/ WOW! STC was there. Here’s the latest on the rock scene in East Asia.

In March, we wrote about the famous 2014 Spring Scream Festival on the island of Taiwan, which is now in its 20th year. Jackie Jack, one of our graphic artists, who is a member of the rock band, Torpid May, was invited to participate in this event, which was held in Kenting National Park. Upon his return, we sat with Jackie to hear and record all the exciting details of this challenging venture.

Jet lag + bullet train = no sleep

Bullet Train - TaiwanAfter flying from New York to Hong Kong and taking a two-hour flight to Taipei, in northern Taiwan, the band jumped on a bus for a 15-minute ride to the Taiwan High Speed Rail station where they boarded the ultramodern, lightning-fast bullet train. “The first day was really intense,” says Jackie. “It was endless travel.”

Barreling along at over 100 miles per hour, the bullet train raced down the entire length of the 215-mile island in two hours and arrived at Kaohsiung, where the band had a one-hour rehearsal. Afterwards, they hired a car service for a two-hour drive to their hotel, which was located near the festival. “After the first day, we didn’t really sleep more than four hours a night for an entire week,” reports Jackie.

Nonstop music + super food = fun times

Torpid May in Taiwan

Photo courtesy of Mondo Wang

The park where the festival was held is 70 square miles. This meant that even with 200 indie bands performing on eight stages — and a huge number of spectators — it never felt crowded. “It was very organized,” says Jackie. “The stages were well-spaced and schedules were posted so every band member knew exactly where they had to be and when.” The 50-minute per band performances started at 12 noon and went on until 11 pm at night. After Torpid May performed to an enthusiastic crowd, Frank Chen, the vocalist exclaimed to the audience. “We never imagined we’d play overseas — we always thought we’d be a local New York band!”

At the festival there was a designated area for those who wished to set up a camping spot for three days. It was also where one could find a number of food stalls that featured delectable dishes. “Taiwanese food is really good,” comments Jackie. “It’s not as commercial as Hong Kong. Families pass down their recipes from one generation to the next so there’s lots of variety.”

Four gigs + eight wings = a hot finish

At the conclusion of the festival, the band performed at two gigs in Taiwan and two in Hong Kong. One in Taipei had the improbable name of “Revolver” while the second in Kaohsiung, known as the “Mercury Bar” had an even more improbable competition. “They have a tradition,” explains Jackie, “if a person finishes eight super-spicy chicken wings (like buffalo wings) in 15 minutes — he gets a free drink. I did okay — got the beer, but it was painful. Afterwards, I put my tongue in a glass of ice water for 20 minutes!”

Like we said, a fiery finish.

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