Taiwan’s annual Urban Nomad Freakout festival is synonymous with international acts and weirdness, and it's easy to imagine the intrepid organizers could handle anything thrown at them. But the pandemic restrictions put the kibosh on the regular spring three-day festival this year. David Frazier and Marcus Aurelius, ever-resolved to throw a damn good party, moved the event to this fall. Despite the border controls still in place, there is plenty of new music to discover at this whirlwind 15-hour concert.

The Urban Nomad Fall Freakout kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 3, and runs right through until five the following morning when revelers can meander down from the mountain to catch the first MRT. Expect live bands of all persuasions including indie bands, punk, shoegaze, surf rock, prog rock, art rock/urban folk ska and afrobeats, and DJs playing everything from 70s Taiwan hits to techno, circus acts, fortune telling and haircuts, vendors selling art, handmade clothing and jewelry, plus no shortage of refreshments.

Fortunately, Taiwan’s local scene has much to offer in terms of the weird and the wonderful. Band highlights include Paige Su and the Flying Monkeys, playing at 5:30 p.m. on the main stage, with Su using her electronic harp “to figure out how to make this into a cool indie rock vibe,” explains Frazier. “It’s more artistic, pushing different boundaries than people are used to seeing or expecting.”


Photo Credit: Urban Nomad

DJs take over the Temple stage late into the night.

Another act to watch out for is the last band of the evening, Pass the Vibe, set to play the Temple stage at 11:30 p.m. Pass the Vibe is a loose collection of artists led by U.S.-Taiwanese producer Will Peng, who Frazier describes as “super talented.” Frazier adds that Pass the Vibe is Peng’s “passion party project bringing a really interesting eclectic group of 13 musicians to the Temple stage.” While Pass the Vibe has been an event running for the past 18 months or so, this is its debut as a collective act, with a line-up that includes Dallas Waldo, the Canadian-born Taiwan MC.

There’s even a verifiable U.S. act in the form of Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter Chance Emerson — who returned to Taiwan this summer — and has joined the line-up last minute, slotting in as the opening act on the Temple stage for his first Taiwan gig. Despite having just turned 20, Emerson released his first album this spring and already has a Spotify following of over 28,000 monthly listeners. According to Frazier, his appearance in the line-up has caused quite a stir on Taiwanese social media. It’s easy to see why with his upbeat songs having already drawn a couple of comparisons to Paul Simon in U.S. music media.

While this is only a one-day event, over 100 musicians are performing as members of bands and as DJs. “We wanted to get as many bands in as possible so there are bands in the temple until midnight and extended DJ slots until 5 a.m.,” says Frazier. “Once you have a few afrobeats and ska groups playing, the numbers soon add up.”

There are mainstays and underground acts of the local scene playing as well. Afrobeat 13-piece band Island Futurism will take the main stage at 6:30 p.m., and Skaraoke will be headlining the main stage just after 9 p.m., bringing their energetic ska set that is sure to get the crowd jumping. The gloriously funky Balkazar will be blending traditional Balkan music with rock reggae, funk, and ska on the Temple stage at 10:30 p.m. following on from alternative indie hip-hop group Yellow Hippy (黃嬉皮) at 9:30 p.m.

Keeping with past Urban Nomad Freakouts, the organizers have put together a line-up that works for all walks of life, with the afternoon and early evening acts suitable for families and then switching into a party scene later on.

An example of this is the new Jungle DJ stage which, Aurelius says, “starts with vinyl… morphs into reggae and afrobeats, and then goes house and techno till the sun starts to come up.”

One new DJ on the block to look out for is DJ Bootleg Oh Yeah spinning pirated records from the heyday of Taiwan's 70s and 80s disco scene blended with Japanese and Hong Kong pop hits at 4:15 p.m. on the Jungle stage.


Photo Credit: Urban Nomad

A fire dancer performs on the Circus stage at Urban Nomad 2018.

The Circus stage is one thing that sets Urban Nomad apart from other festivals. This time around there aren’t any aerial dancers, though Aurelius says, “We stay lower to the ground but talent has skyrocketed with Charlie Circus Twister, who does this crazy bike show, and Cutty Tooth and his merry band of pranksters, as well as a ton of fire dancers that are ready to amaze.”

Frazier adds that Cutty Tooth, scheduled for later in the evening, even shoot fireworks out of their heads.

If you haven’t attended an Urban Nomad Festival before, this might all sound a bit hectic. But the chaos is part of the experience. Aurelius says, “What we’ve tried to do is take all the different kinds of things we love and smoosh them all into one gigantic party in the mountains with the only rule being the weirder and crazier the better. Controlled chaos is what the Fall Freakout is all about.”

Onsite Refreshments

Food is always a big attraction at the festival and Fall Freakout will see a range of treats on offer. Whether you’re looking for western or local food or fusion, vegetarian or meat-based, the organizers have you covered with falafels from Falafel King, fusion baos from festival pop-up Guga’s, Pizza Monster and Taiwanese classic beef noodles. Festival regular Baby Juice will also be serving healthy smoothies and specialty coffees. This year, food will be available until late since the party runs to 5 a.m.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll cocktail bar will be serving up a range of reasonably priced innovative and classic cocktails (NT$150/NT$200), including the imaginatively named Cardi B, Walk on the Wild Side and Ziggy Stardust. The other bars will be serving up regular lager at NT$150/pint and IPA. Dark lagers, radlers, and ciders will also be available.

Tips and Tricks

The venue is family friendly; the site is easy to navigate and there are proper bathrooms. Entry is free for children under 12.

Pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

The weather forecast is looking good for Saturday but having a convenience store raincoat in your back pocket never harms — although there is plenty of cover onsite.

Given the location in a mountain valley, bug spray is recommended, as is a jacket or shawl for when the temperature cools off in the evening.

Comfortable footwear is recommended. It’s an outdoor venue and you’re likely to be dancing. The Urban Nomad festivals often see people dress up Burning Man style though, so feel free to express yourselves as you are inclined.

Save a little cash: advance tickets can be purchased online or by using the famiport at Family Mart until 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

The venue can be a little hard to find for first timers, however searching for Miculture Tiger Mountain on a smartphone pulls up the correct location.


Event Details

Urban Nomad Fall Freakout | Saturday October 3, 2 p.m.- Sunday 5 a.m.

Entrance: Advance tickets are NT$899 / Door: NT$1200

Free entry for children under 12. Under-18’s must be accompanied by an adult.

NOTE: Due to Central Epidemic Command Center Covid-19 prevention rules all attendees must present ID and provide a contact address and phone number (minors included).

Address: 微遠虎⼭ 台北市信義區福德街221巷186-1號 | Tiger Mountain, No 186-1, Lane 221, Fude St, Xinyi District, Taipei

Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/5s9S4wBpEiVUDS4v5

Nearest MRT: Xiangshan 象山站 (last stop on the Red Line), Houshanpi Station 後山埤站 (Blue Line)

READ NEXT: Beyond the Michelin Guide: What Is Real Taiwanese Gourmet?

TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more story updates in your news feed, please be sure to follow our Facebook.