Sage Francis: Hip-Hop Hits the South

**KOREA GIG GUIDE HAS FREE TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY FOR SAGE FRANCIS’ DAEGU CONCERT. DETAILS ON HOW TO WIN THE TICKETS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST **

Independent rapper, spoken word artist, and entrepreneur Sage Francis is coming to South Korea for the first time this weekend to share his unique take on hip-hop at Daegu’s Jeng-iy Collective (December 19) and Busan’s Club Realize (December 20).

Sage Francis Picture

Often referred to as the “forefather of indie hip-hop” (alongside “The Emcee’s Emcee” and “The rapper your favorite rappers idolize”), he began entering rap contests at the age of 12, and in a bid to get his music out there, formed his own record label Strange Famous Records before releasing his debut album, “Personal Journeys,” in 2002. Since then, he has released five more albums, produced eight “Sick” mixtapes, collaborated with a huge roster of performers, toured constantly, all the while still developing and growing his label and its roster.

After a four-year hiatus, he released his latest album “Copper Gone” in June of this year to critical acclaim. Korea Gig Guide had a quick chat with him in-between his recent shows in Australia.

Could you introduce yourself to the people of South Korea?

Hey, I thought that was your job! Okay, well, my name is Sage Francis. I am an American hip-hop artist. I talk a lot of shit and I back it all the fuck up. I run my own record label, Strange Famous Records, and that’s pretty much the only kind of running I like to do.

 You are often called a “rapper” and a “spoken word artist”, how do you distinguish the two? How do you feel about genres and labels in music from both a personal and industry perspective?

“Spoken word” is when material is performed with no specific rhythm or rhyme structure. There’s no music or beat to accompany the words. It’s more of a free-form vocal performance. Rap can also be performed without music, but it’s usually executed in 4/4 time with rhymes to connect each bar. I usually rap, and I think that’s always been my strength, but spoken word comes with its own strengths. It’s been important for me to jump between both, especially at live shows, if I think people are really listening.

You started writing and performing at a young age, when did you realize you wanted to do this for a living?

I had no idea I’d be able to do it for a living, but I knew that I always wanted to do it. When I was a kid I had fantasies about scoring a big record contract because, at the time, that’s how I thought all records were made. In college I discovered the punk scene and became aware of the DIY ethic, which was a huge revelation. That was a very important discovery because it would eventually shape a career that basically kicked off in 1996.

What was it about hip-hop that drew you in, and what artists inspired you growing up?

I was inspired by the sounds, the rhymes, the attitude, the language, and the energy. I loved everything about it. This was the mid-80s so I was inspired by everything I listened to. Run DMC, Fat Boys, Ice T, Too Short, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and on and on. Everyone was dope in their own way.

You have earned two degrees; in what ways does your education affect your music, sound, and message?

I have a degree in communications and in journalism. School was not a focus of mine, nor were my studies. I was still trying to figure out who I was and what other people were like. It was important for me to be around different types of people at that time, and even more
important for me to get involved with college radio as well as social activist groups. It was such a busy, hectic, exciting time in my life and there’s no way I could attribute any of what I do to the things that happened in any classroom. The classroom made the least impact on me. It was important for me to pass though, so I made sure I got my degree. My passion and focus was all about the things outside of the stuffy classroom though.

You are in the middle of a very extensive tour, how does performing live compare to recording?

They are entirely different beasts. Each thing requires its own set of skills. Recording is an introverted and private experience for me. I don’t like anyone to be around. Performing is obviously more about public entertainment. It’s immediate. I like to do both and I’m glad I was able to marry the two, but they are definitely their own thing. There are a lot of songs I’ve recorded that I don’t ever want to perform live. And there are also a lot of songs that I have to change in order for them to be performed live. I like the control I get to have while recording. I like losing control when I perform.

Do you have any favorite places to perform?

California and Colorado shows are always great. Phoenix, AZ gets really rowdy. A lot of places in the UK get rowdy too. I think there was a mosh pit to one of my spoken word performances when I was there last month. Vancouver shows get wild. I’ve played about 90 shows this year so it’s kind of tough to remember specific cities. Everything just turns into one big blur. I wish I could shout out the East Coast, as that’s where I’m from, but the crowds there are usually very reserved. I still love playing in Providence and Boston though. What I really love is playing in remote areas. Small town shows too. They don’t pay the bills, but they make up for it in other ways. I love being able to travel to places like Alaska, Iceland, and New Zealand. And now I get to play South Korea, which I never thought would be possible. I’m very thankful for these opportunities the fans
and music community have afforded me.

What can you tell us about the formation and running of Strange Famous Records, and how it has progressed since it began?

I dubbed cassette tapes at first so I could have something to sell at shows. Whatever money I made went into making more tapes. And then it went into making CDs, which were actually CD-Rs that I burned at first. Once I made enough money from those sales I was able to pay for a manufacturer to make everything. I sold them at shows and over the
internet if people trusted me enough to send cash in the mail. Eventually I worked with CD distributors who were able to get my music into stores and I developed a more proper webstore. I learned more and more about running a record label as time went on and eventually I was able to put out other people’s music. By 2003 I started employing
other people to do things and by 2005 we grew into a bigger operation with more signed artists. We could have kept growing, and we did have a lot of signings in 2008, but I didn’t like the idea of the label getting big just for the sake of getting big. I think it’s important
for us to maintain quality control and only work with a select few artists.

How has technology helped you to get your music and message out there over the last 15 or so years?

Technology allowed me to reach out to people all over the world. Before the internet I was pretty much stuck to just Rhode Island, Boston, Connecticut, and NYC. But, as fate would have it, it was people from almost every other territory in the world who really “got” what I was doing. That’s when the support came for me to be able to quit my job serving ice cream.

How does your home of Providence, Rhode Island impact your music?

I’m not sure. Maybe it’s good for me to have so much privacy and solitude. Maybe it’s bad. Maybe it doesn’t have any impact. It doesn’t seem like my location affects me much when it comes to writing and recording music, but perhaps I’d have to live somewhere else for a long time to really notice something different.

What’s your opinion on the evolution of hip-hop, and where would you like to see it go?

Hip-hop has evolved in every imaginable way. I’d like for it to keep doing whatever it likes to do. The craft is not in any kind of danger. There will always be great stuff, there will always be awful stuff. I hope at some point the music journalists and websites get a bit more interested in finding what’s really good rather than just covering whatever publicists and major record labels throw at them. That would be helpful in several ways.

Copper Gone

You delivered a new album earlier this year after a four-year gap, how was it to release “Copper Gone”?

It was invigorating. It re-energized me and, in some ways, gave me a brighter outlook on the future. I was in a dark place for far too long. Even if I never put out another album – which I will – I’d be more than content with releasing “Copper Gone” as my final stand. The process of releasing a project of this magnitude on your own label is more work than most people will ever understand, and we did it. We did it big. I’m incredibly proud of everyone who was involved with bringing this album to the public, and I’m glad I pushed myself to continue the tradition of proving my adversaries wrong.


What are your plans after this tour and for your career and label in the future?

I’m going to try and be as happy as possible while being as productive as possible. That’s always the goal, but I never quite know what it will entail. There’s a lot to do. I just want to get to it and do it at my own pace without upsetting people I care about.

What can those of us in South Korea expect from your upcoming live performances?

Expect surprises. Expect entertainment. Expect to be as impressed as you are confused. I’m an expert in all fields. This is what I live for at this point.

Francis’ live performances are mesmerizing, high energy, and unique. Soundfuse Magazine’s review from a show in Chicago this summer stated that he “doesn’t just own the stage while he performs — it looks like he’s about to snap the mic stand over his head and tear the stage to pieces.”  You should not miss the chance to see this talented and focused performer on these shores.

Sage Francis performs at Jeng-iy Collective in Daegu on December 19.  The show starts at 8 pm and Table People, PJQ, and Sean O’Gorman are also on the bill.  Tickets are 25,000 won.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Sage Francis also performs at Club Realize in Busan on December 20.  The show starts at 10 pm and Illap and Carlos Williams are also on the bill.  Tickets are 25,000 won.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Sage Francis Tour Poster

Want to win a pair of free tickets to see Sage Francis play at Jeng-iy Collective?  Korea Gig Guide has a pair of tickets to give away for Friday’s concert courtesy of DigitTo qualify for the tickets, simply share this story on Facebook.  Then email us at koreagigguide@gmail.com to let us know that you’ve posted the link to your Facebook wall, and we’ll add your name to the draw.  The contest closes at 11:30 am on Friday morning (December 19) and we’ll notify the winner by noon that day.  Good luck!

 

Nice Legs Tour Diary: Taipei4Life

By Henry Demos

I have been staring at this screen for what seems like minutes or hours or maybe days.  I have no idea.  Time has come to a standstill.  I am writing this because I fell in love with Taipei.  I have to write this.  Whatever this is, I have to write this because of Taipei.

Oh yeah, I forgot the introductions!  We are Nice Legs.  Lauren E. Walker plays the voice.  JJ hits things hard and rhythmically, and I play the three string.  Nice Legs is improv fuzz pop or something.  When we aren’t noising, we live in Seoul, Korea.

But now back to us playing in Taipei …

A few months back, we started sending emails – lots and lots of emails.  You see, we had previously toured Tokyo and I just didn’t learn my lesson.  I thought I needed to send hundreds of wasteful emails to schmucks that just don’t care about me, my music, or my face.  It seemed logical: send a bunch of emails and see what sticks.  It isn’t logical.  After days of stupidity, I started sending smart emails.

The first person I contacted was my new friend and owner/operator of another great gig guide (GigGuide.tw), Steve Leggat.  Steve is a nice f*cking guy.  He didn’t know me. Luckily through the amazing internet email land we were able to build a relationship.  He told me who to write.  More importantly, I could use his name as a reference.  Steve’s word is bond down in Taipei.  He put me in touch with my dream date Dan.  Dan is best known for being both the the booking agent for the Taipei live space Revolver and as lead singer/guitarist of the unstoppable Until Seeing Whales Eyes.

After booking us at Revolver, Dan told me that he would put us on a festival he was running called Volume 22.  Awesome!  Our first time playing Taipei and already we were getting a f*cking festival!  Man, did it kill but more on Volume 22 later because that was the sh*t.  Now we had to figure out where we were going to sleep.  I mean, we are poor … and did I mention our drummer JJ is going to have a baby?  Yeah, we needed something cheap.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but boy did it.  We had another great stroke of luck with our friends Todde and Patty.  They not only put us up, showed us the town, and drank us under the table, but they also found us a third gig.  They made our trip complete!

So we promptly bought plane tickets.  Of course that is a total lie.  We all waited until the last minute and paid way too much.  But let’s just flash forward.

Friday:

Nice Legs Revolver

We played at the totally righteous Revolver.  I want to call it a punk club, but that wouldn’t really do it justice.  It’s a two-story joint with a bar on the first floor and the venue on the second, and it has great amps, drinks, and drums.  The green room was pretty ill too.  We were the opening act for Taipei legends Freckles and Osaka beatbox math noise rockers Qu.  The show was packed.  I stripped down to only my fishnets for some reason.  It was just that good.  Our first night playing in a new city and we already felt welcomed with open arms.

Later, Dan took us out for drinks.  Things got a little hazy from there.  I’m pretty sure it was fun!

Saturday:

Volume 22

This was that festival, Volume 22 at a place called The Wall.  There were bands from Taipei, Tokyo, Osaka, and Singapore.  It was the most organized event I have been a part of.  Two stages right next to each other.  When one band played, the next would set up.  Dude, it was great.  There was even this guy in the audience that sang along with the strangest voice.  Lauren definitely gave him the mic for the chorus of one song.  I could go on for pages about the bands, people, and everything but I won’t.  I will just say 22Records is doing some fine work.

Dan took us out for drinks again …

Sunday:

After a rough start at the crack of noon, we got fixed up with spectacular meals at Mary’s Hamburger. Definitely go there if you visit Taipei!  Gig time came quicker than we hoped so we were off to Vicious Circle.  The club had a diner, a bar, and a clothing shop.  Also it was oddly clean.

Our lovely hosts Todde and Patty had wrangled this show for us.  The young and quirky Dirty Fiction opened for us.  The concert was riddled with technical difficulties but damn it was probably my favorite show of the weekend.  Feedback can go f*ck itself!  By the way David Frazier from the Taipei Times came out that night.  I should mention he wrote an “article” about us.  It was … uh … unique.  What a guy.

Nice Legs Article

I’m not really sure how to end this.  The tour was over.  We didn’t have much time left so we thought it best to spend it with our new friends.  Actually, I retract that last bit.  The people we met in Taipei aren’t just new friends; they are new family.  I’m glad we could spend the weekend with those guys:  Dan, Todde, Patty, Kiki, Benben, Taipei Jesus, Steve, Dave, everybody.

Taiwan is an amazing place with amazing people.  Nice Legs is going back, you can bet your ass on that.  Taiwan, we love you!  Unless that is not really your thing but we love you still, okay?

rainbow

Lineup Changes and a New Band on Display at the 2014 Gogol Records Label Party

Seoul indie imprint Gogol Records will have their second annual year end label party on Saturday night (December 13) at Club Freebird 2 in Hongdae.

Gogol Picture

Two of Gogol’s acts, Romantiqua and Juck Juck Grunzie, have recently made changes to their lineups.  In November, Romantiqua and bassist Griffin Shim parted ways.  The instrumental rockers are still searching for a permanent replacement for Shim, so Apollo 18’s Dae-inn Kim will play bass during their set on Saturday night.

Romantiqua

In the case of Juck Juck Grunzie, drummer Geun-chang Park recently left so the group have brought in Kyung-hyun Lee to fill his spot.  Kyung-hyun previously drummed in the band Sun’strolling.  This weekend’s Gogol showcase will be only his second show with Juck Juck Grunzie.  He made his live debut with them on December 5 as part of Badabie’s tenth anniversary celebrations.

Juck Juck Grunzie

“Our first concert together went well,” says vocalist and synth player Ah-reum Lee.  “A lot of people there said that his drumming goes really well with our sound.  He has a lot of positive energy and rock ‘n’ roll spirit in his heart.  I think he’s going to have a great effect on our vibe and energy.”

Ah-reum is excited about working together with him and feels that his playing can help take Juck Juck Grunzie’s psych-tinged noise rock in even more directions.

“He’s a very powerful drummer.  I think a lot of rock music fans are going to be more interested in our new sound because it’s definitely going to be more rocking.  He’s really open minded about different styles of music, so we want to try and experiment more and more with our music.”

Here’s a newly released live video of Juck Juck Grunize with former drummer Geun-chang Park playing as part of Loose Union‘s “Live at Union Studio” series.

Saturday’s show will also feature a performance from the most recent addition to the Gogol Records family, Summer Never Comes.  The Gwangju post-rock trio joined the label this past summer.

Summer Never Comes

“Several bands who we like are part of Gogol Records so we were interested in the label,” says guitarist Young-do Pyen.  “Romantiqua guitarist Hyun Kim was the person who introduced our band to Gogol Records.  We’re grateful that he did that.”

Originally formed in 2008, after a number of member changes the band issued its first album, “Inuit,” in 2013.  They plan to put out their sophomore offering through Gogol Records in 2015. Set to be titled “Blackout,” Summer Never Comes will start recording the disc in January.

As previously reported on KGG, Romantiqua are now in the process of recording a new two-song single and National Pigeon Unity will be hitting the studio in January too so there should be lots of great music coming out under the Gogol Records name in the coming months.  And rumor has it label founders Apollo 18 are going to finally begin work on their very long overdue second full-length album next year as well.

Gogol Records’ label concert takes place on December 13 at Club Freebird 2. Apollo 18, Juck Juck Grunzie, Romantiqua, National Pigeon Unity, Summer Never Comes, and Contrules will play. The show starts at 5 pm and tickets are 10,000 won.

Gogol Poster

Tenacious D Heat Up a Frigid Seoul Evening

By Brian Gilbert and Jamie Gilbert

Tenacious D finished up the Asian leg of their 2014 Tour at Olympic Hall in Seoul on Saturday, December 6. Their second of two shows in the city, the act drew an enthusiastic crowd despite the biting chill outside.  The audience waited in anticipation for the band to take the stage, and the chanting began even before the first stage lights came up.  So, opening with “Tribute,” the lead single from their acclaimed 2001 eponymous debut, was definitely a crowd-pleasing way to get the night started.

Tenacious D Poster

For anyone familiar with the antics of the two comedic frontmen of Tenacious D, their entire set was a delicious mix of comedy and hard-rocking music.  Jack Black brought incredible energy to each and every song, adding to his belted-out high trills and his trademark crazy eyes. His partner in crime, Kyle Gass, added in some beautiful acoustic stylings along with quirky additions throughout the show, including a moment during which he simultaneously played two different sized recorders in the middle of “Simply Jazz.”

Tenacious D

Whether a song was one nearly everyone in the audience was familiar with like “Tribute” or “POD,” or a slightly lesser known piece, JB and KG (as they are otherwise known) maintained their unique balance and harmony as they fed off each other’s energy. It was easy to spot their joy in making music together.  And the pair’s performance was strengthened by the extremely talented musicians backing them.

Tenacious D 1

As is notable at some concerts in Korea, this show was a 19 and over event, in this case because of the crass humor and language the band added to the rock and physical comedy of the show. However, a great deal of the bathroom humor was likely lost in translation for some of the non-native English speakers in attendance. That being said, there was also plenty of higher-brow comedy to be enjoyed, highlighted in the bits with King JB and his lowly roadie and of course, the ubiquitous “Simply Jazz” break which, in addition to KG’s impressive finger/lung skills, featured unusual call and response sections encouraged with the assertion that “There are no wrong notes in jazz!”

Although the crowd did not fully fill out the impressively laid out Olympic Hall, there was no shortage of energy on the floor throughout the concert.  Anyone present looking to have their socks rocked partially off and seeking both cheap and expensive laughs clearly got their money’s worth, and the band’s actions showed they appreciated the fans in turn.  Whatever your mood, Tenacious D definitely delivers in entertainment, and if given the chance to catch the band as they continue their world tour later this month, come with tongues in cheek and rock-fingers ready for “The Greatest Band on Earth.”

Tenacious D 3

Set List:
“Tribute”
“POD”
“Rize of the Fenix”
“Low Hangin’ Fruit”
“Señorita”
“Kielbasa”
“Kickapoo”
“Wonderboy”
“Simply Jazz”
“The Metal”
“Dio”
“Roadie”
“Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)”
“We Beat the Devil”
“Double Team”

Encore:
“Baby”
“Pinball Wizard” / “There’s a Doctor” / “Go to the Mirror!”
“F*ck Her Gently”

The photos are from Tenacious D’s Friday, December 5 show in Seoul and were provided by Private Curve.

Kingston Rudieska get Aggro

If you thought Kingston Rudieska‘s last release — Ska n’ Soul with Dr Ring-Ding — was too short, now they’ve gone and put out a full two-CD album. This latest project, titled Everyday People, shows off the nine-piece ska band in pure form. Simply put, they’ve never sounded more like themselves before.

The secret weapon in their arsenal this time was Brian Dixon, music engineer extraordinaire. You might have heard some of his music from his time playing guitar in the LA dirty reggae band the Aggrolites, but his main love is in producing music. Dixon was in Korea this September to record, giving Korea Gig Guide enough time to ask him a few questions about his mission here.

How were you convinced to come to Korea?

An old friend of mine, Walter Dunn, works for the US military and is stationed in Korea. He told me about Kingston Rudieska and that they were going to do a new album and that I should engineer/produce it. He told me they were great musicians, but they needed that “grit” that I’m known for.

Brian Dixon (right) with Walter Dunn, former vocalist of Stingers ATX

Brian Dixon (right) hangs out with Walter Dunn (left), former vocalist of Stingers ATX, at a Kingston Rudieska concert at Sungkyunkwan University.

I have traveled the world, but had never been to Korea. Kingston Rudieska are a tight band and I wanted to make them sound the way I hear them. It was a very easy sell. Getting to go to a foreign country to record ska/rocksteady/reggae is a blessing.

Can you explain your philosophy on music production? What makes a recording have grit?

My approach is so simple. I have the band play live together in the same room. No headphones. No separation. I put them in a circle, so they can all see each other. The band always plays better in their natural environment. This is how they rehearse. This is how they sound the best. It’s so easy.

What is one thing you can zero in on about Kingston Rudieska that you would say is truly unique and special?

I instantly Ioved their “Asian” take on Jamaican music. They do it differently than musicians from California. Musicians from Los Angeles have a certain take on Jamaican music. Asians have their way. Both are valid, in my opinion. Life isn’t fun if you eat the same dinner every night.

Is there a lot of what you would consider “Koreanness” in their music?

There’s some, but I wanted more. This was a big discussion during the recording. They wanted a more traditional Jamaican sound. I wanted a more “Korean sound,” using ancient traditional Korean melodies and instruments. They seemed a bit confused why I kept asking them to do that. Five thousand years of culture… it is amazing to me. Finally, the last day, they indulged me with a “jam session” – they pulled out two ancient Korean songs to play. It was amazing! They actually embraced their 5,000-year-old culture and played the music that is in their souls. Beautiful.

Why was it decided to do a second disc?

When I do production/engineering work, I usually ask the band to do a “jam session” for me. This is helpful for a number of reasons. I get to hear what the band is sounding like in that particular studio. I can check all of the mics. The band starts to relax and have fun, which makes recording their songs much easier because the studio can be stressful for musicians. Kingston Rudieska was against my idea at first. It’s just not the Korean way. On the last day, we finished with the recording of all their songs, so they allowed my “jam session.” That became the second disc. The second disc isn’t “perfect,” but it has a certain energy that is even higher than the album. An incredible few hours that I will never forget. The band was on fire!

How will this album compare to earlier Kingston Rudieska recordings?

I recorded them the way they were meant to sound!

The double album Everyday People was released at the start of the month, but the release party is happening on Saturday, December 13 at MUV Hall, around the corner from Sangsang Madang in Hongdae. The concert starts at 7 pm and tickets are 35,000 won in advance and 40,000 won at the door.

Kingston Rudieska Everyday People For more information, RSVP on Facebook.

Startline, National Pigeon Unity, and Danpyunsun at the Last Shake Shop of 2014

The final Shake Shop concert of 2014 will take place at Club Freebird 2 in Seoul tonight (December 5). Presented by Korea Gig Guide and Dream Dance Studio, the show will feature a trio of Seoul-based, international touring indie acts – Startline, National Pigeon Unity, and Danpyunsun – all collaborating with Canadian bellydancer Eshe and her Navah troupe.

Startline

This will be melodic punk rockers Startline’s second time performing at Shake Shop. The three piece previously played the event back in March.

“Shake Shop was a new and exciting experience for us,” says drummer Choi Gun. “We’re excited about doing it again.  Bellydance is full of energy and passion, just like our music is.  I think together we’ll create a very cool and thrilling experience for everyone.”

This past summer, Startline played concerts in China, Taiwan, and Japan. In November, they returned back to China for a pair of shows in Suzhou and Shanghai.

“Those tours were really good for us,” says Choi.  “I want to face many new musical challenges with Startline.  (Guitarist and vocalist) Ho-jun (Jung) needs more experience on a wide variety of stages as a vocalist and (bassist) Zena (Won) likes watching great musicians from all around the world and gaining inspiration from them.  These experiences in different environments are making us a stronger band and are helping us to create our own unique style of punk.”

Startline are currently gigging in support of their latest EP, “Across the Night,” which was released in August. Similar to 2013’s “Light My Fire” EP, “Across the Night” is full of catchy, fast-paced tracks.  Next year Startline plan to put out their full-length debut and intend to tour Japan again as well.  Other overseas concerts are a possibility as well.

NPU

June saw National Pigeon Unity making their return to the local live circuit after a nearly two-year absence while the band members did their military service.  In September, the rock duo traveled to Taiwan to play at Taipei’s Beastie Rock Festival.

“Beastie Rock Festival helped us and taught us many things,” say drummer Park Young-mok.  “We’ve been a band for seven years, but that was our first time to play outside of Korea.  It was also one of our first concerts after finishing our army duties.  I think that show helped us get our energy back.  It also showed us that in places where we can’t speak the language, we still can communicate through our songs.

“The crowd at Beastie Rock seemed to be really interested in our music.  As soon as we got onstage the air felt different and everyone seemed to be really focused on what we were doing.  It was a really good experience.”

Early next year, the group plan to start recording the long-awaited follow-up to their 2011 full-length, “Root.”  Originally formed as a trio, “Root” was their first offering as a two-piece band.  With their next album they want to take things up a notch and show people just how strong of a duo they are.  Fans can get a taste of what to expect from National Pigeon Unity’s 2015 album on December 8 when they group issue a new two-song digital single called “Like a Light.”

Shake Shop will be National Pigeon Unity’s first time teaming up with dancers.

“We don’t know much about bellydancing, but we know Eshe and have seen her and Navah collaborate with other bands,” says Park.  “We’re excited and a little worried about the show.  We think it’s going to be a good challenge, though, and we look forward to seeing how our music mixes with bellydancing.”

Danpyunsun

Also on tonight’s bill is Danpyunsun.  The experimental folk singer performed in Japan in November.  And he’s been quite active this year with his excellent band Danpyunsun and the Sailors.  He’ll be playing solo at Shake Shop while the bellydancers shimmy along.

Shake Shop Vol. 18 takes place on Friday, December 5 at Club Freebird 2. The doors open at 8 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Startline, National Pigeon Unity, and Danpyunsun.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for tonight’s concert:

Danpyunsun 8:20 pm – 8:55 pm
Startline 9:05 pm – 9:40 pm
Navah 9:40 pm – 9:55 pm
National Pigeon Unity 9:55 pm – 10:30 pm

Shake Shop Poster

Rocking Out for a Good Cause at Rubber Seoul 2014

The seventh annual Rubber Seoul concert takes place on November 29 (Saturday) in Hongdae and will feature 25 acts performing at Club Ta, Club FF, Gogos 2, Club Freebird 2, and DGBD from 8 pm to 3 am.  The goal of the charity event is to raise money for Little Travellers Korea and create awareness about AIDS/HIV.  A non-profit organization, Little Travellers collects funds not only for AIDS/HIV research but also provides aid to South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, where over 40% of the population has contracted the disease.

Last year’s Rubber Seoul raised nearly four million won. The event is always a great night, so you should definitely make an effort to swing by, see some cool bands, and support a great cause.

Hairy Big Button

Hard rock trio Harry Big Button will be making their third Rubber Seoul appearance on Saturday night.  They previously played in 2011 and 2013 and had a blast, making it an easy decision to say “yes” for Rubber Seoul 2014. Guitarist and vocalist Sungsoo Lee likes that his band can help support people battling AIDS/HIV with their art.

“Although people know that so many others are suffering around the world, we often forget to do things to help unless something is happening right next to us,” says Lee.  “Rubber Seoul is an excellent reminder that there are many people who need our help.”

At Rubber Seoul, Harry Big Button will be playing with the newest edition to their band, drummer Taegi Kim.  Kim joined the act in September and used to be part of the Korean bands Necropageos and Bolt.  The group will be working on the follow up to this year’s “Perfect Storm” EP in 2015 and Lee thinks Kim’s contributions will definitely strengthen the act.

“Taegi is an excellent rock drummer and we have very similar taste in music,” says Lee.  “We’ve known each other for a long time but have never had a chance to play in the same band so I’m really glad he joined Harry Big Button.  His drumming has a really deep and solid sound which fits well with Harry Big Button’s sound.  I think this will make our next album our hardest sounding one yet!”

When asked what fans at Rubber Seoul can expect from Harry Big Button’s 10:30 pm show at FF, Lee has this to offer.

“If you’re thirsty for real hard rock come see us play, we promise we won’t let you down!  And to anyone who will be catching us for the first time, we’ll make you sweat.”

Love X Stereo

Having gigged as part of Rubber Seoul in 2012 and 2013, Love X Stereo will also be making their third straight Rubber Seoul appearance on Saturday night.  When asked what keeps the electro-rock act coming back to the event, vocalist and synthesizer player Annie Ko says “It’s a good cause, and there’s always a great crowd.”

Last month, the group made their third stateside visit in the span of 12 months to play festival showcases at Culture Collide in Los Angeles and San Francisco and CMJ in New York.  The Los Angeles edition of Culture Collide ranked Love X Stereo no. 3 on their list of “Top 10 International Acts.”

“Our tour was great,” shares Ko.  “Culture Collide was really fun and we had a good time there. We felt like a lot of other bands and fans were rooting for us to do well at the festival.  We definitely want to go back to LA again – the weather was so good there!  And CMJ was really interesting too.”

What does Love X Stereo have planned for their 11:30 pm set at Club Freebird 2?

“We’re going to mix some danceable tracks and some soothing tracks together,” says Ko.  “It’s going to be fun.”

Wasted Johnny's

Bluesy rockers Wasted Johnny’s are also Rubber Seoul vets, having played at last year’s event. Bassist Nils Germain shares why the trio like playing at Rubber Seoul.

“Rubber Seoul brings a large amount of people to make crazy shows at the best clubs and it’s all for charity – what more could we ask for?” he says.  “We’re always proud to be a part of the event.”

In 2013, Wasted Johnny’s also traveled to the US for a handful of gigs in New York City and a show in Conneticut.  Germain would love for the band to return back to the States one day and also dreams of touring in Japan, Russia, England, and his home country of France.

“Our concerts in the US were great,” he says.  “We had some weather problems – it rained each time we played outside – and the club we played in didn’t have cymbals either.  But we overcame these problems and were able to perform all the concerts.  The response we got from people was great.  We had a blast!”

The group have nearly finished recording their first full-length album and fans can expect the release to come out sometime in 2015.  Fans wanting to know what to expect from the disc should check out Wasted Johnny’s midnight set at Club FF.

Billy Carter

Billy Carter will be making their Rubber Seoul debut on Saturday night and are really looking forward to the concert.

“We love to take part in charity shows,” says vocalist Jiwon Kim.  “And besides that, we used to play at Club Ta when we were a two-piece acoustic band but haven’t played there for a long time. We’re quite excited to play there again now that we’ve added a drummer.”

Earlier this year, drummer Hyunjoon Lee joined Billy Carter adding a harder edge to the act’s cool, bluesy tunes.  The band are currently recording their first EP and want to release the five-song offering in the coming months.  Just like with Wasted Johnny’s, Rubber Seoul show-goers can get a taste of the music that will grace the EP during Billy Carter’s 10 pm gig at Club Ta.

What does Billy Carter have in store for their Rubber Seoul set?

“We’re going to do what we always do!” Kim says.  “We’ll be singing, dancing, and crying out.  We always give it our all every time we play.”

Rubber Seoul 2014 takes place on Saturday night.  Tickets are 10,000 won and include entrance to all the venues.  For more information about the concert, check out its Facebook event page here.  And here’s the full schedule for the event:

Club Ta
8:00-8:20 Eshe & Navah
8:30-9:00 Veins
9:15-9:45 Ynot?
10:00-10:30 Billy Carter
10:45-11:15 Space Papa
11:30-12:00 Yes Yes

Club FF
9:00-9:30 pm The Roosters
9:45-10:15 24 Hours
10:30-11:00: Harry Big Button
11:15-11:45- Dead Buttons
12:00-12:30 Wasted Johnny’s

Gogos 2
9:00-9:30 Light and Noise
9:45-10:15 Oops Nice
10:30-11:00 Les Sales
11:15-11:45 Streetguns

Club Freebird 2
10:00-10:30 Williams Town
10:45-11:15 Patients
11:30-12:00 Love X Stereo
12:15-12:45 Man
1:00-1:30 Cannibal Heart
1:45-2:15 Mystery House
2:30-3:00 Burning Monkeys

DGBD
11:15-11:45 Pentasonic
12-12:30 4 Brothers
12:45-1:15 Magna Fall

Rubber Seoul Poster

Get Wild and Sweaty with Dan Deacon at Club FF on Friday

Acclaimed American electro-pop musician Dan Deacon will be bringing his high-energy live show to Seoul on Friday, November 28 for a show at Club FF in Hongdae.

Dan Deacon

Friday night’s gig will be Deacon’s second time touring in South Korea.  He previously played here in early 2012, doing dates in both Seoul and Busan.  Later that year, he released his “America” full-length offering.  Like the rest of his praised efforts, the album is densely packed full of a wonderful array of sounds.  In their review of “America,” DIY Magazine said, “As with all Dan Deacon albums, ‘America’ is a challenging listen and at times the sheer amount of things going on becomes a bit much, however it is also a supremely powerful album from a musician at the very top of his game.”

On September 9, 2014, Deacon posted on his Facebook page that he was “Finalizing the song order and then sending off my new album off for mastering tonight!”  No other information has come out about the upcoming release yet, but maybe with a bit of luck fans packed into Club FF will get a sneak peak at a few new tracks from the record.  But even if that doesn’t happen, you can still bank on Friday night being a highly entertaining (and very hot and sweaty) affair.  Renowned for his live sets, Deacon is big on crowd involvement at concerts – so his Club FF concert definitely won’t be a stand–perfectly–still–and–watch–with–your–arms–crossed kind of show.  Instead, expect a wild and memorable night full of fun shenanigans and great music.

KGG was able to ask Deacon a few questions a couple of day back.  Check out what he had to say below.

Why are you excited about playing in Seoul at the end of November?

The last time I played in Seoul is was super fun. The crowd was amazing. It made me really happy to be with so many happy people having a great time.

Aside from performing, is there anything else you’re hoping to see or do while you’re in Seoul?

I want to eat lots of food and drink way too much makgeolli.

What are some of your best memories from your 2012 Korean tour?

We hung out at this vinyl bar that played only Korean vinyl and drank makgeolli that they brewed in house.  It was a wild night.

What have been some of your highlights of 2014?

Touring with Arcade Fire was totally surreal, but making my new album was the highlight of my year for sure.  I miss making it.

What do you have planned for 2015?

Lots and lots of touring!

Dan Deacon plays on Friday night at Club FF.  The show starts at 11 pm and tickets are 45,000 won at the door. Love X Stereo will open the concert. For more information, check out the Facebook event page for the show here.

Dan Deacon Poster

Critical Darlings Wild Beasts Make a Mid-Week Stop in Seoul

**KOREA GIG GUIDE HAS FREE TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY FOR WILD BEASTS’ NOVEMBER 5 SEOUL CONCERT. DETAILS ON HOW TO WIN THE TICKETS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST **

Highly praised British electro-pop band Wild Beasts will be playing a show at V-Hall in Hongdae on Wednesday, November 5.  The concert will be the first of seven dates the quartet are doing in Asia this month.

Wild Beasts Band

Wild Beasts’ 2008 full-length debut, “Limbo, Panto,” received positive write ups from the likes of Pitchfork, NME, and Prefix Magazine with the latter saying “‘Limbo, Panto’ may be one of 2008’s most startlingly great debuts.”  The act’s sophomore offering, 2009’s “Two Dancers,” proved to be an even more successful affair.  Along with being nominated for 2010’s Mercury Prize, it was also included on NME’sBest Albums of the Decade” list and earned a spot in the book “1001 Albums You Must Hear before You Die.”

The group kept going strong with 2011’s “Smother.”  In their review of the album, the BBC wrote that Wild Beasts “are, right now, the most inspirational, intriguing, effortlessly enrapturing band at work on these shores.”  This year saw the release of Wild Beasts’ fourth long-player, “Present Tense.”  Issued in February, just like the rest of the band’s back catalogue, “Present Tense” has had little trouble collecting accolades with The Line of Best Fit saying “They’ve pulled off possibly the most intelligent, involving and profound record since ‘OK Computer.’”

While supporting “Present Tense,” Wilds Beasts have played a number of high-profile outings including Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, and the Pitchfork Music Festival.  V-Hall is obviously a much more intimate space than those large festival stages, which should make for a much more memorable experience for gig goers.

Wild Beasts perform on Wednesday night at V-Hall.  Doors open at 8 pm and the show starts at 8:30 pm.  Tickets are 50,000 won in advance and 60,000 won at the door.  Information on purchasing advance tickets can be found here.  And there’s a Facebook event page for the show here.

Wild Beasts Poster

Want to win a pair of free tickets to see Wild Beasts play at V-Hall?  Korea Gig Guide has two pairs of tickets to give away for Wednesday’s concert courtesy of My Same InkTo qualify for the tickets, simply share this story on Facebook.  Then email us at koreagigguide@gmail.com to let us know that you’ve posted the link to your Facebook wall, and we’ll add your name to the draw.  The contest closes at 3 pm on Tuesday afternoon (November 4) and we’ll notify winners by 4 pm that day.  Good luck!

The Muffs Play Seoul in Support of Their First Album in a Decade

On Friday night (October 31), Los Angeles punk/garage rock stalwarts The Muffs will be making their Korean live debut with a show in Hongdae at DGBD.

The Muffs Profile

The Muffs formed in 1991 and released their eponymous debut in 1993.  In 1995, their fantastic take on Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” was featured in the popular teen flick “Clueless” bringing more mainstream attention to the act.

Between 1995 and 2004, The Muffs issued four praised full-length albums.  But after that things got quiet with the group.  Although they still gigged sporadically, they went a decade without releasing an album.  The band members kept busy with other projects, though.  Drummer Roy McDonald is also in the seminal power-pop band Red Kross, and last year vocalist and guitarist Kim Shattuck spent several months as the touring bassist for the Pixies after Kim Deal’s departure.

The Muffs Album

This past summer the long-awaited follow-up to 2004’s “Really Really Happy” finally surfaced.  Playfully titled “Whoop Dee Doo,” the effort’s dozen tracks were penned between 2006 and 2010, and The Muffs started recording the album in February 2010.  And much to the delight of fans, despite the 10-year gap, with “Whoop Dee Doo” The Muffs sound just like … well, The Muffs.  The release fits in great with the band’s previous output making it very easy to forget the extended break between albums.  Consequence of Sound touched upon this in their positive review of the offering saying, “‘Whoop Dee Doo’ is a statement of consistency. It might be more of the same, but if they’re not pushing their sound forward, they aren’t losing pace.”

The Muffs played in Tokyo today and will be flying to Korea Friday early in the day to prepare for their gig at DGBD.  Saturday will see the band traveling back to Japan for concerts on November 1 in Osaka and November 3 in Tokyo again.  Prior to her Shibuya show tonight,   Shattuck answered a few questions for Korea Gig Guide.

Why are The Muffs excited to be playing in Seoul on October 31?

We’ve never played in Seoul before and we can’t wait to go there.  We’re going to be really loud and energetic at the gig!

What are some of your best memories from making “Whoop Dee Doo”?

I really enjoyed recording my sister Kristen singing harmonies on the album. We work well together and have a lot of laughs.

How do you feel the album compares to the rest of The Muff’s back catalogue?

I think it’s our best record yet.

Ten years passed between the release of “Really Really Happy” and “Whoop Dee Doo.” After such a long break, why did this year feel like a good time to put out “Whoop Dee Doo”?

Because we were finally done!

The Muffs play on Friday night at DGBD.  Tickets are 30,000 won at the door.  The show starts at 8 pm and Crying Nut and Look and Listen are also on the bill.  For more information, check out the Facebook event page for the show here.

Here are the estimated set times for the show:
8:00 Look and Listen
8:40 Crying Nut
9:30 The Muffs

The Muffs Poster