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How CHTHONIC Played A 90,000 Person Festival During A Pandemic

Taiwanese symphonic metallers Chthonic played Megaport Festival in front of twenty thousand people last month. Megaport, which had 90 000 attendees total, marks the return of major rock festivals after a year of no shows. Frontman Freddy Lim, who is also a Taiwanese legislator, spoke to Metal Injection about how Chthonic were able to pull off this concert during a pandemic.

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“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 seperated the food stands and the eating areas. This was to avoid group transmission after removing the masks.”

Not so bad. Freddy elaborated further on the pandemic situation that made Megaport possible. “Life in Taiwan has been back to normal since last summer,” he says. “People could go to the movies, baseball games, exhibitions, concerts, traditional festivals etc. 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…But 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.”

Taiwan has weathered Covid-19 better than any other country. The island nation of 23 million has only seen 1100 cases and 12 deaths. Freddy Lim says that his fellow Taiwanese citizens have been “self-disciplined and willing to cooperate” and 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.”

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Chthonic’s Megaport concert was recorded for a live album that will be released in late 2021. It features a guest appearance by Audrey Tang, the Digital Minister of Taiwan’s cabinet. Tang performs a “brain controlling voice” on reworks of Chthonic classics “Oceanquake” and “Set Fire To The Island”. Freddy says Audrey is a close friend who shared the stage with Chthonic before both of them were elected. He describes sharing the stage with another politician as “quite an epic moment."

The festival lineup contained over 100 Taiwanese artists, including metal acts Flesh Juicer, Beyond Cure, Fact and Crescent Lament. “Over the past year… more Taiwanese have paid attention to Taiwan’s local culture and activities,” says Freddy. “Although this is a good phenomenon, international exchanges make culture more diverse and rich. Therefore, I still look forward to the return of activities around the world to normal as soon as possible, when connections between people from different parts of the world can be more powerful.”

Despite this, Freddy understands that Taiwan’s position is unique. He predicts that international touring and festivals like Megaport will not appear in the rest of the world until “hopefully by the end of this year or early next year.” Freddy says that the struggle to beat the pandemic is a collective one that every person must play a part in.

“We all know that 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. 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.”

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