Monthly Archives: February 2011

We Need Surgery — From Korea to the World

By Mark

Some fun news, via Korean Homesick Blues — apparently the long-time Hongdae band We Need Surgery is about to sign a three-album deal with 604 Records, with international distribution by Universal, produced by David Ogilvy. Nothing is signed yet, but they say contracts are on the way (and, as the 604 Facebook page mentions We Need Surgery, I guess things are looking good). Nicely done.

Now based in Vancouver, We Need Surgery added Mineri’s Lim Jung Gyu and left Korea last autumn. They were recording an album when they signed the deal, so now have to start over again… But working with Ogilvy is a pretty sweet problem to have.

You can hear Dave talk about the band and their deal at his latest Homesick podcast:

Help A Local Indie Make Strides Abroad

By Shawn Despres

This Saturday (February 26), Apollo 18 will be holding a special fundraiser gig at Live Club Ssam (Ssamzie Space) in Hongdae to help offset the expenses for their upcoming American tour.

Photo by Simon Bond

The Seoul post-hardcore and post-rock trio will tour the United States from March 15 – 27 and play 16 concerts in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. Included in their itinerary are stops at 25th annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival. A total of four Korean groups will appear at this year’s SXSW (Apollo 18, Galaxy Express, Vidulgi Ooyoo, and Idiotape). The renowned festival will feature nearly 2,000 acts performing over four days in Austin, Texas. Last year the massive event showcases bands from nearly 50 countries.

The cost of plane tickets, an American entertainer visa, renting a van and gas, etc. is very high, which is why Apollo 18 are having a fundraiser night  on Saturday.  Doors open at 6 pm and the show starts from 6:30 pm.  Apollo 18, Vassline, Art of Parties, SmackSoft, Tobacco Juice, Hanumpa, and Eshe & Navah will perform. The cover charge is 20,000 won (which includes a free copy of Apollo 18’s spiffy looking US tour CD) and 100% of the money collected at the door will be used to help finance the tour. The act will be selling their newly designed Apollo 18 t-shirts, too.

Here’s a promotional video Apollo 18 have made for February 26’s concert and set times for all the performances:

6:30 Eshe & Navah
7:00 Hanumpa
7:30 Tobacco Juice
8:00 SmackSoft
8:30 Art of Parties
9:00 Vassline
9:30 Apollo 18

After their U.S. tour, Apollo 18 will begin writing and recording their next album.  The plan is to have the disc out by the summer.  Putting a strong emphasis on establishing an international presence this year, the group intend to play in China and Japan in the coming months and hope to do more gigs in North America in the fall.

Here’s a promotional video for Apollo 18’s March American tour dates along with their U.S. schedule:

March 15 Dallas, TX – Double Wide
March 16 Austin, TX (6 pm) – DMI House @ 219 West (Day Party at the Dart Music International House)
March 16 Austin, TX (10:40 pm) – Headhunters (Official SXSW Showcase)
March 17 Austin, TX (6 pm) – Zhi Tea Gallery (Zhi Tea presents: SXZT!)
March 18 Austin, TX (4 pm) – Hoeks Death Metal Pizza
March 18 San Marcos, TX – Triple Crown
March 19 Austin, TX (1 pm) – Aussie’s ( Party)
March 20 Austin, TX (1 pm) – Cheer Up Charlie’s
March 20, San Antonio, TX – Night Rocker Live
March 21 New Orleans, LA – Dragon’s Den
March 22 Houston, TX – Super Happy Fun Land
March 23 Denton, TX – Andy’s Bar
March 24 Hot Springs, AR – Low Key Arts (The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival)
March 25 Memphis, TN – Stash House
March 26 Tulsa, OK – The Eclipse
March 27 Fort Worth, TX – 1919 Hemphill

There’s a small feature on Apollo 18 from SXSW’s website here.
There’s an interview with Apollo 18 in February’s Groove Korea here.
There’s a Korea Times interview with Apollo 18 and a story about the other K-indies visiting SXSW here.

May Festivals Shaping Up

By Dain

Is it too early to get excited about the summer music festivals? I know that they’re a long time away, but for those of you who like to plan ahead, mark the first three weekends of May on your calendar, as three consecutive weekends will host multi-day outdoor music events, each very different from the others.

The first concert event is Beautiful Mint Life (Facebook here), the second year for BML from the people at Mint Paper. Held up in Goyang, Gyeonggi province, this two-day event focuses on the more mellow genres, and although no acts have been announced yet, expect them soon. Beautiful Mint Life runs from Saturday, April 30 to Sunday, May 1. Advance tickets for both days cost 66,000 won, or 44,000 won/day at the gate.

The following weekend, May 6-8, sees the very popular World DJ Festival. In its 5th year, Korea’s premiere dance festival is moving away from the Han River to a newer, bigger venue in Yangpyeong, east of Seoul in Gyeonggi province.

The first line-up just released lists Jesse Jamz (USA), Freemasons (UK), Lazy Rich (Canada), Will Bailey (UK), D’Jamency (France), Dada Life (Sweden), Blatta & Inesha (Italy), as well as a host of Koreans acts, like Oriental Funk Stew and Planet Shiver. As usual, they also have a mix of hip hop, rock, and other acts, including Dok2, Guckkasten, Wiretap in My Ear, and Lee Sang-eun.

The early tickets have already gone, but they are selling one-, two-, and three-day tickets at a special rate until Feb. 28, so buy now. Their site has an English section, as well as a Facebook page.

Lastly, this year sees the return of the Green Plugged Festival. Launched last year, Green Plugged runs May 14-15 atop the beautiful grassy hill in Noeul Park, near the World Cup Stadium in western Seoul. About 100 artists are expected to perform, and so far they have announced big names in rock like Jaurim, Crying Nut, and No Brain, mellower performers like Ibadi and Winterplay, the funk and soul of Common Ground and Serengeti, the pop-rock of W&Whale, 9 and the Numbers, and Superkidd. While mostly a home-grown show, there will be a few international acts, with Japanese jazz-fusion band Paris Match announced so far.

Last year’s edition was a lot of fun (although they definitely needed a few more food options). Discounted tickets are on sale until March 2 for 30% off, at 61,600 won (only in Korean for now, but hopefully there will be an English website soon).

(Mark: Green Plugged also has a warm-up show at Soundholic City on March 5 at 6pm, with Superkidd, Ynot, Rock Tigers, and Common Ground).

We’ll have more information as these and the other events announce more acts, so start planning ahead to get your outdoor music fix. Bring on summer!

The Weekend Ahead

By Mark

Things are really picking up in the live music scene in Korea, now that the lunar New Year has passed. This weekend, there are a bunch of shows worth checking out, but my personal choices are:
– Cafe Bbang has a first-rate post-rock show on Saturday, featuring Sunkyeol, Vidulgi Ooyoo, and a rare show by Glittering Blackness Fall.
Jambinai, the strange post-rock group that uses Korean traditional instruments, is one of the groups playing Spot on Friday evening.
– FF is having its 7th anniversary, with a big lineup of acts on Friday and Saturday.
– Freebird has a mix of Japanese and Korean bands on Saturday evening.
– Mansion is hosting a party on Friday for the coming “SeoulSonic” tour of North America by Galaxy Express, Vidulgi Ooyoo, and Idiotape. For Friday’s show, those bands will by joined by Crying Nut and the Rock Tigers, so it is a pretty solid lineup.

* * *
Btw, I just realized that I have not mentioned Dave Candler’s KOREAN HOMESICK BLUES since his website got started last fall. He has now posted 33 episodes of his podcast, so there is a pretty good collection of music that he has built up. If you are looking for an easy way to hear and learn about the best of the Korean indie scene, Korean Homesick Blues is a great choice.

* * *

I just came across “Pacific,” a new song by Byul (actually, I think it might be six months old, but I still like it). I think it is one of their best songs in years. Very Joy Division-y, very catchy.


Liars, Liars, KMRB on Fire

By Mark

Another tough break for Supercolorsuper, as they have been forced to cancel their Liars shows this weekend. Apparently someone filed a complaint with the Korea Media Ratings Board, which needs to sign off on all live shows by foreign performers so the artist can get a visa — and without the KMRB’s clearance, the Liars could not go on.

Sean says that the events will still open, and instead he is going to have a couple of local bands and deejays play for a reduced amount — 20,000 won in Seoul, 15,000 on Busan — and try to raise some money for SCS (as he still has to pay the venue and the band, which came all the way to Korea and would have played, if they were allowed). And I think the band, or at least some members, should be on hand, just hanging out (no instruments and definitely not performing, sadly).

Anyhow, a tough break. But hopefully they will be able to work things out in the future, so they do not have this problem again. And hopefully whoever called the KMRB in the first place will fall down on something pointy.

Seollal Shows

By Mark

Usually for the weekend around Seollal, lunar new year, the fun really drops off, at least for concerts. But this Saturday seems pretty solid to me. While the calendar has a bunch of shows, I would point out:
– the 7080 show at Soundholicity. I do not know much about the bands playing there, but I am a big fan of that era’s Korean music.
– the Funkafric & Boostdah show at Rainbow, in Gangnam. Funkafric & Boostdah are one of my favorite Korean bands (sometimes my all-out favorite), with a retro-70s groove and hairstyles to match. The last time I saw them playing, way back in 2009, it was the best show of the year.

And in other music-related thoughts:
– Plenty of international acts beginning to be announced. I just added MGMT, Fran Healy, Azure Ray, and the Eagles to the calendar. That is an addition to the already announced Elvis Costello, Slash, Taylor Swift, Eric Clapton, Whitest Boy Alive, Santana, Corine Bailey Rae, and Four Play. Not a bad couple of months for Western music.
– Is there really a band called Number Nine (아홉번째)? When one of the hottest bands around is 9 and the Numbers (9와 숫자들)? Very strange overlap.

Mucking With the Calendar

By Mark

Hi all. I was just messing around with the cpanel and some other internal stuff on the site. Nothing too fancy, but pushing the sad limits of my coding knowledge.

Anyhow, I think the calendar might be a little easier to read now. But if you dislike the new layout, please let me know. Or if there is something wrong and you cannot read the calendar at all, really let me know.

Thanks much.