Chthonic Reveal How They Were Able to Stage a 90,000-Person Festival Amidst the Pandemic
While organizers around the world are studying the ways in which massive live music events can return, that's something that's already happened in Taiwan with the Megaport Festival hosting a crowd of 90,000 over a weekend in late March. So how were they able to pull that off amidst a pandemic? Chthonic's Freddy Lim, founder of the festival and a member of Taiwan's Parliament, explains.
As Lim revealed just prior to the event, part of it had to do with the country's ability to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. "We have been fortunate to have just 1,000 COVID cases in Taiwan’s population of 23 million, with only 77 local cases and 10 COVID-related deaths," said Lim prior to the event. "Because of Taiwan’s efficiency handling the pandemic, we are able to more move forward with this festival. Everyone is excited to perform live again, and our upcoming live album will reflect that excitement.”
Now speaking with Metal Injection, the musician-politician offered more insights on the logistics of how they pulled off such an event. “Before redeeming the entry bracelet, one must complete an online real-name registration process. We required every audience member to wear a mask during the performances. Moreover, they separated the food stands and the eating areas. This was to avoid group transmission after removing the masks,” he explained.
Lim revealed that the country as a whole largely bought in to COVID protocols which allowed for a quicker return. The musician cited citizens for being “self-disciplined and willing to cooperate” and stated that this “shows the high level of democracy in Taiwan’s society.”
“(A pandemic response) is a very complicated and difficult process that needs to be performed in a very short period of time,” he says. “I actually almost couldn’t believe that Taiwan could do it…Many things have changed. People use more digital tools to work and connect, including government departments that have been slow to reform to digital in the past.”
According to Lim, life in Taiwan has mostly been "back to normal since last summer" with people attending movies, baseball games, exhibitions, concerts and more. "Other mass events have followed the same measures (as Megaport) in the last couple of months and the situation has remained well. We weren't too worried," says the singer. "We also know that the pandemic has been very serious in most countries. SO I felt very excited and grateful when I stood on the stage. I cherished the connections between the crowds and me. I also wanted to cheer up the people around the world who watched the show through the live broadcast so much.”
Though Megaport was able to pull off the major concert event, Lim says he realizes touring may not return as easily in other parts of the world. He adds that he's hoping for a return of international touring and festivals "hopefully by the end of this year or early next year.”
“We all know that's what everyone can do now. That is to wear a mask, wash hands frequently and maintain social distancing. But the most important thing is to think about how to prevent similar situations from happening in the future," says Lim. "This means that international organizations like the WHO cannot be manipulated by authoritarian governments like China. Then, they can provide real information and measures to unite human beings around the world.”
Chthonic recorded their Megaport Festival appearance for a live album expected later this year.