Taipei, are you ready to rock?

Hope you've been doing your neck exercises boys and girls, 'cause there's gonna be some headbangin' this weekend

By David Frazier  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 27, 2001 - Page 7

Taiwan's biggest-ever international music festival opens today at noon in Taipei, kicking off three days of rock, rock and more rock. Modeled after Japan's Fuji Rock and other mega-shows from the US and Europe, the Formoz Festival's lineup calls for big name US bands, including Megadeth, Yo La Tengo and Biohazard, red hot and multimillion-selling Japanese thrash and punk groups, rap metal from Hong Kong and Singapore and a slew of local bands.

Most of Taiwan's 39 representatives at the concert will play today, serving as a warm-up for bigger things to come tomorrow and Sunday. Both days of the weekend will start off fast, featuring major draws early. Opposition Party (反對黨) from Singapore, Anarchy (無政府) and Japan's cute punk trio, Softball, start the action tomorrow, while the groovesters of Milk and one of Japan's best hardcore acts, Garlic Boys, open mid-afternoon on Sunday.

"We met with the organizers of Fuji Rock several times, and they told us that the first band of the day is very important. Strong bands get people in and build the mood early," said Freddy (佛來敵), the 25-year-old head of the Taiwan Rock Alliance, the group putting Formoz together.

Headliners tomorrow include the heavy girlcore of Japan's Yellow Machine Gun, the full body tattoos, rap and speed metal of Brooklyn's Biohazard and the slightly mellower Yo La Tengo. Sunday winds up with the rank Cantonese hip hop and thrash of Hong Kong rockers LMF, Freddy's own black metal ensemble, Chthonic (閃靈) and one of metal's veritable, venerable monsters, Megadeth.

As Taiwan's first-ever festival featuring a number of famous foreign rock bands, Formoz has also brought new organizational problems that few, if any, other concert in Taiwan have ever seen.

"Megadeth needs bodyguards," said Freddy. "I forget exactly how many, but a lot. And they might be bringing some of their own too. Then, the lead singer of Biohazard, Billy, he has his birthday on Saturday. So we have to throw a party. He says he wants it kind of crazy."

According to Freddy, the festival's metal bent stems partially from his own tastes, but mostly from chance. "Originally, we didn't think it would be so much," he said. "We approached around 30 foreign bands to see which gave the best response, and went from there. For a while, we were trying really hard to get Stereolab, but they didn't work out."

Later he added, "if we do it again next year, it will be different."

For this year, however, he's throwing a very heavy rock fest in an eminently suitable location, the Whashang Arts District (華山藝文特區站), a derelict brewery in the heart of once industrial Taipei that now serves as an alternative exhibition and performance space.

Three-day festival passes cost NT$3,500 and allow camping. Tickets for today's show cost NT$500 and cost NT$1,999 tomorrow and Sunday. Attendance will be limited to 8,000 people. Concert-goers are permitted to bring in their own food and drinks. For those who forget to bring their own, beer, water, T-shirts and other rock concert paraphernalia will be on sale at the site.