The Mega Port Festival (大港開場) was held over the weekend of 5-6 March in Kaohsiung. The festival featured a few bands from Japan and the UK and some big name Taiwanese stars in Wu Bai and Jeannie Hsieh. However, it was largely a showcase of Taiwan’s best contemporary indie bands.
Bands played on three stages spread out along the side of the harbour in the Pier 2 Arts District (駁二藝術特區). The close proximity to the Love River and the harbour gave the festival a unique maritime feel.
With more than 40 bands playing over the two days it was impossible to see them all. I selected some of my favourites and also took some time to check out a few new bands that I hadn’t seen before. Among the latter category was Selfkill, pictured above, who played some good post-rock.
There was a great diversity of musical styles in the festival. Every band seemed to attract their own crowd of fans too. The festival was well organised with all the bands playing on schedule and few of the technical problems that often occur at these type of events. Full credit must go to the organisers.
One of my favourite bands is The White Eyes. They played a typically exuberant and entertaining set. Lead singer Gao Xiao Gao always looks like she is having great fun when she performs. The White Eyes are heading to the USA later this month to play at SXSW in Austin, Texas later this month. They will be playing a Taiwan showcase event on 18 March. Some other bands who played at Mega Port will also go to SXSW including Aphasia, Tizzy Bac and Orangegrass.
A highlight of the first day was ChthoniC. They are also heading overseas this month to play some shows in the UK.
Tainan band Solemn played their first show with two new members. Lala from the Eye of Violence was filling in on vocals with her awesome scream. The crowd goes wild for some of the metal bands. I have some video of the circle pit and moshing that I will eventually upload to YouTube. (Update: Video of Solemn now on YouTube and Vimeo.)
The final performance of the festival that I saw was English post-rock band 65daysofstatic. They put on a powerful and polished performance. They barely paused as they shifted from heavy guitar-based instrumental music to percussion, keyboards and sampled tracks.
I didn’t stay to see Wu Bai & China Blue play the finale. Wu Bai is one of the pioneers of live music in Taiwan. He is still hugely popular, too. The Mega Port Festival, with its wide range of bands and musical styles, showed that the trail blazed by Wu Bai has borne much fruit. The next generation is more than ready to take over.
*More photos in the Mega Port Festival 2011 set at flickr (to be uploaded over the next few days).
**Uloud Music released a double CD titled “Mega Pride” featuring many of the bands who played at the festival. The CD is well worth picking up as it provides a good snapshot of Taiwan’s music scene. You can also listen to or download tracks from Indievox.