A decade ago, while walking back from Kenting to Liufu Ranch, where Spring Scream was being held, several Westerners in a blue truck offered me a ride.
The scruffy looking young guys in the back were so friendly, I divulged how they could sneak into the festival through a gap in the bushes to see some of the 80 or so bands that were playing.
“Where exactly was that gap?” asked one, leaning forward with a grin, which elicited greater detail. Later, two of the men turned out to be Wade Davis and Jimi Moe, the founding fathers of Spring Scream.
The duo have been organizing the festival since it’s humble beginnings on a beach with a handful of bands in 1995. Now held at the sprawling Oluanpi Lighthouse National Park (鵝鑾鼻燈塔公園), it has grown to nearly 200 bands on six stages, with additional stages for the Urban Nomad Film Festival, DJs and alternative acts. Add to that stalls, food vendors, art exhibits, camping, security ... and a monster of an organizational challenge.
In the beginning, bands would drop off a demo tape and fill out a one-page form. Now with over 600 applicants, the process has become “frustrating,” says a very busy Moe. During an interview in Taipei that was delayed by two hours because of his schedule, Moe fielded multiple calls, responded to
e-mail messages on his iPhone, and managed to cram a falafel wrap in his mouth in about three bites — at 10pm, it was the first thing he’d eaten all day.
“You know how when you take those B12 vitamins for stress your pee turns yellow because your body can’t use them all? My pee doesn’t turn yellow anymore,” he said.
This year the organizers tried a new approach: backstage-pass style tickets with photos on them, which Moe said are a Glastonbury-inspired “souvenir of the show” (but would also deter people from sneaking in), and a Web site voting system to pick bands. “We really want bands to promote themselves,” said Moe. “If they ask people to vote for them, people are looking at their band, maybe looking at other bands.”
The system is two-tiered, with voting open to anyone, but greater weight given to VIP voters — those who have bought tickets. “From an organizer’s point of view, that’s all I care about,” said Moe. He wants attendees to be able to watch the bands they want to see: “The goal was to make getting to know the bands easy and fun.”
The new festival Web site “has so much promise,” said Moe, who is optimistic about developing it for next year’s Spring Scream. He is “extremely, extremely apologetic” about delays in getting back to bands and vendors this year. “We vowed we would do a better job of communicating,” he said. “The volume of what we’re dealing with is our number one obstacle. We feel tragic as a personal and friendship thing and as a business thing ... there are only so many hours in a day.”
He and Davis both teach as well and tackle almost every aspect of organizing the festival on their own, from listening to demos to sending out
e-mails. Plans to try to “get back to what it was originally about, being able to make new friends with the stall people and bands” have been thwarted by time-consuming work with the Web site. “We feel like we’re letting people down,” he said, citing translation and programming issues as the causes of major delays.
The registration process was arduous for some bands: the site required not only three demo songs, but group photos of the band, a logo, a