Uneven Spring Wave smoothed by headliners A-mei, Jam Hsiao and Ding Dang

Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Taiwanese sweetheart Guo Shu Yao "Yao Yao" performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Taiwanese sweetheart Guo Shu Yao "Yao Yao" performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Rising star Bii performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Rising star Bii performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Taiwanese sweetheart Guo Shu Yao "Yao Yao" performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Taiwanese sweetheart Guo Shu Yao "Yao Yao" performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mando Pop diva A-mei performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mando Pop diva A-mei performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mando Pop diva A-mei performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mando Pop diva A-mei performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Reigning drama queen idol Della Ding Dang performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Chart-topper Jam Hsiao performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Chart-topper Jam Hsiao performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Chart-topper Jam Hsiao performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Chart-topper Jam Hsiao performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Chart-topper Jam Hsiao performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Chart-topper Jam Hsiao performs during the Spring Wave music festival 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay on Jun 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Spring looks different this year.

Instead of a convivial festival atmosphere with music fans sprawled out on the grass, 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 the top-tier ticket of $218.

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, says: "I understand they have to do their job and keep the crowd under control, but it's still really ridiculous. They were also very rude in handling the situation."

An unhappy relationship manager Jo Chieng, 30, said: "I was not expecting this at all because usually we can stand and dance in concerts, and that is what a concert should be like. When I attended other concerts in Taiwan, there were people who stood on their seats but nobody bothered them."

Despite the rough patches, Taiwanese 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 our shores for the first time last year (2013) 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 over 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: "This year's line-up has fewer stars performing than last year's and I was expecting more. We were not even 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, says 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 only started performing 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 (2013) 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.

Hsiao then electrified the stage in an electric blue jacket, yelping and whooping with joy with a charismatic swagger.

He pretended to throw his water bottle into the crowd and then deadpanned: "I've done this trick 86 times and it still causes a stir every time." He would later throw his sweat-stained towel to his fans after some more teasing.

His set ended with an energetic cover of Michael Jackson's Black Or White and then his own rock hit, Princess.

By the time A-mei came on stage at 10.30pm, the crowd was ready to party.

The husky-voiced diva did not even have to ask and everyone was up on their feet as she launched into a medley of fast songs. Switching gears easily, she also performed crowd-pleasing ballads Hostage and Remember as well as Qu Wanting's You Exist In My Song.

There was also good news for fans as she announced the arrival of a new album - her first in three years - possibly in July.

A playful A-mei asked her cheering fans: "What time is it? 8.40? Really? Because I've been told I can't sing too late." And then she added to a roar of approval: "Can I really sing? I have no intention of going home. Alright then, let's play a little more."

The festival ended past 11.30pm as revellers danced to Three Days Three Nights.

And then another Spring Wave receded as the crowd ebbed away into the night.

bchan@sph.com.sg

With additional reporting by Paige Lim.