Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 13 News List

Beach Party

Commercialism and music combined to create a crowded, but fun. Hohaiyan rock festival

By Robert Near  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

All hail the forces of capitalism!

This year's Ho-Hai-Yan Gungliao Rock Festival (貢寮國際海洋音樂祭) had a new organizer: Formosa TV (民視). The change sparked a controversy in the music community, with some saying that the Taipei County government had sold out the festival's initial intentions of promoting young bands and new music. The festival now seemed to be about bringing in as many people as possible, at whatever the cost to creativity. And bring people it did.

What you got, at least on Saturday, were the positives and negatives of a big rock 'n' roll festival. Bigger promotion meant more garbage and advertisements. Dozens of overflowing trash bags were strewn along the beach. Giant D-Link beach balls were cast into the crowd, while Budweiser girls paraded around with almost nothing on.

More promotion also meant more people. "Too many people" said Dennis, a college student who had attended the 2003 Hohaiyan festival. "This year it's been so-so, because now [Hohaiyan] is too famous," he added.

The density of partygoers meant long lines to get anywhere, less room for volleyball games and even less room in the ocean. The focal point was the Fulong (福隆) beach bridge, which was crammed with people all day and all night. Traversing the bridge from the "Shiny Star Stage" (觀星小舞台) to the "Yellow Sand Stage" (黃沙大舞台) was a huge ordeal.

When you finally made it to the main beach, you weren't saved from the onslaught of people, either. An impromptu nightmarket teemed with families, students and partygoers in swimsuits. Drinks were blended, grills crackled, and beach beauties shouted at you to try their concoctions as temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius. The scene was a sensory barrage.

Somewhere in the background, physically and mentally, was the music. A massive stage, featuring state-of-the-art lasers, four gigantic screen walls and a top-notch sound system, attracted thousands of people. During the day, however, "Most people just played volleyball or swam," said Cory, a Canadian kindergarten teacher. Other concertgoers admitted that swimming was just as much of a reason to go to Hohaiyan as the music.

Even at night, when the foreign headliners debuted, many people were resting in the sand. Only a small percentage stood at the front, hooting and hollering to the nu-metal sounds of Japan's Goofy Style. Blame it on the language barrier, the lead singer's "goofy" dreads and pink Aladdin pants, or, even, their outdated grunt rock. People weren't that into it. "It was boring," whined a college student named Sherry, who was making her third trip to Hohaiyan.

The next band, the Assassins (刺客), caused more of a stir. Fans stood up out of their sand traps and welcomed the curiously clad rockers. Their lead singer sported a bandanna, leather jacket and glittery leopard print sashes. The main guitarist, not to be outdone, wore only leather pants. They started off with the classic riff from Metallica's Enter Sandman, and the rest of their power chord-laden set referenced the one-time metal gods.

Cheesy? Outdated? Perhaps, but the crowd lapped it up, laughing at the lead singer's jokes and witty banter. Soon, the crowd was chanting out their hits: I Don't Care Anything and What a F---ing Wonderful World.

The camaraderie that resulted from cramming so many people in one area then became evident. "Oh, I'm having a great time!" exclaimed Eva, a camera woman for Hohaiyan. Hands waved, glowsticks glowed, and throats sang in unison.

This story has been viewed 3414 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top