Taiwanese festival LUCFest talks going ahead in 2020: “It’s not impossible, just far more complicated”

Festival director Weining Hung tells us about putting on a festival during a difficult year.

Loads of festivals have cancelled or postponed this year due to COVID-19. You don’t need us to tell you that. From the UK, to the US, to Europe, to further afield – restrictions such as gathering size, social distancing, sanitation, travel bans and quarantining have made many an event impossible. 

Not so for Taiwanese music festival LUCFest, though. Still scheduled to run from 27th-29th November in Tainan, Taiwan it’ll showcase over 60 live bands – headlined by indie-pop shoegaze band Sunset Rollercoaster – across seven stages, combined with a three-day networking event, too. 

Festival director Weining Hung tells us more.

Hi there, how are the preparations coming along for this year’s event? What stage are you at now?

Things are going well, considering what’s happening in the world right now. We’re at the final stages of preparation. For festival part, we just finalised the full line-up and are now right in the middle of promoting the festival. We’re also putting in the finishing touches on the production and stage layout. We also have a business convention and conference side to the festival during the day and we’re working to make sure that goes according to plan as we won’t be having any international delegates this year but we will be live streaming the conference, so our international friends can still get involved.

What does a typical day look like for you at the moment?

Ha, that’s a tough question as I do not usually have a typical day. Here’s an example of what I did today:
8:00: Woke up and got myself a strong cup of coffee. It took me about 10min before I could realistically function and started replying to messages and emails.
9:00: Started listening to the few artists I need to write an introduction to for our social media pages. In our team, everyone needs to write about the artists. I am assigned to HuanHuan, a Taiwanese indie/shoegaze band, who just recently released an album. I also listened to Ruby Fatale’s new album, she set me a couple of days ago She’s an amazing new dark pop singer-songwriter.
10:30: Left home and on the way to work, I listened to our newly lanuched Podcast “Kick Jam”, which is the program introduced the emerging Asian artists. I was listening to the episode of “L8ching x Alex”.
11:30: Grabbed a simple bento of Yoshinoya Don Rice, I arrived at Kafka Cafe, where we run 6-week-long music management course for TAICCA
12:30: Our first lecturer , Kate Yeh from “Black Market” arrived and we started to chat and talked about today’s course. Putad from the band “Outlet drift” also came for the course today. She lives in Taitong, the east part of Taiwan. We talked about their newly released album and their plan for the upcoming months. Also we made another appointment for tomorrow dinner to brainstorm more marketing ideas with BaoBao (the founder of Small island big Songs).
13:30: I was browsing the group chats for global music match- a social media campaign we lately joined with 13 music export offices. There are in total 96 artists joined, and divided into 16 groups. We have 5 Taiwanese artists involved, so lots of group chats to check.
14:30: Our second Lecturer for today is Yu Fu Yeh from ROKON arrived. It is a relatively new electronic label under the most influential label in the Chinese pop music world. I have been really looking forward to today’s course.
16:40: After wrapping up, we exchanged few ideas with the coordinator, Shane, at TAICCA. and discussed about the closing party for the program for Oct.7th.
17:30: Kate, KK (my partner), and I decided to just had a simple dinner together. We went to Sara Tai Food, a 40-year-old restaurant in Gongguan. We ordered curry shrimp, rice salad, papaya salad, and a spring roll. Excellent dinner!
18:30: Walked home via Da’an Park. 
19:00: Turned on TV and wanted to watch something about 30 mins short. Anime is the best choice, so I continued B For The Beginning.
20:00: After two episodes, it’s back to email mode. Checked in with Phum Viphurit, a Thai artist I manage about his progress for some collab work. He’s got few ideas and seems pretty confident that he can produce something fun!
22:00: That’s it for me. Lights out after a long day.

It’s exciting that LUCFest is still going ahead despite the pandemic, what measures have you implemented to make sure it can take place?
There have been already few festivals taken place in Taiwan since July. Bottom line is to comply with the government regulations – to wear masks indoors with temperature checks and contact tracing methods in place. We are looking forward to having a full capacity festival with over 10,000 people at the main stage but we do need the audience to play their part as well.

Was there a time when you thought you’d have to cancel?

Oh yes, we didn’t think LUCfest would take place this year. Back in March, while the numbers were climbing steadily from single digits to hundreds, although in Taiwan, the government never even suggested that the bars and clubs needed to be shut down, people just decided not to go themselves. The city was really empty during those few months. We didn’t get our hopes up til May and then after no imported cases for 100 days, we decided to give it a go!

Have the travel restrictions impacted the line-up at all?

Definitely. There are still lots of artists showing strong interest coming from abroad and we just did a thorough research how to get them to Taiwan. In general, a 14 day quarantine and an official business visa is required. Also you will be required to be tested before you arrive. It is not impossible, just far more complicated.

How long do you think live music will be impacted by social distancing?

I think it will get back to normal gradually, maybe country by country. It will take some time to have every country back to normal life. For some countries, it is possible to recover sooner than the rest. But the international touring market will be the last to recover for sure.

How early do you start planning events, are you working on plans for 2021 yet?

Usually we start planning in Feb. The whole operation takes about 10 months. We take about a month to wrap things up after the festival ends and another month to chill out, so we don’t go insane.

LUCFest will take place from 27th-29th November 2020. Visit lucfest.com for more information, and tickets.

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