Monthly Archives: March 2009

“Can You Feel The Love Tonight”

By Shawn Despres

The launch party for Canadian dancer Eshe’s new monthly belly dance event, Love Dance, will take place on Saturday, April 4 at Bowie in Hongdae. Eshe is the belly dancer for local folk act Orgeltanz and has performed with Cocore and at experimental music showcase Bulgasari. Orgeltanz accordionist and vocalist Marca Marco recently gave birth to a baby girl so the band is taking a short break making it an opportune time for Eshe to start Love Dance.

Love Dance will also feature Eshe’s student troupe, Navah, who recently participated in two fantastic charity events, the Wild Women Performing Arts Festival and the Corea Peace Arts Festival.

Love Dance’s April 4 opening will include guest contributions from E-Bellydance’s Lee Ju Yeon and Wakako from the highly respected Tokyo dance troupe Samanyolu. Samanyolu danced at last summer’s famed Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.

Love Dance will have three sets of belly dancing from 7 – 10 p.m. and the cover charge is 10,000 won. Subsequent editions of Love Dance will run on the first Saturday of each month. “Shimmy shimmy ya, shimmy yam, shimmy yay …”


Come All Ye Faithful

By Shawn Despres

On March 28 the 2nd annual Asia Metal Festival is taking place at Sangsang Madang Live Hall. It’s well recommended that all metalheads attending get plenty of rest and take their vitamins beforehand to help keep their endurance up for six-and-a-half-hours of headbanging, throwing up devil horns, and for the more zealous devouts, moshing along to the wide range of loud, aggressive anthems being presented.

Japan’s Devour and Shady Glimpse, Taiwan’s Emerging From The Cocoon, and Hong Kong’s Evocation are scheduled to appear alongside locals Hunter’s Moon, Oathean, Method, Legend, Mahatma, Baekdoosan, and Mad Fret. I’m mostly looking forward to checking out all-gal hardcore quintet Mad Fret, who released their first full-length album, Smash The Lie, late last year. Asia Metal Festival’s MySpace site has songs and live videos from most of the performers. It also has photos of the “Hell was full so I came back” official t-shirt for the event.

Tickets for the Asia Metal Festival are 25,000 won in advance and 30,000 won at the door. There’s info for purchasing advance tickets on their MySpace.

Here are the set times for Saturday’s metal marathon:
4:30 – 4:55 Hunter’s Moon (Melodic Death Metal)
5:05 – 5:30 Legend (Melodic Power Metal)
5:40 – 6:05 Devour (Melodic Death/ Black Metal)
6:15 – 6:40 Mad Fret (Hardcore)
6:50 – 7:15 Emerging From The Cocoon (Death Core)
7:25 – 7:50 Method (New Wave/ Thrash Metal)
8:00 – 8:25 Evocation (Symphonic Black Metal)
8:35 – 9:00 Mahatma (Thrash Metal)
9:10 – 9:35 Shady Glimpse (Hardcore)
9:45 – 10:10 Oathean (Progressive Extreme Metal)
10:20 – 11:00 Baekdoosan (Heavy Metal)


Midway Through Their Mission

By Shawn Despres

I’ve wanted to write something about Korean trio Apollo 18 for almost a month-and-a-half now, but unfortunately have been swamped with other things.

I first came across the act in early February when they played at Badabie with The Plastic Day and
Juck Juck Grunge. Sun Ho from The Plastic Day was standing outside the tiny live space when I arrived and said Apollo 18 were just starting and that maybe they would be pretty good. Talk about a huge understatement. The band were awesome and left me slack-jawed with their self-described sonic hybrid of “Hardrock + Groove + Psychedelic +…” Mixing atmospheric post-rock with bits of fast-paced, hardcore-infused rock, their fantastic set was one of the best gigs I’ve witnessed in ’09 thus far and had everyone (paying customers and fellow musicians) hollering their approval after every loud cut.

The group released their debut self-titled EP on February 12 through local imprint Estella Records. While the EP is a solid listen, if they play like they did at Badabie all the time, these guys truly need to be seen live to get the full Apollo 18 experience.

Apollo 18 have been playing concerts every weekend since February 13 as part of their Sympathy Tour to promote the EP. Although more than half of the shows are finished, dates are scheduled up until the end of April so interested parties still have several opportunities to catch them before the tour finishes. They’ll be performing on March 28 at Club FreeBird, March 29 at Ruby Salon, April 4 at FF, April 11 at Club Spot, April 18 at Live Club Ssam, and the “tour final” will take place on April 25 @ DGBD.

There’s a short “teaser” for the EP and a video for its opening track, “Pause 00,” here.

Apollo 18’s MySpace hasn’t been updated in a while, but is streaming a song that’s not on the EP and has live footage of another non-album number.


See You Soon!

By Shawn Despres

Saturday night’s gig by Seoul melodic skate punks Gumx will be a little more special than usual. Bassist Keunyoung Lee will soon be relocating to Tokyo and this will be his last show before the move.

Please note, this will *NOT* be his final concert with Gumx. The trio have been kicking around for nearly a decade now and have no plans to stop playing together anytime soon. On last year’s “Old” CD guitarist and vocalist Yongwon Lee sang about how he hopes the group will still be together when they are 60. Seeing as how all the members are currently in their late 20s they still have a lot of great music to make together.

Speaking of which, Gumx will shortly be releasing a new EP in Japan through the Toy’s Factory label. Japan is a much bigger market for the act so with any luck, having Keunyoung based there will help open up some more avenues for them. A song from the EP was debuted during their recent opening stint for Tokyo’s Nicotine at Sangsang Madang Live Hall so there’s a pretty good chance some more material from it may surface in Saturday’s set. There are photos and a short English review from their Sangsang Madang gig on Japanese web site Smashing Mag.

The Strikers will join Gumx at Club Spot on Saturday night. The show starts at 11 p.m. and cover is 20,000 won. Keunyoung plans to fly back to Korea whenever Gumx has shows, but I’m guessing it’ll probably be a few months before local fans have the chance to see the band perform again which should be some extra incentive to get out to this concert.

If anyone is interested in reading more about Gumx, here’s an article I wrote about the guys last spring for The Japan Times.


Have a Shkt Fit This Weekend

Lots and lots going on this weekend. Reggae party with I&I Djangdan at 500 (Obeg) on Saturday night. A Beatles tribute at Freebird. And a great selection of gigs outside of Seoul, in case you live elsewhere on the peninsula.

One gig that should be good is the latest SHK SHKT, with its usual eclectic mix of live music and DJs. Juck Juck Haeseo Grunge and Ankle Attack are the bands this time around. I am less up on the DJs, but the SHK SHKT usually brings a solid mix of fun and interesting. Not to mention it is one of the cheapest shows around.

Plus, this SHK SHKT has one of the more funky looking invitations that I have seen in some time.


SHK SHKT starts at 9:30 and goes all night. Bowie is located halfway between Hongdae and Shinchon, across the street from the Sanullim Theater.

Giving Y’all The Fist

By Shawn Despres

Seoul-based expat indie rockers The Fist released their new CD, “Godblessmess,” at the end of February. Most music fans know that it can be a bit of a challenge to hunt down albums by local bands in Korea. The Fist have made things a whole lot easier by putting a link on their MySpace page ( to download “Godblessmess” for free. Check it out if you’re interested.


Pyongyang Hardcore Resistance

Okay, I am pretty sure this band must be a hoax, but it is odd enough that I present it to you anyway.

Pyongyang Hardcore Resistance claims to be a “breakcore” band out of North Korea. The Myspace page author claims there are two people making these tapes in Pyongyang, then the music is smuggled out of the country by refugees.


It all seems pretty unlikely to me. But the idea is amusing nonetheless. And the Myspace page has a download link, so you can listen to more of PHR’s music… whoever it is that is really making it.

Now, if only we could list their live shows on the Gig Guide…

쓰레기산/Trash Mountain Urbex Photo Exhibition

By Jon Dunbar

You can see some cool photos taken by Blakey Bear, a guy you may have noticed if you’ve ever caught the very unusual local foreigner act Literallies. Come to Gallery Sogool this Saturday for a selection of his urban exploration photos.

Highlighted will be Trash Mountain, his own nickname for the area south of Ahyeon Station that is being demolished for urban renewal. You can also see photos of the infamous San-Zhi pod hotels of Pashawan Resort, Taiwan, as well as abandoned photos from his home country the US.

Never heard of urban exploration before? It’s the name for the exploration of abandoned, underground, or forbidden places, of which there is no shortage in this country.

Facebook event entry

Trash Mountain Poster

Thursday Nights at Mudaeryuk

Mudaeryuk has long been one of my favorite bars in Hongdae, with its good music, good vibes, good beer (Alley Kat Pale Ale on tap), and good art. And now there is another reason to enjoy Mudaeryuk — Thursday night concerts.

Mudaeryuk is not a huge venue, but it does have the advantage of being on the second floor. Most live clubs in Seoul are stuck down in dank basements, which does little for their atmosphere. Second floor with big windows is a nice change of pace. It is a pretty mellow place, a coffee shop by day then turning more bar-like in the evening. It usually has some artwork on the walls, too. Consider it the anti-FF (no boneheads, please).

Shows begin at 8pm and cost 10,000 won. Here is the first month’s lineup:

March 5 – folk rock – Kim Hwan-hyung, Choi Sae-bom and Siwa

March 12 – experimental – Itta & Marqido, angela & scott

March 19 – electronic – Amateur Amplifier, Seungha

March 26- rock – Choi Yun-seong, Gregory, Vas

Then in April, it looks like the lineup will be getting even cooler, as several “name” acts are supposed to be coming — people like Smacksoft and Nam Sang-ah. Should be a lot of fun. And with so many concerts in Seoul crammed together on the weekends, it is nice to have something happening during the week.

If you want to find Mudaeryuk,it is on the second floor of a small building on the south end of Hongdae, between Sangsu Station and the parking lot street. I will add it to the map page soon.

UPDATE: My attempt to update the map is failing miserably. But if you want to find Mudaeryuk, look on the current map for Rolling Hall pushpin; Mudaeryuk is located around the very top of the Rolling Hall pushpin.