Monthly Archives: August 2010

R-O-C-K in the D-P-R-K

By Mark

Now that our friends in North Korea are embracing the Internet, I just had to post this Youtube video of a couple of kids* and their very cool drumming. Mad drum solos at the 1:30 mark**. Enjoy it before someone in the South Korean government says you are a subversive and communist sympathizer for watching.

*(Actually, given the disparity in heights between the North and South, these two kids could be 20 years old, for all I know).
**(Well, since there are two people drumming, I guess technically they are not “solos”. But you get the idea).

Feel Like Dancing? Global Gathering Returns…

By Dain

Yes!, Global Gathering, the big dance music festival, has returned to Korea.  It is taking place Oct. 9 at the same venue as last year, Hangang Park, in Nanji, near World Cup Stadium in western Seoul.

The first lineup has been announced, and the biggest name is FAT BOY SLIM! Otherwise known as Norman Cook, he helped pioneer the big beat movement of the late 1990s and has continued to DJ and produce ever since. Starting out in the Housemartin’s (old folks like me might remember “The Caravan of Love”), and Beats International before he discovered dance music, he has released a range of albums as Fat Boy Slim, among other names.   He moved away from Big Beat and worked with such names as David Byrne, and has remixed acts like Beastie Boys, Corner Shop and A Tribe Called Quest.

Also playing is the man often called “the world’s No. 1 DJ”, Arimin Van Buureen, and popular French duo Justice.  Local acts Soulscape, Ideotape and many more will also be playing, too. Tickets are 66,000 won if you buy before the 31st. Head here for more information.

Hippies, Reggae and the Countryside

By Mark

Here is an odd little event I ran across. Apparently this weekend there is some kind of hippy-ish reggae music festival, going on way out in the countryside of Gangwon Province, called Mystic Vibration. The event, a “reggae soundsystem festival” goes from Friday to Sunday, and features a lot of reggae, dub and world music, both live and deejayed.

You can camp or stay in a guesthouse, stay or two days or three, and the weekend costs 30-50,000 won accordingly.

I do not know much about the people organizing this event, but it looks very DIY, and I think it is related to the folks at Obeg (the Hongdae bar). I assume that you should tread carefully if you do not know Korean. But if you know Korean or if you have friends who do, and you are looking for something different and funky, this could be a really interesting event.

Despite all the noise the K-pop makes, I have long thought that if a Korean act were to break through into mainstream Western culture, it would probably come from the alternative scene. And I think the Korean reggae dub scene is dynamic enough and strange enough that it could be the source of the breakthrough. I think I&I Djangdan has broken up, but Kim Bangjang and his side projects live on, as do the many like-minded people who are into that scene.

So, if you are looking for something different and are comfortable with the language, this could be a lot of fun.

(Click on the poster to enlarge.)

Kite Operations’ Kim Performing At Cocore Watering Holes

By Shawn Despres

Tonight (August 13), Korean American Joseph Kim will be playing two intimate solo concerts in Hongdae at Sunshine and Vinyl. Joseph is the guitarist for New York noise-rock and free-jazz quartet Kite Operations. The band toured South Korea in 2007. Joseph has spent the last few months visiting here, but will be returning back to the States soon.

Opened last week, Sunshine is a bar operated by The Sagitta‘s Lee Woosung and Lee Jungeun. Woosung is also a guitarist in Cocore and Jungeun serves as the act’s manager. Cocore bassist Kim Jaekwon is one of the co-owners of the popular cocktail pit stop Vinyl. Kite Operations shared a bill with Cocore during their 2007 tour and Joseph printed one of the group’s first English interviews on his K.O.A. Zine (which also has interviews with some other great local indie musicians so check it out!).

Joseph will perform at Sunshine at 8 p.m. and at Vinyl at 9 p.m. Both gigs are free and he will likely play for around 25 minutes at each venue. He says, “some of the songs will come from Kite Operations’ catalog and some songs will come from my back catalog of material. It’ll be mellow, and hopefully bring the melodic elements of my and my band’s music upfront and center.”

Here’s a video from a recent concert Joseph did at the Dooriban Restaurant in Hongdae.

Sunshine is located between Sangsu Station (exit 1) and the parking street. Vinyl is located between Sangsu Station and Hongik University just before the side street that Club Ta and FF are on.

And More Festivals — August and Into the Autumn

By Dain

Just because the three biggest music festivals of the summer have passed does not mean that festival season is winding down. Not at all. In fact, there are plenty of great music events still coming over the next three months, beginning this weekend with the 12th edition of the Dongducheon Rock Festival.

In its 12 years, Dongducheon Rock fest has hosted the cream of Korean rock, metal and punk acts along with international rock acts like Megadeth and Anthrax. This year, it looks like the glam rockers LA Guns will be headlining on Sunday, or so says the band’s Myspace page. Hard to say, though, since the festival’s (highly buggy) website has no mention of the band yet.

(Mark’s note: Faster Pussycat’s website says that band will be playing, too, but on Saturday. However, there is no information on the Dongducheon website, and the schedule seems fully booked. John Corabi might be playing, too. I have no idea).

But here is what I do know – the Dongducheon Festival is on this weekend, over Saturday and Sunday. It is held at Soyosan Tourist Resort, in Dongducheon, north Gyeonggi Province. The lineup so far has OXEN 80, Kim Mok Kyung Band, Seoul Electric Band, Crying Nut, YB, PIA, Blackhole, Kim Su Cheol Band, Diablo, Crow, Transfixion, and more.

On top of all that, admission is free! To get to the site, just take subway line No. 1 north to Soyosan station, then it should be walkable in just 5 minutes.

Another music festival I ran across in my online travels I found the 2010 VIVA ROCK FESTIVAL. This one is taking place at Vivaldi Ski Resort on the first weekend of September. Friday costs 40,000 won, Saturday 50,000 and both days together cost the bargain price of 60,000 won. The lineup is half announced, but seems to have room for many more, and includes the return of Jaurim, Japanese metal legends Seikima 2, N.E.X.T., Loudness, Common Ground, acoustic duo 10cm, Ballad singers SG Wannabe. Check here for details, and we’ll have a detailed preview closer to the weekend.

Other festivals coming include:
Let’s Spris (Han River Park, Oct. 2)
Jarasum Jazz Festival (Gapyeong, Oct. 14-17)
Grand Mint (Olympic Park, Oct. 23-24)

More Than Music in Hongdae

By Mark

While this blog concentrate on live music in Korea, there are some other events I like to mention from time to time. Like in August in Hongdae, there is both the Seoul International New Media Festival and the Seoul Fringe Festival.

The Seoul International New Media Festival, now is its 10th year, runs Aug. 5-14 at four venues around Hongdae (and one in Sangam), and features a wide range of mixed media (even a bit of music). The website has a decent description of the films and a map in English. You can also learn more about it here.

The 13th Seoul Fringe Festival runs Aug. 12-28, all over Hongdae (around 45 locations, depending on how you count them). It features all sorts odd and unusual acts, in art, music, dance and other activities that really do not have a name. Sadly there is no English up on their website yet, but hopefully there will be some articles on the festival in English for you soon (or I might have to translate from the website myself).

Peace in DMZ Goes to Pieces

By Mark

To nobody’s surprise, it seems there will be no Peace in the DMZ concert next weekend. The only thing I find surprising is that it took the organizers so long to announce what everyone had long suspected.

Peace in the DMZ had faced a lot of troubles from the beginning. They lost a couple of big investors when Artie Kornfeld told them they could not use “Woodstock” in the name of the festival (which, given that the organizer called itself Woodstock Korea and used the Woodstock URL, they apparently really wanted to use). The lineup of bands was a strange jumble that did not really make sense together. But I do find it amazing that in 2010, we are still having this basic, ugly concert problems in Korea.

Now the big question is, will Kanye West really be performing at the Summer Week&T concert in Naksan Beach this weekend? He is still listed on the posters and website, but there is no signs of any mention on Kanye West’s websites, Myspace page, Facebook page, etc. Hopefully it is just an oversight. I find it hard to believe that SK Telecom (a cosponsor of Summer Week&T) would attach their name to an event that misleads about its lineup.

(UPDATE: I just saw Kanye West mention traveling to Korea on his Twitter feed, so I feel a lot more confident about his show now.)

* * *

Oh, the Jisan Valley Rock Festival last weekend was a lot of fun. I was there on Friday and had quite a good time. The concert site is pretty far from Seoul (and organizers definitely need more signage at the bus station … and more shuttle buses), but it is a very picturesque location.

3rd Line Butterfly played soon after I got there, and were their usual solid selves (although 3:40pm and in sunshine is not really their ideal slot). Martina Topley-Bird was really good — a wonderful voice and delightful stage presence.

After enjoying the excellent Belle & Sebastian, I found a good seat at the back, by the food stalls but with a good view of the stage, and basically sat there for the rest of the evening. But I am old, so unapologetic about being lazy.

Best of all, all the advertised bands showed up and performed. What a crazy concept.

Anyhow, Jisan is clearly the top music festival in Korea now, in term of acts, professionalism, turnout and general ambiance. There is a decent write-up about how Jisan went over here.

UPDATE: There is a much fuller and more interesting overview of Jisan over at this blog. He mostly seemed to like it, although he thought the lineup was not as good as Fuji Rock. But to defend Jisan Valley — Fuji Rock has 13 stages, gets well over 100,000 people and costs 39,800 yen (or 550,000 won, or $450), so of course they get more. Korea is still building its festival scene and I think you are going to see more and better festivals in the future.