About This Festival
This mammoth event more than lives up to its name, having grown into one the biggest outdoor music festivals in not only Thailand, but all of Southeast Asia. There are plenty of reasons why Big Mountain Music Festival’s (BMMF) crowds have gone from 20,000 at its 2010 debut to 70,000 at its 2014 incarnation. One of the most obvious is GMM Grammy, the corporation that puts on the fest while also controlling 70-80 percent of the Thai music industry by making major contributions to terrestrial radio, digital TV, and film.
In its early days, the festival's rapid growth prompted promoters to relocate from their original eponymous Big Mountain (or Khao Yaiy) location to the more vast Kaeng Krachan Country Club Phetchaburi, a venue that’s still surrounded by the region’s towering mountains from which the fest takes its name. Now, there are nine stages erected for over 200 acts, which perform over the festival's jam-packed two days.
But the vastness of those aspects pales in comparison to the fest’s greatest feat: its wide swath of local genres. Indeed, rock, pop, dance, indie, and electronica acts are all robustly represented, along with Thailand’s own Luk-Thung country music and the Moh-Lam folk songs that are a rich part of Southeast Asia’s heritage. And while the coordinators' boundless ambition makes for a world-class event, they also take care to ensure that Big Mountain promotes local acts. Indeed, the vast majority of the fest is comprised of Thai stars, such as 2015 headlining rock vets Bodyslam, beloved Chiang Mai synth-pop outfit Polycat, and ukulele wielding singer-songwriter Singto Numchok.
Advocating for that indigenous scene is forefront on the mind of managing director and Big Mountain founder Yuthana "Ted" Boonorm, who told Billboard that: "We're going to try to bring more international acts, but we want to keep Big Mountain focused on the Thai scene. So we're going to create another music festival for international acts. Bringing them to Big Mountain is kind of research for us. To create an international music festival we need a big budget.”
Stimulating the Thai Scene
Aside from providing a gargantuan platform for artists to perform, Big Mountain also offers up indispensable forms of music education. The 2014 edition featured free workshops on acoustics and hardware chaired by Zak, a renowned Japanese sound engineer (and husband to Buffalo Daughter bassist Yumiko Ohno) who gave a talk rife with insider knowledge and fielded local acts’ questions.
Stages For The Ages
Let's go down the list: Giant inflatable dinosaurs and swans? Check. Spiderweb stage scaffolding? Check. Incandescent light shows and thunderous fireworks? Check. These eye-popping features and more were present on the nine different stages built for the 2015 Big Mountain Festival.
A Historic Fest
When Boonorm began looking into a portion of the valley in Thailand’s northeastern Pakchong region, he realized that it was not only a beautiful place for an outdoor music festival, but also a locale rife with riveting history and culture. He wanted to draw on that rich cultural heritage for Big Mountain, explaining:
"The theme is the history of Pakchong, which started about 40 years ago. Some farmers started making cow ranches so this became a cow area – then some theme parks opened up. When we looked into this area we ate at a steak restaurant, and saw a picture showing how to cut the cow into different steaks, and our logo concept popped up from that!”