This year Spring Scream (春天吶喊) is sweet sixteen. The indie music festival has grown up to become an annual pilgrimage for the country’s college students, party-minded expats and music fans.
The event, which begins tonight and takes place at the Oluanpi Lighthouse National Park (鵝鑾鼻燈塔公園), features some of Taiwan’s rising stars and best indie bands, with nearly 200 acts scheduled to perform on seven stages.
Spring Scream Tiger won’t have a headline
act to match last year’s edition, which featured pop-diva A-mei (阿妹), whose gig organizers say attracted over 5,000 people.
But this year’s lineup is one of the festival’s best, says co-founder Jimi Moe, who believes many of the performers are going to be “future stars.”
If past performance is anything to go by, Moe could be right. Some of Taiwan’s biggest pop acts today — Mayday (五月天), Cheer Chen (陳綺貞) and Sodagreen (蘇打綠) — played at the festival before they achieved big-time success.
Spring Scream has come a long way from its DIY roots. Moe and co-founder Wade Davis, both musicians themselves, started the event in 1995 so their band could play for friends and fans at the beach. The event quickly caught on with local musicians and the expat community, and became a platform for the underground music scene.
In the early years, it used to be that any band with a half-decent demo could land a spot at the festival. This is no longer the case as Spring Scream has grown in popularity and is now considered a rite of passage for any aspiring rock ’n’ roll band in Taiwan. Nowadays, an average of 500 performers apply for the 200 stage slots available.
Performers are chosen with the help of a seven-person “panel,” which includes Moe, Davis and friends and acquaintances representing “different musical tastes.” The panel assigns a score to each band.
But the panel is only one part of the process. Another group plays an important role in deciding who performs at Spring Scream: the festivalgoers.
Spring Scream launched an online voting system last year, but Moe and Davis found that Internet-savvy bands could game the system by having their friends cast repeat votes. And since anyone could vote, the votes didn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the people who actually went to Spring Scream, said Moe.
This year the festival only accepted votes from “VIPs” — people who bought advance tickets through the festival’s partner, Indievox (www.indievox.com), a Web site where indie bands create their own profile pages from which to sell music.
All bands applying to play this year had to set up an account on Indievox and post samples of their music. Each VIP voter was allowed to choose and rank 20 of their favorite bands on the Spring Scream Web site, which provided direct links to the Indievox band pages.
“We’re really trying to be democratic,” said Moe, who says the voting system helps Spring Scream realize one of its ideals. “Since the very beginning, we’ve always said that the sponsors are the fans. The fans buy the tickets. And we’ve really tried to empower them and give them some say in the matter of what it is that we’re doing.”
The VIP voters will also be deciding cash prizes for the “most anticipated band.” The band that receives the most votes and the highest rankings gets NT$50,000, with additional prizes of NT$10,000 each going to five runners-up.
This year’s performers include pop-punk band Circus (Circus 樂團), hip-hop group Daximen (大囍門), as well as The Clippers (夾子電動大樂隊), a favorite from past Spring Screams. Several international acts are also scheduled, including South Korean rock and hip-hop band Nevada 51, which performed last year, UK hip-hop group Lazy Habits and French house DJ Hanna Hais.
In addition to live music, there will also be food stalls, games and a film stage run by the Urban Nomad Film Fest.
For tips and travel information for this year’s Spring Scream, see Page 14.
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