Fri, Mar 19, 2010 - Page 13 News List

Port of call

More than 40 indie-rock bands gather in Kaohsiung this weekend for the Megaport Music Festival, an eight-day event that concludes Sunday

By David Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

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For indie-music fans, the usual bands will be playing at this weekend’s Megaport Music Festival 2010 (大港開唱), but in a not-so-usual locale.

The festival, which started last weekend and was organized by Taipei venue The Wall (這牆), takes place at Kaohsiung’s Pier 2 Art District (高雄駁二藝術特區), an area of Kaohsiung Port that has been converted into a public space with three outdoor stages.

Concertgoers get to enjoy harbor-side sea breezes while watching performances by more than 40 acts, including beloved folk-rock artist Deserts Chang

(張懸) and garage rockers The White Eyes (白目樂團). Megaport’s main stage located in a former warehouse will host performances by American group The Secret Machines and pop sensation Sodagreen (蘇打綠).

The festival is a homecoming for musicians in groups like LTK Commune (濁水溪公社), The Peppermints (薄荷葉), Aphasia (阿飛西雅) and The Hindsight (光景消逝), bands that are based in Taipei, but all of which have members who grew up in Kaohsiung.

“Many of these bands feel a strong connection to their hometown,” said The Wall’s Orbis Fu (傅鉛文), who is overseeing the festival. “For everyone involved, this is something that they’ve always wanted to do.”

Fu, who grew up in southern Taiwan but now lives in Taipei, hopes Megaport will provide a boost to the indie-music scene outside of the capital. “The music coming out of Tainan, Kaohsiung and Taichung — this kind of diversity is really important for [Taiwan’s overall] indie-music scene,” he said. “A lot of bands from the south think: ‘We’re from the south, no one knows about us.’ I think this is wrong.”

A few hometown favorites feature prominently at Megaport. Grunge band koOk and pop-punks FireEx (滅火器) played headlining shows last weekend. Indie-rock outfit Orange Doll (橘娃娃) and ska group Shy Kick Apple (害羞踢蘋果) appear this Sunday.

Festival notes

What: Megaport Music Festival 2010(大港開唱)

When: Starts at 6pm tonight and 4pm tomorrow and Sunday

Where: Pier 2 Art District (高雄駁二藝術特區),1 Dayong Rd, Yanjheng Dist, Kaohsiung City(高雄市鹽埕區大勇路1號)

Admission: NT$500 per day or NT$800 for a weekend pass for general access to all outdoor shows. Main Stage shows are NT$600 tonight, NT$800 tomorrow and NT$600 on Sunday. Tickets are available at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks

On the net: www.megaport.com.tw


Fu, who also works as FireEx’s promoter and manager (the group is signed to The Wall’s affiliated label, Uloud Music), said the Kaohsiung band’s growing success offers an encouraging example for local musicians.

“Bands like them will have an effect on other Kaohsiung bands, who will think ‘Yes, I have a chance to make it big. We can be like them, we can be more successful, we can gain the acceptance of a larger audience,” he said.

In addition to Megaport, The Wall has been active in the city for the past year, using the Pier 2 space to hold concerts by bands with widespread followings such as 1976 and Tizzy Bac.

Several notable international acts are also part of this weekend’s lineup: The Secret Machines is a trio that combines electronica with 1970s rock guitar riffs and Led Zeppelin-esque drum beats, and Rebuilding the Rights of Statues (重塑雕像的權利) is a Beijing-based indie-electronica band that gained international attention after an appearance at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The group also caught the ear of renowned electronic musician and composer Brian Eno, who contributed keyboard tracks on the band’s debut EP Cut Off!.

With three other stages, dubbed Star, Dawn and Aurora, Megaport brings to mind another festival organized by The Wall, Taipei’s now defunct Formoz Rock Festival, Taiwan’s equivalent of Japan’s Fuji Rock.

But where Formoz drew in crowds of young revelers and die-hard rock fans, Megaport has attracted “lots of students and even families,” said Spykee Fat, a DJ in the underground scene who is working for The Wall as the festival’s promoter. “[The bands] really like this place because it’s very close to the port and it’s close to Kaohsiung City.”

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