Last week Live Wire questioned how Taiwanese youth are affording ticket prices of NT$1,500 to NT$2,500 to see live bands play single shows in Taipei. This week the question is, with 220 bands and 60 DJs over five days at Spring Scream for NT$2,400, how could you afford not to go? That’s less than NT$10 an act!
Of course, money is not the issue when it comes to this veteran of music festivals in Taiwan. Now in it’s 19th year, Spring Scream is more than a chance to see live bands and DJs from around the island, and international acts from America, Canada, France, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. It’s a once a year opportunity to let your hair down, reunite with friends from all over Taiwan, camp, eat, drink, dance, make art, make out and participate in something that we helped to become what it is.
Every live music fan, artist, musician, writer, and dreamer who supported this festival helped it grow from a handful of bands on a beach into an event that has been up to 10 days long some years and will hit it’s 20th anniversary next year.
“Come early, stay late, relax, chill out, rock out and try to see as many bands as you can,” said co-founder Wade Davis in a rare interview this week. The sometimes-reticent musician saves the outgoing part of his nature for his friends and his three bands: .22, Aurora, and Dr. Reniculous Lipz and the Skallyunz, leaving press interviews to partner Jimi Moe. “I’m the shy one,” he said.
Davis is excited that the festival falls on a longer holiday this year: “We started because of a four-day-weekend,” he said. “Over the 19 years, some years it’s been only a weekend, but this time we’re having it over five days, so everybody can let go and people don’t have to take time off work — so more bands can come, people can chill out for longer. I hope people can come for the whole thing and just leave the city behind.”
The event will start Wednesday night with a pre-party in the campground where two band stages, a DJ stage, and a Skype-stage called the Bandwidth stage will be set up to pump in live feeds of musicians playing concerts around the world during the festival.
It will continue with bigger-name bands Thursday to Saturday on four more stages in the main park and will finish with the favorite part for long-timers, the “mellow, eclectic Sunday,” as Davis called it.
I asked him why he thinks the event has been so successful. “Well, Jimi and I became musicians in Taiwan,” he said. “Our passion lies in the music, bands, friends — our lives revolve around music and community, and a passion for the outdoors and a beautiful environment. That combination can’t really go wrong.”
Much of the festival ends up being centered in the campground adjacent to the park, where vendors and artists set up among the campers. “There are great stalls this year,” said Davis. “Great merchandise, good food, good bars — Indian, Mexican, Aboriginal. We support them and they support us by feeding people with interesting food instead of generic night market food.”
In terms of visiting musicians, Davis is particularly excited to see Vialka from France, returning for their fourth year at the festival. “They put on an awesome show,” he said. “They always blow people away.” This year they are bringing an eco-soundman who Davis and Moe will provide with an old car stereo, batteries and solar panels. “He’s got a set up to make a portable sound system and will be able to explain how it’s set up — like a mobile workshop on solar sound systems,” Davis said.