Fri, Mar 20, 2015 - Page 11 News List

Live Wire: Battling music festivals: Megaport vs T-Fest

By David Frazier  /  Contributing reporter

The Megaport festival returns to Kaohsiung on March 28 and 29 after a hiatus last year.

Photo courtesy of Tsuji Music

Last year, there was a lull in the music festival scene, as two of the biggest rock festivals, Formoz and Megaport went on hiatus. Next weekend, there are two large multi-stage music festivals taking place at the same time, Megaport in Kaohsiung and T-Fest in Taipei.

They occur just one week before Spring Scream, Taiwan’s oldest and most famous music festival, with over 100 bands. It is safe to say, every band and DJ on the island worth seeing will be playing somewhere the last weekend of March or the first weekend of April, and audiences and allegiances will be torn.

In Kaohsiung, Megaport will have 84 acts on six stages, including several metal or punk bands from Japan, including Fact, Alexandros and Straightener and the Hong Kong film star and singer Anthony Wong (黃秋生). There will be more than 70 local Taiwanese bands playing, including indie favorites like LTK Commune (濁水溪公社), the Aboriginal singer-songwriter Panai (巴奈), singer Chen Hui-ting (陳惠婷, formerly of Tizzy Bac) and many more, giving the fest a very local vibe.

“The festival will reflect the character of south Taiwan, which is a sort of old-style, macho coolness,” says Freddy Lim (林昶佐), the main organizer, who is also lead singer of the metal band Chthonic (閃靈).

T-Fest, being held for the first time, is organized by The Wall and boasts a highly international lineup. It has 57 acts playing on five stages, including a late-night electronic music dance party stage. The lineup includes more than two dozen international acts, including the Danish shoegaze band Mew, US indie band Cloud Nothings and American techno DJ Gunnar Halsam, among others.

So why are both festivals happening on the same weekend?

Lim says they announced their event dates about a month before T-Fest. “We didn’t want to be so close to Spring Scream,” he says, “but the Kaohsiung government was doing major construction on the event site, so the venue would not have been ready for use in early March, which is the normal time for Megaport. So we had to hold the festival at the end of the month.”

As for T-Fest: “We had decided to do this festival in March quite early on, and since this event is mainly for Taipei, we weren’t so concerned about the overlap,” says Kuma Chen (陳玠安), a spokesperson for The Wall.

“Also, several bands we wanted to book were touring Asia just at this time, so these were just the most convenient dates,” Chen added.

The “T” in T-Fest has multiple meanings — today, tomorrow, Taipei, Taiwan — and has nothing to do with the Taiwanese slang for “lesbian” (“T” is short for “tomboy”).

There are a lot of great bands at both events, though I seriously doubt I’ll be shuttling back and forth on the High Speed Rail to take them all in. My top pick for T-Fest would have to be Turtle Island, which is something like Japan’s answer to the Pogues. Their repertoire draws from Japanese folk songs and they bang with wooden sticks on big, kettle-shaped taiko drums, but they also have mohawks and play with a rowdy punk attitude. Unfortunately, I find T-Fest’s shoegaze headliners fairly boring, but the Japanese post-hardcore group Envy is pretty awesome, and the fest is adding a visual art component to the event, which in theory, sounds interesting.

My “not to be missed” set at Megaport would be LTK Commune, which brings punk attitude to Taiwanese nakashi music and is known to add outrageous stage performances. Flesh Juicer (血肉果汁機) is a young punk band that’s rowdy, loud and fun. The lead singer wears a rubber pig mask, so they are fairly easy to spot. Both are great bands to dance to while spraying Taiwan beer on your friends.

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