Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Courage of Their Evictions

By Mark

The biggest show in town this weekend by far is the New Town Culture Party all day on May 1, with 51 bands over 60 bands scheduled to appear. With so many bands playing, just about the whole indie scene is going to be there, including 3rd Line Butterfly, Byul, Baik Hyun-jhin, Cocore, I&I Djangdan and Anakin Project.

The show has a couple of purposes — to celebrate the 120th anniversary of May Day (really), and to protest the demolition of the popular Dooriban restaurant. Apparently a big area around the restaurant is being “redeveloped,” for the construction of the Incheon Airport train line, a big train station, and who knows what else. I do not care much about the politics of the show, but it has a pretty impressive lineup that it totally worth supporting.

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The show begins at noon and is scheduled to go until 3am, with three stages playing music all day long (you can get the full schedule, in English, here). Tickets are 5,100 won in advance or 12,000 won at the door.

To get to the concert site, go out Hongik University Subway Station entrance No. 4 (toward Sinchon and the Rinnai building), and walk straight about 100 meters, until you get to the big redevelopment zone. On the KGG map, it would be in the lower left-hand corner.

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UPDATE: Since I actually used to live in that neighborhood, I thought I would add my twenty won. Hard to believe that construction on the subway and station in that area began over four years ago (maybe even nearing five). It was a pretty quiet place, fairly secure (thanks to former President Kim Dae-jung living nearby). I think the last of the two-story homes along the  train tracks was converted into a “villa” five years ago. The coffee and clothing shops mostly moved in since then.

But I recall being greeted to the sounds of heavy machinery right outside my window, ripping out the old train tracks that used to run through the area and then boring deep into the ground. It was very annoying and loud, but if, as the promotional pictures claim, the old train track space is turned into parkland when the construction is finally finished, it could be quite a nice addition to the city.

The area around Dooriban was more sketchy. There used to be a very dubious veterinary clinic there, with an ancient veterinarian. Very friendly guy, but he was not exactly up to date on the latest in animal medicine. Probably for the best he is gone. There was a very good noodle shop there for a while, too (I am more sad that it is gone), a salsa studio, and plenty more. Going back further, there used to be a couple of great pojangmacha, too, and it was good fun to drink with your friends in the wee hours, as the occasional train went slowly chugging by.

While it is sad that a much-loved restaurant and other locations are getting torn down, this construction project really shows the two sides of Korean development — the forces that destroy Korea’s coolest stuff are often the same forced that created that cool stuff in the first place.

People are usually well aware that construction projects are slated for a neighborhood at some point in the future (sometimes years in advance), which lowers deposits and rental prices there, especially as the development gets closer. And with rental prices low, that brings in the artists. Of course, you also have the more common kind of gentrification, too — artists go to cheap, lousy neighborhood, make it chic, which leads to development, higher prices, and all the artists leaving. But often in Korea, the development plan comes first, and the people in a development area know they are living on borrowed time.

Anyhow, whatever Dooriban’s story is, I hope you check out the concerts this weekend and have a great time. Wish I could be there.

The Plastic 18 … Apollo Day … ?

By Shawn Despres

Two talented trios, Seoul’s The Plastic Day and Ilsan’s Apollo 18, are pairing up for a co-headlining gig at Live Club Ssam (Ssamzie Space) in Hongdae on Saturday, May 1. The Plastic Day’s “30 Seconds Between The Dreamer And The Realist” and Apollo 18′s “[0] Album” (or “The Blue Album”) were my two favourite Korean albums of 2009.

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The bands will set up their equipment next to one another and will take turns playing short sets of material. While both are promising to play more than 60 minutes of their own rock cuts, the real fun will come when they mix and match members. Apollo 18′s bassist Dae Inn and drummer Sang Yoon will back The Plastic Day’s guitarist Sun Ho for several songs. Returning the favour, The Plastic Day’s bassist Ho Seong and drummer Yun Beom will join with Apollo 18′s guitarist Hyun Seok.

Here’s a teaser video the acts have made for the gig:

Doors at Live Club Ssam (Ssamzie Space) will open at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night and the concert will start from 7 p.m. Tickets are 15,000 won at the door.

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Something Glittering At The Carnival

By Shawn Despres

Presented by Seoul imprint Estella Records, the two-day Lotus Carnival brings together a top-notch lineup of the label’s acts and like-minded artists for shows at Club Spot in Hongdae on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25.

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Although I’m looking forward to most of the performances, my personal pick for must-see band is Glittering Blackness, Fall. Scheduled to play on both days of Lotus Carnival, the gigs will be the Daejeon group’s first live appearances in Seoul since November 2008.

“Well there isn’t any specific reason why we don’t play a lot of shows,” offers keyboardist Yang. “We usually practice one day a week so it is difficult to set up shows. We were mainly focused on recording our EP last year.”

According to Yang, organizing more concerts and making new songs are priorities for Glittering Blackness, Fall in the coming months. Formed in 2005, they issued their debut EP in January. The untitled effort boasts five nameless cuts of post-rock goodness.

“We felt that it would be better to leave people free to think after listening to our music than to make people feel what we want them to feel through song titles,” explains Yang.

The band began working on the EP’s compositions shortly after their formation and spent two years fine tuning the tracks before recording them in their practice space. The CD can be purchased at Hyang Music in Sinchon or directly from the group. All of the disc’s songs can be downloaded for free on Last.fm as well.

“We think that people will buy the CD if they want to listen to good quality music or will want to get the CD after listening to our MP3s,” Yang says.

Glittering Blackness, Fall will be performing different sets on April 24 and April 25 as part of Lotus Carnival at Club Spot. 49 Morphines, Apollo 18, Vidulgi Ooyoo, Da Pluto, First Breath After Coma, and more will also play. Tickets for Saturday cost 15,000 won and music starts from 6:30 p.m. Things will get underway at 3 p.m. on Sunday and entrance is 25,000 won.

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More Jisan Valley

By Mark

The Jisan Valley Rock Festival has announced another round of acts for this year’s music fest — Vampire Weekend, Corinne Bailey Rae, Kula Shaker, Martina Topley-Bird and Diane Birch are the latest to join the lineup.

That is in addition to the already announced Belle & Sebastian, Massive Attack and Muse. Local acts include 3rd Line Butterfly, Moonshiners, Guckkasten, Schizo, Taru, Yi Sung Yol, Jaeju Sonyeon, Mate and Art of Parties.

Very nice to see so many solid women singers on the bill this year.

This year’s Jisan Valley Festival takes place July 30-August 1. More info about acts, how to buy tickets, etc. to come as soon as we can get it. (UPDATE: I just checked out Jisan’s Facebook page, which says that tickets go on sale April 27 at 5pm. More info at Interpark, in English, too).
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Absolutley 4King Great Party — Hongdae’s Biggest Names 2Gether 4 1 Night

By Dain

This Sunday, April 25, 4 very independent, influential and great Korean bands play at SoundHoliCity (aka, Soundholic). Lowdown 30, 3rd Line Butterfly, Seoul Electric Band and Cocore are joining 4ces to help you kickstart the week with the “Absolutely 4King Great Party.”

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All 4 acts are highly respected veterans of the Korean music scene and have succeeded by doing things on their own terms, which, lucky for all of us, also means consistently delivering on stage. The level of musicianship, passion and variety on show make this party hard to resist.

Blues driven power trio Lowdown30, led by the very talented Yoon ByungJu on lead guitar and vocals, are one of the catchiest bands in Korea.

Cocore are nearly synonymous with independent music in Korea, having been on the scene for over 13 years. These indie legends cover so many bases that each live gig brings surprises, and they are continuing to evolve their sound. Last year’s album Relax displayed a growing range of influences and styles and contained one of the most appropriately named songs I have heard in a while, “Mo Yo Ass.”

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Seoul Electric Band need little introduction after cleaning up at the Korean Music Awards for their 2nd album, last year’s Life Is Strange. This psychedelic rock trio, led by guitarist/singer Shin Yoonchul, are as humble as they are talented, and definitely do it for the love of performing. Few can deny the power and intensity of an SEB show.

Here is a live performance of them performing their song “내게 왜냐고 묻는다면”.

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3rd Line Butterfly returned last year after a 4-year hiatus with a new EP, the re-release of their first 3 albums, and a return to the live circuit. Comprised of members from some of the best Hongdae bands of the 1990s (Huckleberry Finn, Pipi Band, and 99) 3rd Line Butterfly delivers haunting and lush melodies that ebb and flow. The 3-piece band (who flesh out their live sound with two touring members) combines their individual talents to showcase original and independent music at its best.

The 4King Great Party begins at 6pm on Sunday night at SoundHoliCity in Hongdae. Tickets are 20,000 won in advance (you can buy them here – Korean only, sorry) or 25,000 won at the door.

It’s Crying Nut’s Party … and They’ll Rock if They Want to

By Dain

Next weekend, April 23-24, sees Korean indie icons Crying Nut celebrate their 15th anniversary with two concerts. Since forming in 1995, they have become the biggest independent band in Korean history (or at least one of the biggest, depending on how you measure these things: Mark). After last year’s excellent and diverse 6th album, “An Inconvenient Party”, they are showing no sign of slowing down.

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On both nights an array of friends will help them to celebrate their 15 years of rocking. With 6 albums of material, they have a lot to choose from, PLUS they will be joined by the Kim Chang Wan Band, Seoul Electric Band, Galaxy Express, Black Hole, YB, and The Moonshiners. Both shows are at the Mapo Art Center (the map is only in Korean, sorry), and begin at 7:30 on Friday and 5pm on Saturday.

To help get you excited, here are 2 music videos; one of their earliest, “Magic Circus” and one of their most recent, shot at DGDB, “An Inconvenient Party.”

Green Plugged Heats Up Summer Concert Season

By Dain
Along with the two previously announced multi-day music festivals (The World DJ Fest and The Beautiful Mint Life Fest), the announcement of the Green Plugged two-day music fest tells us that summer’s outdoor music season is about to begin.
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Organized by Hongdae club veteran Soundholic, Green Plugged will run May 21-22 at Noeul Park, near World Cup Stadium. There is a HUGE line up, including punk (Crying Nut, No Brain), rock (YB, Kim Chang Wan Band), indie rock (Guckkasten, Moonshiners), hiphop (Outsider, MC Sniper), poppier acts (Clazziquai, W & Whale, etc), and many others (over 50 acts announced so far!).

There will be five stages, which could mean longer sets than the usual 20 minutes bands often get at these festivals. Tickets are of course, cheaper if you buy earlier, so don’t delay. May is gearing up to be a busy month. (Note: The website promises English, Japanese and Chinese information, but as of yet they are not active – Mark)

On a side note, congratulations to the winners at the Korea Music Awards, with Apollo 18 and Guckkasten sharing the Best New Act award, and Seoul Electric Band winning three prizes with their second album Life is Strange. SEB won Best Rock act, Musician of the Year and Best Overall Album. They will be celebrating their success with gigs on April 9 (at Club Ta), April 16 (at Blue Spirit) and April 25 (Soundholic).

The Newest Hope…Whatever That Means

By Jon Dunbar

This weekend all the excitement should be at Club Spot, where …Whatever That Means will be releasing their first EP, full of melodic punk tracks from this American/Korean band.


Anybody find it a little unsettling that husband-and-wife Jeff and Trash are depicted here as brother-and-sister Luke and Leia? Better keep an eye on that rhythm guitarist Alex Solo.

It wouldn’t be a punk show without a long roster of bands.
Band Schedule:
530: Chadburger
600: Kickscotch
635: Rux
710: Yellow Puffer
745: The Rance
820: SkaSucks
855: Today Spot
930: No.1 Korean
1005: …Whatever That Means
That works out to roughly 1000 won per band and an additional 2000 for a CD.

And if you miss it this week or can’t afford 12 000 won, they’re having an Itaewon CD release show next Saturday at Stompers with No. 1 Korean, Skrew Attack, and the Strikers, and cover is free.