Monthly Archives: August 2011

Feeling Sick of It All?

By Jon

The Korean underground scene is starting the fall season off with something big: NYHC veterans Sick of It All are heading to Korea in celebration of their 25th anniversary and the release of their album “Based on a True Story.” The band is doing a short East Asian tour in only Korea and Japan.

Backing them up will be accomplished Korean hardcore bands the Geeks, Johnny Royal, and Burn My Bridges. The show starts at 7:30pm on Friday, with the headliners set to take the stage around 10pm, so if you can’t get to Sangsang Madang in time for the start of the show, there’s still more to look forward to.

For more information and to book advance tickets, click here.

Fall Festivals Are Gearing Up!

By Dain

With the excitement of the many summer music festivals seemingly over, there are still at least four music fests occurring over the next few months for Korean music lovers.

For starters, there is “Let’s Rock Festival 2011,” the 5th installment of this popular event.  This year sees the fun spread over two days (Sep 24-25) and it is staying along the Han River at Nanji Park.  Whilst essentially a rock fest, they tend to mix it up a little, and the first of three line ups has revealed a nice variety of bands – YB, No Brain, Guckkasten, The Black Skirts, Transfixion, Urban Zakapa, Daybreak, J Rabbit, Pia, Dear Cloud, The Koxx, Monni, Wiretap In My Ear, The Moonshiners, Boohwal, and Bye Bye Sea are locked in.  As always, you can expect some poppy surprises – the likes of Psy and Big Bang have graced the stage at previous fests.  Tickets are on sale now with an early bird discount of 40,000 won for both days, check the official site for regular updates.

The 13th Ssamzie Organic Sound Festival will take place on October 2.  There aren’t many details about the fest yet, but there should be info on the official site soon.

For those more dance-minded, world renown event “Global Gathering” makes its 3rd visit to Korea and has just released their initial line up.  International acts Groove Armada, Digitalism, and Yolanda Be Cool join Korean bands, DJs, and electronic artists such as Idiotape, The Koxx, Mongoose, Glencheck, Spyradio, 360 Sounds, East Collective, Astro Voize, Bagagee Viphex13, KINGMCK, MagicoToDisco, and Limzi.  Tickets are available for 77,000 won and go up intermittently until the October 8th event, where a door ticket will cost you 110,000 won.  The official page and their Facebook page seems to offer regular updates, and G.G. 2011 is also taking place at Nanji Park along the Han River.

Last, but not least, is the 5th anniversary of the Grand Mint Festival taking place at Olympic Park October 24-25.  With two lineups revealed, it seems to be a “Best of” from the last four years, with a few international acts amongst the many Korean performers.

Saturday has The Black Skirts, Jaurim, Serengeti, 10CM, Alex, Cold Cherry, Dear Cloud, The Finn, Gom PD & Friends, Loro’s, Monni, Park Sol, Peppertones, Russian Red, Thomas Cook, Yozoh, Jang Yoon Ju, and the Grand Mint Band.

Sunday  is equally busy with Achime, Delispice, Guckkasten, Lee Han Choul, The Koxx, Sister’s Barbershop, Tahiti 80, Soran, Sweet Sorrow, Urban Zakapa, Daybreak, Depapepe, Hot Potato, JK Kim Dong Wook, Lee Juck, and Oksangdalbit.

GMF will announce more acts on Sep 6.

Let’s Rock, Global Gathering, and GMF are selling tickets now, and its cheaper to get in early, so why delay?  Yes24 and Interpark both have English sites for buying concert tickets.   Click on the links to check them out.

Adios Guitar Men & Hippie Girls

By Shawn Despres

Hongdae bar Guitar Men & Hippie Girls will be closing up shop at the end of this month.  Wanting to end things on a high note, the intimate venue will be hosting three goodbye gigs this weekend.

Tonight (August 26), Starry-Eyed, Humpbacks, and Romantica will perform.  Romantica is a new instrumental rock act that features  former members of Oriental Lucy.  Bellydancer Eshe will be joining the band for a pair of cuts.  Doors open at 9 pm and the cover charge is 5,000 won with one free drink.

Saturday night will feature 3rd Line Butterfly and an acoustic set from Apollo 18.  Doors open at 8 pm and the cover charge is 5,000 won with one free drink.  Apollo 18 held an unplugged concert at Guitar Men & Hippie Girls back in March just prior to departing for their USA tour.  Below is a clip from that night of the group doing a playful version of “High Stepper” with Dong Hoon from National Pigeon Unity serving as guest vocalist.

Guitar Men & Hippie Girls’ farewell bash will finish on Sunday with a dub and ska party.  Kingston Rudieska vocalist Suk Yuel, Re-ska’s Hong Gi, and Woodakahi (ex-Funkafric & BoostDah) will all take turns spinning tunes.  Doors will open at 7 and there’s no cover charge.


Directions to Guitar Men & Hippie Girls: From Hongik Station go out exit 8 and turn right. Walk up the street and turn left at the convenience store on the corner. Stay on the right hand side of the street (you’ll pass a bunch of BBQ restaurants) and turn right at the first proper road (not one of the small alleyways). Walk up the left side of the road. Guitar Men & Hippie Girls is about half-way up the street (across from Beetlejuice, on the same side as Club Bbang and Gopchangjeongol). For more info, call 010-2088-4642 (Korean and English).

National Pigeon Unity Wrapping Up Their Cross-Country Tour

By Shawn Despres

National Pigeon Unity will hold their “Find the Root Tour Final” this Saturday (August 20) in Hongdae at Badabie.

The Seoul rock duo toured throughout South Korea in July, playing a remarkable 25 concerts between the 1st and 31st of the month.  Weekend gigs were held in proper live venues and weekday performances were outdoor, busking-style shows.

“We did some street concerts in the past,” shares guitarist Kim Dong Hoon prior to the start of the “Find the Root” tour.  “We just showed up somewhere and started playing.  So many people came over and watched us.  We were surprised.”

Drummer Park Young Mok adds, “People were saying, ‘What the hell?  They’re playing a gig.’  It was fun to see their reactions.”

Traveling some 1,900 km and sleeping in cheap hotels, jjimjilbangs, and occasionally their car, National Pigeon Unity hoped to play 31 concerts in July, but the month’s heavy rainfall made it impossible to perform outside some days.  The tour was still a success with the act selling 500 copies of their “Root” sophomore full-length and exposing many new listeners to National Pigeon Unity.

“People in the Korean countryside don’t know much about Seoul indie bands,” says Park.  “They don’t know a lot about rock music either.  We want to teach more people about rock music and show them that Korea has good rock bands.”

Formed in 2006 as a trio, last summer Kim and Park parted ways with bassist Manga over concerns about his dedication to the group.  Deciding to continue as a two-piece, they issued “Root” in April.  While their “Empathy” debut and early EPs were filled with emo and punk sounds, “Root” is a more rock-oriented album and is hands down National Pigeon Unity’s most cohesive and dynamic effort to date.

“We’re more open-minded now,” says Kim.  “We’re trying a lot more different arrangements when making songs.”

“We like playing as a duo better.  Before everyone had their own area onstage and did their own thing.  We were playing together, but we weren’t connected.  Now there’s lot of eye contact between us.  We’re more in sync with each other and there’s more energy when we play.”

National Pigeon Unity are preparing to start work on an EP that they hope to issue this fall through Apollo 18’s Gogol Sound imprint.  The disc will feature new material along with some re-worked cuts from their past releases that were originally recorded when the band was still a trio.  They want to follow that up with another full-length next year.

Although the plan is to continue playing as a duo, National Pigeon Unity aren’t against the idea of incorporating more players into the band one day.

“We’re not sure if we’ll add another member in the future,” admits Park.  “If we do add another member, I’d like it to be a pianist.  I want to keep experimenting with different sounds and I think that could help make our music more varied.”

National Pigeon Unity’s “Find the Root Tour Final” takes place on Saturday night at Badabie in Hongdae.  The show starts at 7 pm and tickets are 15,000 won at the door.  Apollo 18, 13 Steps, Plastic Heart, Juck Juck Grunzie, and Yang Chang Keun are also on the bill.

You can find National Pigeon Unity on Facebook here.
There’s a CD review of “Root” here.

SuperColorSuper and Korean Indie in New York Times

By Mark

I was happily surprised this morning to find an extended Q&A in the New York Times‘ T Magazine blog with Sean Maylone, founder of indie concert promoter SuperColorSuper. Who knew that Sean and Korea’s indie scene was on the radar of the NYT? Says the article’s introduction:

Is there a Korean underground? According to Sean Patrick Maylone, the answer is yes. His Seoul-based booking and promotion agency, SuperColorSuper, has helped to create a South Korean tour circuit for indie bands like Caribou, Das Racist and CocoRosie, blazing a trail not just to Seoul, but also to Busan and Daegu, places the 30-year-old native Californian knew nothing about when he arrived in Korea to teach English four years ago. Here, Maylone discusses South Korea’s burgeoning underground music scene.

And a couple of key parts from the interview:

What do you see happening in Korea’s music world?

I think Korea’s coming into what we in America experienced in the 1950s and ’60s, socially and artistically, and that we’re going to see the rise of more anti-heroes. Something like “Rebel Without a Cause” is going to come out here, or their own hippie movement. Maybe K-pop is going to go through stages like the Beatles did, from straight-up bubblegum to more tripped-out, experimental open-mindedness. It’s related to economics. Korea was having problems in the ’90s. People were having trouble just putting food on their plates. They had a militant government. Now people have all this money to spend. You have the rise of an artist class, and creative explosions are going to follow. People in various industries are sort of betting on it. Vice magazine has gotten involved with music here. Nylon now does a Korean version. I’m hoping we’ll start to feel the development of a Korean signature, a Korean approach to things.

What are some Korean bands people should check out?

A noise-pop duo called (((10))), comprised of a girl and a guy that have a sort of early Animal Collective sound. Wagwak, a catchy, Bright Eyes-type indie folk duo. Vidulgi Ooyoo, a shoe-gaze band reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive whose name translates to “Pigeon Milk.” Bamseom Pirates, a funny grind-core band who play 30-second songs. A chill-wave band called Googolplex. Yamagata Tweakster is a tongue-in-cheek solo artist who dresses in slacks and a tie and sings and dances with his laptop. There’s not a lot of Korean irony, but there are a few bands that have just come out that are using irony pretty well. The band Ninano Nanda combines Korean pansori operatic singing with really ’90s techno-beats and Mortal Kombat soundtrack-type sounds.

All in all, very good for Sean and great for the Korean music scene to get that kind of coverage. Between that article and all those Korean bands playing SXSW (and Apollo 18 playing just about everywhere), this is turning into a great year for Korean indie music.

Rocking in Jeonju

By Mark

While we at the Korea Gig Guide try to be as informative as we can about the nation’s whole music scene, I know we tend to focus on Seoul. Part of that is because Seoul has the largest indie scene in Korea, and part of that is because of where our writers are based. But there is definitely a lot of good music being made elsewhere around Korea, with more good stuff emerging all the time.

So I was happy to see this month’s Groove magazine looking at the live scene in Jeonju. And while not exactly encyclopedic, it is certainly interesting and a good place to start. Included in the special are:
– Some of the main clubs of Jeonju
– The band ATLAT
Orange Planet
The Dillytangs

Jeonju has long punched above its weight culturally. The Jeonju International Film Festival at the end of each April is a favorite with many movie fans (not with me so much, but who cares what I think?). There are numerous writers and poets from Jeonju. And there is the champion b-boy crew Last for One. Oh, there is this online guide to Jeonju, too. Anyhow, if you get the chance, you should check out Jeonju and some of its bands — they’re a lot more interesting than bibimbap.

Stepping Stone Bringing A Whole Lot of Rock ‘n’ Roll To Jeju

By Shawn Despres

As Mark mentioned a few days back, this weekend the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, Naksan Beach Summer Party, and the Busan International Rock Festival are all happening.

As if things weren’t busy enough, there’s one more outing to add to the list!  On Saturday evening on Jeju Island’s Hamdeok Beach the 8th annual Stepping Stone festival will take place.

Founded in 2004 by Kim Myung-su the event featured only Jeju acts until 2007. From 2008, Kim branched out and began inviting Seoul bands to Stepping Stone as well.

This year’s lineup features all Seoul bands and was booked by Kim, Eloise bassist Seo Ho-seong (who was also previously a member of The Plastic Day), and the owner of very hip Hongdae clothing shop Gyahaha, Song Yeon-ja. Scheduled to appear are Sagitta, 3rd Line Butterfly, Seoul Electric Band, Witches, Goonamguayeoridingstella, Funkafric & BoostDah, and Apollo 18.

Sagitta, 3rd Line Butterfly, Seoul Electric Band, and Goonamguayeoridingstella were all a part of last year’s Stepping Stone and are excited to return to the event. Apollo 18 are riding high from last weekend’s sets at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival and Fuji Rock Festival. Enjoying a busy few weeks, the post-hardcore trio will be heading to Taiwan next week to perform at Beastie Rock Festival (August 13), too.

Stepping Stone begins at 6 pm on August 6 and admission is free. This is definitely going to be a cool event and is well worth attending if you live in Jeju or can get down there this Saturday.  Here’s video footage of the last four Stepping Stone fests:

Stepping Stone’s official website is here.
Stepping Stone’s Facebook page is here.
Check out reviews of Stepping Stone 2009 here and Stepping Stone 2010 here.

Jisan Done, On With the Next Festivals

By Mark

Sadly, I could not attend this year, but it sounds like the Jisan Valley Rock Festival was pretty good this year. Yonhap is reporting the festival had 84,000 people there over its three days, which I think is its best turnout yet. And you can read reports on the festival here, and here.

Next weekend is going to be a really big one for music fans, with Pentaport, Naksan Beach Summer Party, and the Busan International Rock Festival all going on.

* * *

Btw, here are a few blog reviews of this year’s Jisan:
Korean Beacon, with a focus on Priscilla Ahn and Aziatix.
– Priscilla talks a bit about her Korea trip here (although not much about Jisan).
– A fun review with lots of pics at Strange Lands.
Timeless, Bottomless links to some videos of Chang Kiha and the Faces playing at Jisan.
– Video of Aziatix playing.

Plus Fuji Rock has a great review blog, as always. All worth checking out.