First organized in 1995 and having continued consecutively since then, Spring Scream is the oldest festival in Taiwan, and probably even the longest running one in all of Asia. In early April of that fateful year, a handful of underground Taiwanese and expat bands came together on the beaches of Kenting on the southern tip of Taiwan under the leadership of Jimi Moe and Wade Davis of the funky indie band Dribdas sparking a tradition in the Taiwanese indie scene that would reverberate for years to come. Since its inception the location of Spring Scream has bounced around the Kenting area from the beach front to a touristy dude ranch to various parts of the Kenting National Park including the Erluanbi Lighthouse. Ever-expanding in scope and scale, Spring Scream has grown to include indie film screenings, daytime and late night DJ parties, numerous artisan booths and various food stands. However, the bands remain the focus with numerous stages dedicated to a wide array of genres. Every year is a bit different. Taiwanese rock groups that have come to see island wide success in recent years like Chairman, BackQuarter and rock idols Mayday had played the fest when they were simply relegated to "garage band" status. Thus, countless new bands and younger musicians grasping onto a menagerie of styles were inspired to join Spring Scream. And the efforts paid off with a diversification of styles and stages accommodating new trends in the island's underground. For instance, one stage would be dedicated to a specific genre, like in 2004 when the Tainan-based Fullhouse opened for Japanese rockers Greasy Spoon and Taipei rockabilly bands Chicken Rice and Sugar Lady. Several years later, Spring Scream 2007 featured numerous reggae, rock steady and dub influenced acts including High Tide, Skaraoke and Taimaica Soundsystem on a single stage. As the Spring Scream organizers booked more and more well-known indie bands like Mates of State and One Ring Zero, they received headliner spots. However, recently acclaimed Taiwanese artists like Tizzy Bac, Cheer Chen and 88 Guava Seedz, as well as originators like BackQuarter and Chairman have appeared on the festival's main stage. Whatever the case, the festivities are sure to entertain concertgoers and keep them busy with plenty of attractions.
While Spring Scream provides an arena for local Taiwanese and expat bands based on the island to express themselves through song, the event has also become known as a great place to party for bands from overseas as well. When Japanese ska punk freak-out Mimie-Chan arrived on the scene years ago, they were so well received they consecutively came back the the annual spring festival, almost expected by fans and friends. Another band to join the entourage was the New York-based Dynamite Club consisting of avant-garde drummer Mike Pride and Japanese guitarist Kentaro, who could never resist climbing then scaffolding in his tighty whities. Fledgling Beijing-Osaka indie label People's Records tested the Taiwan waters with Spring Scream 2004 and firmly planted their flag on the island's soil making connections to local labels and concert promoters. China-based international space rock band Dirt Star has repeatedly reappeared at Spring Scream time after time, as has Japanese experimental dub group Six o'Minus. And with all these outer influences Spring Scream has remained Taiwan based. Despite torrential rains creating mud-filled moshpits and heavy winds destroying stages, many of Taiwan's bands have had their most memorable live shows at the festival.
All of the above has helped make Spring Scream an integral part of Taiwan music history and an essential experience for anyone interested in the Taiwanese indie scene. However, over the years countless other concert promoters have taken advantage of the popularity of the original festival and various raves and concerts have cropped up in Kenting over the first weekend in April. Consequently, the main drag of the tourist town has come to look like spring break in Fort Lauderdale and many islanders not familiar with the indie music scene tend to lump everything together. So before you head down, make sure because there is only one Spring Scream.