Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 15 News List

FTV wins the battle of the rock festivals

By Ron Brownlow  /  STAFF REPORTER

Music lovers and performers have made the Hohaiyan festival a popular event. This year, instead of battle of the bands, it's battle of the festival organizers.


An independent record label's bid to stage an alternative Hohaiyan rock festival ended this week, after Typhoon Bilis prompted a schedule conflict with the official event.

Taiwan Colors Music (TCM, 角頭音樂) had organized the annual summer alt/indie rock festival on Fulong beach in Taipei County for the last six years, growing it into Taiwan's largest rock ‘n’ roll event. But this year Formosa TV (FTV, 民視) was chosen to run the show, which it had originally scheduled for this weekend.

Saying he had an obligation to music fans, Chang Yi-ping (張議平), popularly known as Chang43 (張43) planned a competing festival for the same venue. It was to be held next weekend. But on Wednesday, FTV postponed the official Hohaiyan festival, forcing TCM to cancel theirs.

“My feelings are very complicated right now,” Chang said through a spokesman shortly after making his decision. “I don't have the time to think about the emotional side of this because there are so many things to deal with right now.”

As of press time, FTV's “Ho-Hai-Yan Gongliao Rock Festival”(貢寮國際海洋音樂祭) was tentatively rescheduled for next weekend. Notable acts are to include old-school Chinese heavy metal band Black Panther (黑豹樂隊).

Check for the official Chinese-language program. International bands scheduled to perform in TCM's festival — including Japan's Dragon Ash and Miyavi, and Cuijian (崔健), the “grandfather of Chinese rock” — may or may not take part.

“We have suggested that they let the foreign bands play in their festival,” a TCM spokesman said on Wednesday. “But we have not received a response.”

In losing control of Hohaiyan, Chang and TCM, it seems, fell victim to their own success.

Unlike the organizers of Spring Scream, who are content to draw five-digit crowds to their annual party in Kenting, Chang and his indie record label aimed higher. Two years ago their annual Hohaiyan rock festival became Taiwan's largest, drawing a reported 100,000 fans, or 270,000 by Chang's estimate, to the sleepy seaside town of Fulong. Hohaiyan, with its battle of the bands, was hailed as the country's answer to Japan's Fuji Rock Festival.

That attracted interest from larger and larger companies. Two months ago, Taipei County and Gongliao Township officials rejected TCM's bid to host this year's event and handed the responsibility, along with millions of NT dollars in public money, to Formosa TV.

Undaunted, Chang prepared to run an independent festival. He signed on a record number of bands and set about raising money from sponsors.

“The Ho-Hai-Yan festival has become a dream for all upcoming bands,”he explained Tuesday in an interview at TCM's offices, when it looked like his festival would still go ahead. “It's their dream, and it's our dream too.”

The battle of the bands was turning into the battle of the band organizers.

TCM' “Hohaiyan People's Rock Festival” (海洋人民音樂祭), which Chang had been planning for a year, was to feature 233 bands, including 13 from overseas. FTV copied TCM's format and signed on past Hohaiyan acts, such as Back Quarter (四分衛) and the Chairman (董事長), for its festival.

But the weather had other plans. Just in case, FTV had booked Fulong Beach through July 25. Chang was told he could use the venue when FTV no longer needed it.

On Tuesday, Formosa TV and officials representing Taipei County and Gongliao Township, where Fulong is located, announced that their festival would run as scheduled this weekend. But on Wednesday, Typhoon Bilis turned towards the island, and FTV changed the dates on its Web site to next weekend. TCM announced later that its festival was canceled. According to Chinese-language media, FTV sustained a financial loss of NT$5 million as a result of having to reschedule, while the cancelation cost TCM NT$4.5 million.

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