The second of this summer's weekend-long music festivals starts tonight in Taipei with the opening bands at this year's Formoz Festival (野台開唱) in Yuanshan Park (圓山公園).

The three days of musical mayhem, which have been organized by the Taiwan Rock Alliance (TRA) since 2001 (and under different guises since 1995) were originally dubbed "Rock's not Dead, Roll's not Down" (搖 死滾 倒).

The inaugural festival was held next to the main gates of National Taiwan University. It attracted fewer than 20 acts and was attended by more curious onlookers than hardcore music fans.

Attracting an average of 35 local acts each year from between 1996 to 2000, the event finally came of age in 2001, when the festival featured over 100 bands and international acts of note participated for the first time. Since the 2001 festival the event has gone from strength to strength and now attracts in the region of 40,000 revelers over a period of three days.

Previously, a predominantly indie/alternative and metal/punk oriented affair, the line-up for Formoz 2004 features a good cross-section of musical genres and styles. Be it Taiwanese mainstream pop, Japanese black metal, Mando/Canto hip-hop, electronica or Western indie pop and post rock, this year's festival has a bit of everything.

For the first time, well-known mainstream acts like Taiwan's Bobby Chen (陳昇) and South Korea's Mr. Funky will be sharing stage time with more raucous acts, including sardonic politico-punksters, LTK (濁水溪), award-winning black-metal mavericks Chthonic (閃靈) and Japanese glam rockers Sex Machineguns.

`fun for everyone'

Over 100 bands are slated to perform during the three-day event, which will see local pop, punk, metal, rap, folk and rock acts sharing stages with 20 international acts (though these are largely from Japan).

"We chose the bands not because we personally like them or think they are good, but on the basis of what they can offer the audience," said Freddy Lin (林旭佐), head of TRA. "We looked at originality rather than style or genre and have come up with a very mixed and, I hope, well balanced line-up. We want it to be fun for everyone."

While the action will once again be taking place simultaneously on four stages -- Fire, Mountain, Wind and Wood -- unlike previous years, none of the individual stages are geared towards one particular brand or genre of music. Organizers have also eliminated the main stage this year and, according to Lin, all the stages will, at some time or another this weekend, boast an all-star crowd-pulling roster.

"We decided to get rid of the `main stage' concept because we wanted to make it more like Fuji Rock, where the audience chooses its own stage rather than the [organizers] choosing it for them," Lin said. "It will be more fun and audiences will be more independent in the sense that we're not telling them about or giving them a `top act' to go and see. We want the audience to feel like it's their festival not ours."

Along with these slight alterations to the festival's format, TRA has also reorganized performance times. Whereas previous Formoz Festivals were traditionally afternoon to early evening affairs, this year's event will see bands taking to their respective stages at 5pm and continuing through the evening until 1am to 2am -- or, as in the case with the electronica stage, going all night long.

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