MUSIC: Jump to it

By Marcus Aurelius  / 

Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 14


How do you get more than 100 bands and DJs, including top-drawer performers such as Wu Bai (伍佰) and China Blue and Van Fan (范逸臣), to play at a two-day festival in central Taipei — for free?

That’s the feat that Brown Chen (布朗) pulled off for this weekend’s Jump Festival (跳起來音樂節) at Huashan Culture Park (華山文化園區).

Armed with a compelling concept but hampered by a meager budget, Chen turned to blogs and social networking sites such as Plurk, Twitter and Facebook to spread the word.

“We didn’t buy a Web domain so our main page is on Wretch. Two months ago we were getting 50 hits per day,” Chen said.

He traveled around the country, met and interviewed bands, many of which he had never heard of, and photographed them jumping in the air. After this content was uploaded to the Web site, interest in the festival erupted.

“A few of the famous bloggers in Taiwan started talking about it,” Chen said. “Now we’ve gotten a total of 200,000 hits so far.”

The buzz reached the big guns, but an inadequate budget remained a problem. Both Chen’s friends’ bands and the bands he didn’t know were playing free of charge. After Wu Bai and China Blue, Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰) and Van Fan spoke with him, they all agreed to waive their fees, energized by the idea behind Jump Festival.

“It’s amazing because all three of them have had their own huge concerts in arenas,” Chen said. “But here, every band is equal. Everyone is open-minded.”

“Wu Bai has been great,” Chen said. “He’s the only one that did his own video because our schedules didn’t match. We’ve asked him to tell people to come and he has. All for free.”

Chen is enamored with the hip-hop lifestyle. He used to frequent the now-defunct Da Project record store on Guangfu South Road (光復南路) and organize freestyle battles in parks through online message boards. In 2005, he grew a full-blown Afro measuring more than 1m in circumference, and released an album with his group DaXiMen (大囍門), their combined efforts leading to the hit Office Lady: “Office lady make me crazy. Office lady u are so sexy. Office lady u are a beauty. Office lady u are my baby.”

At this year’s Spring Scream, Chen once again reinvented himself: long hair, a full back-up band and a boisterous primetime performance featuring a sound reminiscent of Linkin Park. After returning from Kenting and realizing that he was just one performer on a long list of others, Chen decided to gather his friends together and organize a smaller-scale music festival in Taipei.

“First of all, I wanted to perform. Then I had five groups of people who wanted to help. Soon, five more told us not to forget about them. Ten turned into 20 which turned into 50 ... 100 and even 200,” Chen said. “But the problem is that we only have 100 time slots for people to play.”


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