SINGAPORE - Spring looks different this year.
Instead of a convivial festival atmosphere with music fans sprawled out on the grass, last Saturday's 2014 Spring Wave Music and Art Festival felt more like a regular concert with assigned seating in plastic lawn chairs.
Given the identity crisis over whether this was a sit-down concert or a do-as-you-please festival, crowd control at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay, was a bit messy.
While there were those who preferred allocated seating as it was more organised, the situation was unacceptable for some who bought top-tier tickets at $218 each.
At one point during Jam Hsiao's set, one could hear security personnel shouting for fans to return to their seats and some disgruntled people yelling for others to sit down and not block the view.
Analyst Lawrence Lim, 31, said: "I understand they have to do their job and keep the crowd under control, but it's still ridiculous. They were also very rude in handling the situation."
An unhappy relationship manager Jo Chieng, 30, said: "I was not expecting this because, usually, we can stand and dance at concerts, and that is what a concert should be like. When I attended concerts in Taiwan, there were people who stood on their seats and nobody bothered them."
Despite the rough patches, Taiwan-based artists - diva A-mei, crowd-pleaser Hsiao and belter Della Ding Dang - put on energetic sets and lived up to their billing as the top headliners. The main line-up also included starlet Yao Yao and Korea-born Taiwan-based Bii.
Spring Wave, an established annual music event in Taiwan, landed on Singapore shores for the first time last year and featured indie queen Cheer Chen, rocker Wu Bai, smoky-voiced Joanna Wang, pop-rocker Chang Chen-yue, home-grown singer Olivia Ong and Hsiao. It attracted a crowd of 5,000, according to the organiser, Taiwan's Friendly Dog Entertainment.
Last Saturday's turnout was slightly more than 4,000. One reason for the smaller turn-out was the less glittery line-up. Some also wondered about the addition of "Art" to the festival, courtesy of a handful of vendors selling craft items and clothing.
Senior system engineer Chen Hwei Yen, 39, said: "This year's line-up has fewer stars performing than last year's and I was expecting more. We were not aware there were art offerings until we came here."
The festival also offered a spread of Taiwanese foods such as oyster vermicelli and braised pork rice, though student Dorothy Neo, 22, said that she did not find it "very authentically Taiwanese".
While Ong came on around 3pm last year in the blistering heat, this year's opening-billed act Yao Yao started performing only around 6.30pm.
Even then, the extensive seated area was only sparsely filled. It might have been a blessing in disguise since she went totally off-key in the rendition of her hit, Love Hug.
Popster Bii deserved a bigger audience though. Looking like a Korean boyband member with his boyish, almost pretty, features, he asked those who did not know him to raise their hands. He admitted that it was more than he thought but gamely performed tracks from his new album Come Back To Bii as well as a cover of Aerosmith's I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing.
It was Ding Dang who finally got the crowd up on their feet when she announced: "Afternoon tea is over, time to dance." She demonstrated a few simple steps and had everyone grooving to her cover of WonFu's I Love Summer.
The big-lunged singer belted out ballads such as I Am A Little Bird and I Love Him. She also unleashed some high-octane dance moves, complete with a cheerleading squad at one point, as she pumped out Beyonce's Crazy In Love and her own Wild Animal.