Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's politics. As a rock and roll writer, I wouldn't know much about either of those, but what I do know is that Taiwan's Formoz Festival is canceled for 2009 and Korea's Pentaport Rock Festival has scaled back majorly on headliners, from Franz Ferdinand, the Strokes and Placibo last year to (get ready to Wikipedia) the Deftones, Lenka and Eskimo Joe (yes, those are international bands.) In recent years, both fests were held on the same weekend as Fujirock and sponged off some of the headliners. Things have changed big time.
Taiwan's Formoz started in 1995 under a different name, began bringing big international acts in 2001 (Yo La Tengo, Biohazard, Megadeth), and began cooperating with SMASH, Japan, the company behind FRF, a couple years later, over the years bringing Moby, Super Furry Animals, Mercury Rev and other bands to Taiwan.
Just before kicking off last summer, Formoz rather mysteriously announced that the festival was too much work for what their small staff and the economics of the festival could support, so they were canceling it once the 2008 event was over. The group behind Formoz also runs Taipei's top live house (The Wall), an indie band management company (ULoud Music), and promotes some of its own shows. Organizers said they would still be involved in bringing international acts, but not as a festival, so their story went. There is however widespread speculation that Formoz's demise also had something to do with Taiwan's 2008 presidential election. The political party with heavy links to Formoz organizers -- one year Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian plugged the event at a press conference and even sat on stage to watch Japanese visual rockers Sex Machinegun -- lost the presidency. And where there are political friends, there is money. Formoz organizers have repeatedly denied this, but few are convinced.
In Korea, Pentaport was a big deal from its inaugural year of 2006, when it was already sharing artists with SMASH, Jp. According to the Korea Herald, the festival was a collaboration between two promoters, and apparently things have gone sour between them. The promoter with the SMASH, Jp. connect has now split off to start up the Jisan Valley Rock Festival. FRF09 headliners Oasis and Weezer will be there. Pentaport will also go ahead on the same July 24-26 weekend. All I can say about that is, I'd rather be in Naeba.