Rock and awe

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am

You can't rightfully claim to have experienced a proper summer unless you attend a music festival. Luckily, Asia has plenty of diverse and top-notch festivals that offer something for music fans of all stripes. Here's a guide to the region's top five music events for this summer.

Spring Scream
April 1-4, Kenting, Taiwan

Taiwan's coolest music festival prides itself on discovering indie talent before it breaks big. For four days on a beach in bikini weather, fans gather to see 200 bands on seven stages play everything from electronica to metal to indie pop. There's a film stage that screens documentaries and music videos, art installations throughout the site, and even a chill-out zone with hammocks. Bands to look out for this year include British hip hop collective Lazy Habits, Taiwanese hip-pop duo DaXiMen, and New York's erhu-fronted prog rock band The Hsu-nami.

Beijing Midi Music Festival
April 31-May 2, Beijing

Given all the jasmine in the air, there's a chance the authorities will again ban Midi this year (as they did in 2008, when the Olympics got in the way). If not, it will retain its mantle atop China's rock festival scene. The festival, which has been held on and off since 2000, will take over Haidan Park for three days, attract tens of thousands of fans and show off many of China's best home-grown rock groups and a handful of international acts. In one of the oddest billing decisions since Rick Astley headlined Singfest in 2008, 1990s rockers Mr Big - yes, the ones who had a pop ballad hit with To Be With You - will be the star attraction. Shanghai will host a similar line-up for its own Midi fest from May 6 to 8 in Pudong Century Park.

Rainforest World Music Festival
July 8-10, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

An extraordinary three-day event held in the rainforest of Borneo, the Rainforest World Music Festival brings together indigenous musicians from around the world for workshops, lectures, jam sessions and big, colourful concerts with Mount Santubong as the backdrop. While you might not recognise the musicians, you can be sure of hearing some fresh new grooves. Each year, about 30,000 world music fans soak up the relaxed atmosphere and the beauty of the environs. There have been problems with overcrowding in the past, so plan well in advance.

Fuji Rock
July 29-31, Naeba Ski Resort, Japan

It'll rain and then the sun will burn holes in your parka. Then it'll rain again. And you'll love every minute. Set high in the mountains at the Naeba ski resort, Fuji Rock is one of the world's great festivals. More than 100,000 people flock there every year to see more than 100 acts perform on 11 stages, with an enchanted forest, an enclosed-car ski lift, and small fields all playing crucial roles in the rock experience. This year Coldplay, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Beach House, Warpaint, The Kills, The Chemical Brothers, and Wilco are among the must-see acts, but the line-up at Fuji - as well as at Summer Sonic (below) - could be affected by the after-effects of the March 11 earthquake.

Summer Sonic
August 13-14, Tokyo and Osaka, Japan

Summer Sonic and Fuji Rock always compete for attention, but they are deliciously different beasts. This two-day festival splits itself between Tokyo and Osaka and is held in giant sports stadiums. It also leans more towards big-selling acts than Fuji - which is not to say it doesn't pack a pretty strong indie punch. This year is going to be as mega as ever, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining alongside The Strokes, while other big names include Death From Above 1979, Primal Scream, much-hyped hip hop kids Odd Future, and the Mars Volta.