Mon, Aug 04, 2014 - Page 3 News List

KAOHSIUNG DISASTER: FEATURE: Mayday give relief fund NT$15m, bid fans to follow suit

By Jason Pan  /  Staff writer

Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, third right, holds up a bunch of bananas along with the band Mayday on a stage in Greater Kaohsiung on June 5 last year.

Photo: Wang Jung-hsiang, Taipei Times

The band Mayday (五月天) has served as Greater Kaohsiung’s ambassador in its tourism campaign for four years, so it came as no surprise when, in the aftermath of the gas explosions that rocked the municipality last week, the group was among the first to make a donation to the disaster relief account set up by the Greater Kaohsiung City Government’s Social Affairs Bureau.

The band gave NT$15 million (US$500,000) to the fund, with each of its five members pitching in NT$1 million and another NT$10 million donated from the proceeds of its “Just Love It” tour on behalf of its fans.

Mayday’s ties to Greater Kaohsiung go back a long way. Bass guitarist Tsai Shen-yen (蔡昇晏), known to fans as Masa, went to school there as a child, while lead guitarist Shi Chin-ang (石錦航), known as Stone, proposed to his wife in the city.

The band has staged dozens of concerts in the port city and its members frequently chat about things happening in Greater Kaohsiung on social media sites.

Mayday began acting as the “global spokesperson” for the city’s tourism campaign in July 2011, appearing in promotional videos and giving the local government the right to produce calendars featuring pictures of band members.

A poster of the band inviting people from other countries to visit Taiwan can be seen in places such as New York and Mayday also took a trip to Shanghai and Beijing to promote Greater Kaohsiung-grown fruit and other agricultural products.

In July 2012, Mayday announced that it would act as the city’s ambassador for free for the rest of the year. The group said that this was its way of thanking the enthusiastic support and passion that the Greater Kaohsiung public has shown the band.

The band members renewed the contract last year.

Mayday has also headlined the city’s New Year’s Eve events for the past few years. During these concerts, the band would talk about local events and strike up conversation with fans, interactions which it says have built an enduring friendship and emotional bond with local fans and residents.

Mayday also says it has forged a special relationship with Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊). At the city’s most recent New Year’s Eve event, held at the Kaohsiung World Games Stadium, Chen visited the band backstage before its concert.

While there, Chen relayed to the band members many fans’ wishes for them to play past midnight and continue the show into the morning hours.

The band members said they worried about receiving fines, since municipal bylaws lay out restrictions on noise and concerts at late hours, to which Chen responded with a laugh: “It is OK by me. I’m the mayor. If you get fined, I will pay the bill.”

At a recent pre-concert publicity event Chen attended to show her support for the band, Masa gave her a bikini and thong slippers as a gift on behalf of the band.

“If more than 50,000 fans attend the concert, I will wear the slippers on stage. If a crowd of more than 100,000 comes, then I will consider wearing the bikini,” the mayor said to laughter from the audience.

Mayday lead vocalist Chen Hsin-hung (陳信宏), known as Ashin, has said that “I am already a half-Greater Kaohsiung native (半個高雄人)” and often writes about the city, inviting people to visit it to experience its various scenic attractions, cuisine, cultural heritage, arts and religious diversity.

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