Monthly Archives: December 2014

Korea Gig Guide & Do Indie New Year’s Meet Up

On Sunday (January 4), Korea Gig Guide and our friends at Do Indie will be hosting a New Year’s Meet Up at Common in Blu in Hongdae.  The event will run from 4 pm – 7 pm and is open to everyone who is interested in the local indie music scene.

KGG Logo

Write about music?  Come hang out with us!  Play music? Come hang out with us!  Work in the Korean music industry? Come hang out with us!   Simply enjoy listening to Korea-based acts bang out indie anthems on disc and in dingy live spaces?  Come hang out with us!  Anyone who would like to have a few drinks and gab about the Korean indie scene with like-minded folks is more than welcome to join us.

Do Indie Logo

The Korea Gig Guide & Do Indie New Year’s Meet Up will run from 4 pm – 7 pm on Sunday, June 4 at Common in Blu.  The event is totally free to attend, but everyone is responsible for paying for their own drinks.  Hope to see you on Sunday!

Common in Blu Map

To get to Common in Blu, go out Exit 1 of Hongik University Station and walk straight. Turn right at the Standard Chartered bank and then left at Paris Baguette.  Walk straight for a few blocks and then turn left at the 7-11.  Common in Blu will be on your right.  It’s on the first floor of Blu Guest House.

Party 51 screenings in English

A few years ago, Hongdae was the location of a brilliant moment in Korean underground music history. Musicians looking for an affordable place to practice and have concerts connected with Duriban, a small noodle shop undergoing a struggle for its existence. And you can relive it all in the new documentary by Jung Yong-taek, Party 51.

Duriban was located a couple hundred meters out Hongdae Station exit 8, past the Lotte Cinema, near where exit 4 is today. In Duriban’s former location, there is an empty lot filled with weeds. The restaurant owners were offered 5 million won in compensation, from the 25 million they originally put in. Then on Christmas Eve 2009, 30 hired goons entered the restaurant while there were customers eating to forcibly evict everyone. The very next day, Duriban owner Ahn Jong-nyeo returned, forced her way into her shuttered, destroyed business and began a 531-day sit-in protest.

That period presented a unique opportunity for Hongdae musicians, who now had a free place to go to practice, put on shows, or just hang out or even sleep. The main musicians who gathered here were bluesman Ha Heon-jin, grind band Bamseom Pirates, neo-folk musician Danpyunsun, Hahn Vad of Amature Amplifier and Yamagata Tweakster, and noise musician Park Daham. They rallied behind Duriban, forming Jarip (Independent Musicians Collective) and holding the first 51+ Festival on May 1, 2010, which is depicted in the early moments of the movie.

The film premiered on December 11 at theaters around the country, but four screenings with English subtitles are being offered at Indieplus, located near Sinsa Station. Tickets are 7,000 won. Here’s the schedule for the screenings with English subtitles:

12.29 (Mon) 20:30
01.03 (Sat) 10:30
01.07 (Wed) 20:30
01.11 (Sun) 16:10


“Duriban was a kind of utopian moment in Korea’s capitalist society, and I doubt there will be another situation quite like that again,” said director Jung Yong-taek in an interview with Broke in Korea. “That Duriban period will never occur again, and there will never been another like it.”

Hippie Death Star (ex-The Plastic Day) Playing in Seoul During the Holidays

Hippie Death Star, a new Australia-based band featuring Shin Sunho (aka Green) – the former guitarist and vocalist for the excellent Korean rock band The Plastic Day – are closing out 2014 by playing a handful of gigs in Seoul.

Hippie Death Star Photo

Formed in Seoul in 2006, The Plastic Day released an EP in 2007 called “Lady” and in 2009 released their fantastic full-length, “30 Seconds between the Dreamer and the Realist.”  The band broke up in 2010 when Shin moved to Australia.

Hippie Death Star is the first group Shin has played with since moving to Sydney.  The act features him on guitar and vocals, Matt King on guitar, Jay Woo on bass, and Tobia Blefari on drums.  Like Shin, Woo is also Korean.  King and Blefari are both Australian and Hippie Death Star’s tour this month is their first time visiting Korea.

“Green was my friend back in Korea but I hadn’t heard from him since I left there,” says Woo.  “But I bumped into him in Sydney a few years later and we had lots of jam sessions with lots of musicians in Sydney.  And then we found Matt and Tobia.  It’s hard to find good players with good attitudes here. I was lucky to meet Matt, Tobia, and Green.”

Mixing rock and psychedelic sounds, Hippie Death Star began their Korean tour on December 13 and have played three gigs so far at Badabie (December 13), Yogiga (December 17) and Mudaeruk (December 20) as part of Reggae Chicken’s “Psychedelic Flowers” concert series.  The act will be finishing up their tour this week with shows at Club Freebird 2, Club FF, and Strange Fruit before flying back to Australia on Sunday.

The group formed this past summer, and surprisingly had only played two live gigs before flying to Korea for this tour.  While most bands tend to be a bit more experienced before embarking on a round of international dates, when Reggae Chicken owner Rhiu Kwanghee asked Hippie Death Star to play as part of “Psychedelic Flowers,” the offer seemed too good to pass up.

“Honestly I’m so excited to have the chance to play overseas,” says King. “I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t want to do a tour of Korea.”

“It’s a nice excuse to visit family and friends,” adds Shin.  “It’s been a really long time since I’ve hung out over there.  We’re really grateful to Kwanghee for this opportunity.”

According to Shin, Hippie Death Star have five songs so far and their sets run about 45 minutes in length.  He says he’s also got the blueprints for two more numbers in his head and thinks that those seven songs will eventually make up the act’s first album.  The group have actually done some recording while they’ve been in Korea, but there’s no official word yet on how those tracks will be used.

Now that they are halfway through their Korean dates, what can people expect from Hippie Death Star’s remaining concerts in Seoul?

“I want to say that people shouldn’t expect anything,” says Shin.  “Just come say hi to us and give us a big hug or a smile.”

And for those missing The Plastic Day, how does Shin feel that Hippie Death Star compares to his former band?

“I don’t know,” he offers.  “It’s hard to describe some things and very easy to say other things, so it’s better for me not to compare these two bands myself.  One thing I’m sure of is that both bands aren’t chasing the mainstream.  The Plastic Day never pretended to be independent but secretly wanted to play mainstream music.  And neither does Hippie Death Star.”

Hippie Death Star play on December 24 at Freebird 2, December 26 at Club FF, and December 27 at Strange Fruit.  The full info for all the shows is below.

Reggae Chicken Poster

December 24 @ Club Freebird 2 (5 pm start): Hippie Death Star, Yes Yes, Contrules, Juck Juck Grunzie, Romantiqua with Eshe and Navah, Mineri, Kopchangjeongol, and Julia Dream. Tickets are 25,000 won at the door.

December 26 @ Club FF (10 pm start): Hippie Death Star, National Pigeon Unity, Atmo, ABTB. Tickets are 15,000 won at the door with one free drink.

December 27 @ Strange Fruit (5 pm start): Hippie Death Star, Hellivision, Dead Buttons, Ironic Hue, My Way Killing, and Juck Juck Grunzie.  Tickets are 25,000 won at the door.

Club FF Poster

Vidulgi Ooyoo Celebrates 10 Years Together at Club Ta This Weekend

Seoul shoegazers Vidulgi Ooyoo will be playing a concert at Club Ta in Hongdae on Saturday night (December 20) to celebrate their tenth anniversary as a band.

Vidulgi Ooyoo Picture

Long-term followers of the quartet may be wondering how 2014 marks their tenth year together.  Didn’t guitarist Jong-seok Lee start Vidulgi Ooyoo in 2003?

“I formed the band in 2003, but most of our present members came together in 2004,” Lee explains.  “So I think of 2004 as the year that we actually made our live debut.”

The past decade has seen Vidulgi Ooyoo release two excellent full-length albums, 2008’s “Aero” – which earned them nods for “Rookie of the Year,” “Best Modern Rock Album,” and “Best Modern Rock Song” at the 2009 Korean Music Awards – and 2013’s “Officially Pronounced Alive,” and issue a split disc with American act Bliss.City.East in 2010.  The band have also shared their music abroad during tours in the US, Canada, Japan, and China.

Saturday’s concert will be a celebration of all Vidulgi Ooyoo’s accomplishments to date.  But the night will also be a bit sad as it will be guitarist Jee-hye Ham’s last performance with the group.


“Jee-hye plays in two bands, Vidulgi Ooyoo and Juck Juck Grunzie,” says Lee.  “Nowadays she has a hard time keeping up with both bands because of other things in her life.  So she thought she should only focus on one band.

“Juck Juck is the band that she herself started so she decided to stick with them.  It was a very difficult decision for her to make and we totally understand why she had to make it.  We’re very grateful for everything she’s done for our band.  We hope many people will come out to the show at Club Ta this weekend to hear her play her final tunes with us.

A replacement for Ham has already been found but Lee isn’t ready to publicly announce who the person is just yet.  Instead he offers this.

“She is a complete new comer,” he says.  “We’ll start to work together from January and she’ll play guitar song and sing with us.  She’ll cover many of the things that Jeehye does with Vidulgi Ooyoo, but she’ll add her own unique style and identity to them.”

Over the past few months, Lee has written a handful of songs.  The plan is to record some of the material this coming spring and issue it is a two- or three-song single.  The cuts will be the first recordings to come out with Vidulgi Ooyoo’s new lineup.

“I think with these tracks we may expand the guitar textures a bit more than we did on ‘Officially Pronounced Alive,” says Lee.  “Maybe the songs will have more of a psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll feel to them.”

Vidulgi Ooyoo Album Cover

Looking back over the past 10 years, what are some of Lee’s best memories of making music with Vidulgi Ooyoo?

“I think all of our best memories are just performing.  Every stage we’ve performed on has been a great memory for us.  It doesn’t matter where we play, the vibes onstage during our sets always make us excited.”

Moving forward, what does Vidulgi Ooyoo hope to do leading up to its twentieth anniversary?

“We want to keep developing our own sound and mindset,” Lee says.  “And we want to keep re-creating that feeling of excitement we felt when we first performed onstage together 10 years ago.”

Vidulgi Ooyoo plays on December 20 at Club Ta. The show starts at 7 pm and tickets are 35,000 won at the door.  Also on the bill are Jambinai, Underwears Band, Love X Stereo, and a surprise special guest.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for the concert:

7:00 Jambinai
7:40 Underwears Band
8:20 Love X Stereo
9:00 Vidulgi Ooyoo
10:00 Special Guest

Vidulgi Ooyoo Poster

Sage Francis: Hip-Hop Hits the South


Independent rapper, spoken word artist, and entrepreneur Sage Francis is coming to South Korea for the first time this weekend to share his unique take on hip-hop at Daegu’s Jeng-iy Collective (December 19) and Busan’s Club Realize (December 20).

Sage Francis Picture

Often referred to as the “forefather of indie hip-hop” (alongside “The Emcee’s Emcee” and “The rapper your favorite rappers idolize”), he began entering rap contests at the age of 12, and in a bid to get his music out there, formed his own record label Strange Famous Records before releasing his debut album, “Personal Journeys,” in 2002. Since then, he has released five more albums, produced eight “Sick” mixtapes, collaborated with a huge roster of performers, toured constantly, all the while still developing and growing his label and its roster.

After a four-year hiatus, he released his latest album “Copper Gone” in June of this year to critical acclaim. Korea Gig Guide had a quick chat with him in-between his recent shows in Australia.

Could you introduce yourself to the people of South Korea?

Hey, I thought that was your job! Okay, well, my name is Sage Francis. I am an American hip-hop artist. I talk a lot of shit and I back it all the fuck up. I run my own record label, Strange Famous Records, and that’s pretty much the only kind of running I like to do.

 You are often called a “rapper” and a “spoken word artist”, how do you distinguish the two? How do you feel about genres and labels in music from both a personal and industry perspective?

“Spoken word” is when material is performed with no specific rhythm or rhyme structure. There’s no music or beat to accompany the words. It’s more of a free-form vocal performance. Rap can also be performed without music, but it’s usually executed in 4/4 time with rhymes to connect each bar. I usually rap, and I think that’s always been my strength, but spoken word comes with its own strengths. It’s been important for me to jump between both, especially at live shows, if I think people are really listening.

You started writing and performing at a young age, when did you realize you wanted to do this for a living?

I had no idea I’d be able to do it for a living, but I knew that I always wanted to do it. When I was a kid I had fantasies about scoring a big record contract because, at the time, that’s how I thought all records were made. In college I discovered the punk scene and became aware of the DIY ethic, which was a huge revelation. That was a very important discovery because it would eventually shape a career that basically kicked off in 1996.

What was it about hip-hop that drew you in, and what artists inspired you growing up?

I was inspired by the sounds, the rhymes, the attitude, the language, and the energy. I loved everything about it. This was the mid-80s so I was inspired by everything I listened to. Run DMC, Fat Boys, Ice T, Too Short, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and on and on. Everyone was dope in their own way.

You have earned two degrees; in what ways does your education affect your music, sound, and message?

I have a degree in communications and in journalism. School was not a focus of mine, nor were my studies. I was still trying to figure out who I was and what other people were like. It was important for me to be around different types of people at that time, and even more
important for me to get involved with college radio as well as social activist groups. It was such a busy, hectic, exciting time in my life and there’s no way I could attribute any of what I do to the things that happened in any classroom. The classroom made the least impact on me. It was important for me to pass though, so I made sure I got my degree. My passion and focus was all about the things outside of the stuffy classroom though.

You are in the middle of a very extensive tour, how does performing live compare to recording?

They are entirely different beasts. Each thing requires its own set of skills. Recording is an introverted and private experience for me. I don’t like anyone to be around. Performing is obviously more about public entertainment. It’s immediate. I like to do both and I’m glad I was able to marry the two, but they are definitely their own thing. There are a lot of songs I’ve recorded that I don’t ever want to perform live. And there are also a lot of songs that I have to change in order for them to be performed live. I like the control I get to have while recording. I like losing control when I perform.

Do you have any favorite places to perform?

California and Colorado shows are always great. Phoenix, AZ gets really rowdy. A lot of places in the UK get rowdy too. I think there was a mosh pit to one of my spoken word performances when I was there last month. Vancouver shows get wild. I’ve played about 90 shows this year so it’s kind of tough to remember specific cities. Everything just turns into one big blur. I wish I could shout out the East Coast, as that’s where I’m from, but the crowds there are usually very reserved. I still love playing in Providence and Boston though. What I really love is playing in remote areas. Small town shows too. They don’t pay the bills, but they make up for it in other ways. I love being able to travel to places like Alaska, Iceland, and New Zealand. And now I get to play South Korea, which I never thought would be possible. I’m very thankful for these opportunities the fans
and music community have afforded me.

What can you tell us about the formation and running of Strange Famous Records, and how it has progressed since it began?

I dubbed cassette tapes at first so I could have something to sell at shows. Whatever money I made went into making more tapes. And then it went into making CDs, which were actually CD-Rs that I burned at first. Once I made enough money from those sales I was able to pay for a manufacturer to make everything. I sold them at shows and over the
internet if people trusted me enough to send cash in the mail. Eventually I worked with CD distributors who were able to get my music into stores and I developed a more proper webstore. I learned more and more about running a record label as time went on and eventually I was able to put out other people’s music. By 2003 I started employing
other people to do things and by 2005 we grew into a bigger operation with more signed artists. We could have kept growing, and we did have a lot of signings in 2008, but I didn’t like the idea of the label getting big just for the sake of getting big. I think it’s important
for us to maintain quality control and only work with a select few artists.

How has technology helped you to get your music and message out there over the last 15 or so years?

Technology allowed me to reach out to people all over the world. Before the internet I was pretty much stuck to just Rhode Island, Boston, Connecticut, and NYC. But, as fate would have it, it was people from almost every other territory in the world who really “got” what I was doing. That’s when the support came for me to be able to quit my job serving ice cream.

How does your home of Providence, Rhode Island impact your music?

I’m not sure. Maybe it’s good for me to have so much privacy and solitude. Maybe it’s bad. Maybe it doesn’t have any impact. It doesn’t seem like my location affects me much when it comes to writing and recording music, but perhaps I’d have to live somewhere else for a long time to really notice something different.

What’s your opinion on the evolution of hip-hop, and where would you like to see it go?

Hip-hop has evolved in every imaginable way. I’d like for it to keep doing whatever it likes to do. The craft is not in any kind of danger. There will always be great stuff, there will always be awful stuff. I hope at some point the music journalists and websites get a bit more interested in finding what’s really good rather than just covering whatever publicists and major record labels throw at them. That would be helpful in several ways.

Copper Gone

You delivered a new album earlier this year after a four-year gap, how was it to release “Copper Gone”?

It was invigorating. It re-energized me and, in some ways, gave me a brighter outlook on the future. I was in a dark place for far too long. Even if I never put out another album – which I will – I’d be more than content with releasing “Copper Gone” as my final stand. The process of releasing a project of this magnitude on your own label is more work than most people will ever understand, and we did it. We did it big. I’m incredibly proud of everyone who was involved with bringing this album to the public, and I’m glad I pushed myself to continue the tradition of proving my adversaries wrong.

What are your plans after this tour and for your career and label in the future?

I’m going to try and be as happy as possible while being as productive as possible. That’s always the goal, but I never quite know what it will entail. There’s a lot to do. I just want to get to it and do it at my own pace without upsetting people I care about.

What can those of us in South Korea expect from your upcoming live performances?

Expect surprises. Expect entertainment. Expect to be as impressed as you are confused. I’m an expert in all fields. This is what I live for at this point.

Francis’ live performances are mesmerizing, high energy, and unique. Soundfuse Magazine’s review from a show in Chicago this summer stated that he “doesn’t just own the stage while he performs — it looks like he’s about to snap the mic stand over his head and tear the stage to pieces.”  You should not miss the chance to see this talented and focused performer on these shores.

Sage Francis performs at Jeng-iy Collective in Daegu on December 19.  The show starts at 8 pm and Table People, PJQ, and Sean O’Gorman are also on the bill.  Tickets are 25,000 won.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Sage Francis also performs at Club Realize in Busan on December 20.  The show starts at 10 pm and Illap and Carlos Williams are also on the bill.  Tickets are 25,000 won.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Sage Francis Tour Poster

Want to win a pair of free tickets to see Sage Francis play at Jeng-iy Collective?  Korea Gig Guide has a pair of tickets to give away for Friday’s concert courtesy of DigitTo qualify for the tickets, simply share this story on Facebook.  Then email us at to let us know that you’ve posted the link to your Facebook wall, and we’ll add your name to the draw.  The contest closes at 11:30 am on Friday morning (December 19) and we’ll notify the winner by noon that day.  Good luck!


Nice Legs Tour Diary: Taipei4Life

By Henry Demos

I have been staring at this screen for what seems like minutes or hours or maybe days.  I have no idea.  Time has come to a standstill.  I am writing this because I fell in love with Taipei.  I have to write this.  Whatever this is, I have to write this because of Taipei.

Oh yeah, I forgot the introductions!  We are Nice Legs.  Lauren E. Walker plays the voice.  JJ hits things hard and rhythmically, and I play the three string.  Nice Legs is improv fuzz pop or something.  When we aren’t noising, we live in Seoul, Korea.

But now back to us playing in Taipei …

A few months back, we started sending emails – lots and lots of emails.  You see, we had previously toured Tokyo and I just didn’t learn my lesson.  I thought I needed to send hundreds of wasteful emails to schmucks that just don’t care about me, my music, or my face.  It seemed logical: send a bunch of emails and see what sticks.  It isn’t logical.  After days of stupidity, I started sending smart emails.

The first person I contacted was my new friend and owner/operator of another great gig guide (, Steve Leggat.  Steve is a nice f*cking guy.  He didn’t know me. Luckily through the amazing internet email land we were able to build a relationship.  He told me who to write.  More importantly, I could use his name as a reference.  Steve’s word is bond down in Taipei.  He put me in touch with my dream date Dan.  Dan is best known for being both the the booking agent for the Taipei live space Revolver and as lead singer/guitarist of the unstoppable Until Seeing Whales Eyes.

After booking us at Revolver, Dan told me that he would put us on a festival he was running called Volume 22.  Awesome!  Our first time playing Taipei and already we were getting a f*cking festival!  Man, did it kill but more on Volume 22 later because that was the sh*t.  Now we had to figure out where we were going to sleep.  I mean, we are poor … and did I mention our drummer JJ is going to have a baby?  Yeah, we needed something cheap.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but boy did it.  We had another great stroke of luck with our friends Todde and Patty.  They not only put us up, showed us the town, and drank us under the table, but they also found us a third gig.  They made our trip complete!

So we promptly bought plane tickets.  Of course that is a total lie.  We all waited until the last minute and paid way too much.  But let’s just flash forward.


Nice Legs Revolver

We played at the totally righteous Revolver.  I want to call it a punk club, but that wouldn’t really do it justice.  It’s a two-story joint with a bar on the first floor and the venue on the second, and it has great amps, drinks, and drums.  The green room was pretty ill too.  We were the opening act for Taipei legends Freckles and Osaka beatbox math noise rockers Qu.  The show was packed.  I stripped down to only my fishnets for some reason.  It was just that good.  Our first night playing in a new city and we already felt welcomed with open arms.

Later, Dan took us out for drinks.  Things got a little hazy from there.  I’m pretty sure it was fun!


Volume 22

This was that festival, Volume 22 at a place called The Wall.  There were bands from Taipei, Tokyo, Osaka, and Singapore.  It was the most organized event I have been a part of.  Two stages right next to each other.  When one band played, the next would set up.  Dude, it was great.  There was even this guy in the audience that sang along with the strangest voice.  Lauren definitely gave him the mic for the chorus of one song.  I could go on for pages about the bands, people, and everything but I won’t.  I will just say 22Records is doing some fine work.

Dan took us out for drinks again …


After a rough start at the crack of noon, we got fixed up with spectacular meals at Mary’s Hamburger. Definitely go there if you visit Taipei!  Gig time came quicker than we hoped so we were off to Vicious Circle.  The club had a diner, a bar, and a clothing shop.  Also it was oddly clean.

Our lovely hosts Todde and Patty had wrangled this show for us.  The young and quirky Dirty Fiction opened for us.  The concert was riddled with technical difficulties but damn it was probably my favorite show of the weekend.  Feedback can go f*ck itself!  By the way David Frazier from the Taipei Times came out that night.  I should mention he wrote an “article” about us.  It was … uh … unique.  What a guy.

Nice Legs Article

I’m not really sure how to end this.  The tour was over.  We didn’t have much time left so we thought it best to spend it with our new friends.  Actually, I retract that last bit.  The people we met in Taipei aren’t just new friends; they are new family.  I’m glad we could spend the weekend with those guys:  Dan, Todde, Patty, Kiki, Benben, Taipei Jesus, Steve, Dave, everybody.

Taiwan is an amazing place with amazing people.  Nice Legs is going back, you can bet your ass on that.  Taiwan, we love you!  Unless that is not really your thing but we love you still, okay?


Lineup Changes and a New Band on Display at the 2014 Gogol Records Label Party

Seoul indie imprint Gogol Records will have their second annual year end label party on Saturday night (December 13) at Club Freebird 2 in Hongdae.

Gogol Picture

Two of Gogol’s acts, Romantiqua and Juck Juck Grunzie, have recently made changes to their lineups.  In November, Romantiqua and bassist Griffin Shim parted ways.  The instrumental rockers are still searching for a permanent replacement for Shim, so Apollo 18’s Dae-inn Kim will play bass during their set on Saturday night.


In the case of Juck Juck Grunzie, drummer Geun-chang Park recently left so the group have brought in Kyung-hyun Lee to fill his spot.  Kyung-hyun previously drummed in the band Sun’strolling.  This weekend’s Gogol showcase will be only his second show with Juck Juck Grunzie.  He made his live debut with them on December 5 as part of Badabie’s tenth anniversary celebrations.

Juck Juck Grunzie

“Our first concert together went well,” says vocalist and synth player Ah-reum Lee.  “A lot of people there said that his drumming goes really well with our sound.  He has a lot of positive energy and rock ‘n’ roll spirit in his heart.  I think he’s going to have a great effect on our vibe and energy.”

Ah-reum is excited about working together with him and feels that his playing can help take Juck Juck Grunzie’s psych-tinged noise rock in even more directions.

“He’s a very powerful drummer.  I think a lot of rock music fans are going to be more interested in our new sound because it’s definitely going to be more rocking.  He’s really open minded about different styles of music, so we want to try and experiment more and more with our music.”

Here’s a newly released live video of Juck Juck Grunize with former drummer Geun-chang Park playing as part of Loose Union‘s “Live at Union Studio” series.

Saturday’s show will also feature a performance from the most recent addition to the Gogol Records family, Summer Never Comes.  The Gwangju post-rock trio joined the label this past summer.

Summer Never Comes

“Several bands who we like are part of Gogol Records so we were interested in the label,” says guitarist Young-do Pyen.  “Romantiqua guitarist Hyun Kim was the person who introduced our band to Gogol Records.  We’re grateful that he did that.”

Originally formed in 2008, after a number of member changes the band issued its first album, “Inuit,” in 2013.  They plan to put out their sophomore offering through Gogol Records in 2015. Set to be titled “Blackout,” Summer Never Comes will start recording the disc in January.

As previously reported on KGG, Romantiqua are now in the process of recording a new two-song single and National Pigeon Unity will be hitting the studio in January too so there should be lots of great music coming out under the Gogol Records name in the coming months.  And rumor has it label founders Apollo 18 are going to finally begin work on their very long overdue second full-length album next year as well.

Gogol Records’ label concert takes place on December 13 at Club Freebird 2. Apollo 18, Juck Juck Grunzie, Romantiqua, National Pigeon Unity, Summer Never Comes, and Contrules will play. The show starts at 5 pm and tickets are 10,000 won.

Gogol Poster

Tenacious D Heat Up a Frigid Seoul Evening

By Brian Gilbert and Jamie Gilbert

Tenacious D finished up the Asian leg of their 2014 Tour at Olympic Hall in Seoul on Saturday, December 6. Their second of two shows in the city, the act drew an enthusiastic crowd despite the biting chill outside.  The audience waited in anticipation for the band to take the stage, and the chanting began even before the first stage lights came up.  So, opening with “Tribute,” the lead single from their acclaimed 2001 eponymous debut, was definitely a crowd-pleasing way to get the night started.

Tenacious D Poster

For anyone familiar with the antics of the two comedic frontmen of Tenacious D, their entire set was a delicious mix of comedy and hard-rocking music.  Jack Black brought incredible energy to each and every song, adding to his belted-out high trills and his trademark crazy eyes. His partner in crime, Kyle Gass, added in some beautiful acoustic stylings along with quirky additions throughout the show, including a moment during which he simultaneously played two different sized recorders in the middle of “Simply Jazz.”

Tenacious D

Whether a song was one nearly everyone in the audience was familiar with like “Tribute” or “POD,” or a slightly lesser known piece, JB and KG (as they are otherwise known) maintained their unique balance and harmony as they fed off each other’s energy. It was easy to spot their joy in making music together.  And the pair’s performance was strengthened by the extremely talented musicians backing them.

Tenacious D 1

As is notable at some concerts in Korea, this show was a 19 and over event, in this case because of the crass humor and language the band added to the rock and physical comedy of the show. However, a great deal of the bathroom humor was likely lost in translation for some of the non-native English speakers in attendance. That being said, there was also plenty of higher-brow comedy to be enjoyed, highlighted in the bits with King JB and his lowly roadie and of course, the ubiquitous “Simply Jazz” break which, in addition to KG’s impressive finger/lung skills, featured unusual call and response sections encouraged with the assertion that “There are no wrong notes in jazz!”

Although the crowd did not fully fill out the impressively laid out Olympic Hall, there was no shortage of energy on the floor throughout the concert.  Anyone present looking to have their socks rocked partially off and seeking both cheap and expensive laughs clearly got their money’s worth, and the band’s actions showed they appreciated the fans in turn.  Whatever your mood, Tenacious D definitely delivers in entertainment, and if given the chance to catch the band as they continue their world tour later this month, come with tongues in cheek and rock-fingers ready for “The Greatest Band on Earth.”

Tenacious D 3

Set List:
“Rize of the Fenix”
“Low Hangin’ Fruit”
“Simply Jazz”
“The Metal”
“Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)”
“We Beat the Devil”
“Double Team”

“Pinball Wizard” / “There’s a Doctor” / “Go to the Mirror!”
“F*ck Her Gently”

The photos are from Tenacious D’s Friday, December 5 show in Seoul and were provided by Private Curve.

Kingston Rudieska get Aggro

If you thought Kingston Rudieska‘s last release — Ska n’ Soul with Dr Ring-Ding — was too short, now they’ve gone and put out a full two-CD album. This latest project, titled Everyday People, shows off the nine-piece ska band in pure form. Simply put, they’ve never sounded more like themselves before.

The secret weapon in their arsenal this time was Brian Dixon, music engineer extraordinaire. You might have heard some of his music from his time playing guitar in the LA dirty reggae band the Aggrolites, but his main love is in producing music. Dixon was in Korea this September to record, giving Korea Gig Guide enough time to ask him a few questions about his mission here.

How were you convinced to come to Korea?

An old friend of mine, Walter Dunn, works for the US military and is stationed in Korea. He told me about Kingston Rudieska and that they were going to do a new album and that I should engineer/produce it. He told me they were great musicians, but they needed that “grit” that I’m known for.

Brian Dixon (right) with Walter Dunn, former vocalist of Stingers ATX
Brian Dixon (right) hangs out with Walter Dunn (left), former vocalist of Stingers ATX, at a Kingston Rudieska concert at Sungkyunkwan University.

I have traveled the world, but had never been to Korea. Kingston Rudieska are a tight band and I wanted to make them sound the way I hear them. It was a very easy sell. Getting to go to a foreign country to record ska/rocksteady/reggae is a blessing.

Can you explain your philosophy on music production? What makes a recording have grit?

My approach is so simple. I have the band play live together in the same room. No headphones. No separation. I put them in a circle, so they can all see each other. The band always plays better in their natural environment. This is how they rehearse. This is how they sound the best. It’s so easy.

What is one thing you can zero in on about Kingston Rudieska that you would say is truly unique and special?

I instantly Ioved their “Asian” take on Jamaican music. They do it differently than musicians from California. Musicians from Los Angeles have a certain take on Jamaican music. Asians have their way. Both are valid, in my opinion. Life isn’t fun if you eat the same dinner every night.

Is there a lot of what you would consider “Koreanness” in their music?

There’s some, but I wanted more. This was a big discussion during the recording. They wanted a more traditional Jamaican sound. I wanted a more “Korean sound,” using ancient traditional Korean melodies and instruments. They seemed a bit confused why I kept asking them to do that. Five thousand years of culture… it is amazing to me. Finally, the last day, they indulged me with a “jam session” – they pulled out two ancient Korean songs to play. It was amazing! They actually embraced their 5,000-year-old culture and played the music that is in their souls. Beautiful.

Why was it decided to do a second disc?

When I do production/engineering work, I usually ask the band to do a “jam session” for me. This is helpful for a number of reasons. I get to hear what the band is sounding like in that particular studio. I can check all of the mics. The band starts to relax and have fun, which makes recording their songs much easier because the studio can be stressful for musicians. Kingston Rudieska was against my idea at first. It’s just not the Korean way. On the last day, we finished with the recording of all their songs, so they allowed my “jam session.” That became the second disc. The second disc isn’t “perfect,” but it has a certain energy that is even higher than the album. An incredible few hours that I will never forget. The band was on fire!

How will this album compare to earlier Kingston Rudieska recordings?

I recorded them the way they were meant to sound!

The double album Everyday People was released at the start of the month, but the release party is happening on Saturday, December 13 at MUV Hall, around the corner from Sangsang Madang in Hongdae. The concert starts at 7 pm and tickets are 35,000 won in advance and 40,000 won at the door.

Kingston Rudieska Everyday People For more information, RSVP on Facebook.

Startline, National Pigeon Unity, and Danpyunsun at the Last Shake Shop of 2014

The final Shake Shop concert of 2014 will take place at Club Freebird 2 in Seoul tonight (December 5). Presented by Korea Gig Guide and Dream Dance Studio, the show will feature a trio of Seoul-based, international touring indie acts – Startline, National Pigeon Unity, and Danpyunsun – all collaborating with Canadian bellydancer Eshe and her Navah troupe.


This will be melodic punk rockers Startline’s second time performing at Shake Shop. The three piece previously played the event back in March.

“Shake Shop was a new and exciting experience for us,” says drummer Choi Gun. “We’re excited about doing it again.  Bellydance is full of energy and passion, just like our music is.  I think together we’ll create a very cool and thrilling experience for everyone.”

This past summer, Startline played concerts in China, Taiwan, and Japan. In November, they returned back to China for a pair of shows in Suzhou and Shanghai.

“Those tours were really good for us,” says Choi.  “I want to face many new musical challenges with Startline.  (Guitarist and vocalist) Ho-jun (Jung) needs more experience on a wide variety of stages as a vocalist and (bassist) Zena (Won) likes watching great musicians from all around the world and gaining inspiration from them.  These experiences in different environments are making us a stronger band and are helping us to create our own unique style of punk.”

Startline are currently gigging in support of their latest EP, “Across the Night,” which was released in August. Similar to 2013’s “Light My Fire” EP, “Across the Night” is full of catchy, fast-paced tracks.  Next year Startline plan to put out their full-length debut and intend to tour Japan again as well.  Other overseas concerts are a possibility as well.


June saw National Pigeon Unity making their return to the local live circuit after a nearly two-year absence while the band members did their military service.  In September, the rock duo traveled to Taiwan to play at Taipei’s Beastie Rock Festival.

“Beastie Rock Festival helped us and taught us many things,” say drummer Park Young-mok.  “We’ve been a band for seven years, but that was our first time to play outside of Korea.  It was also one of our first concerts after finishing our army duties.  I think that show helped us get our energy back.  It also showed us that in places where we can’t speak the language, we still can communicate through our songs.

“The crowd at Beastie Rock seemed to be really interested in our music.  As soon as we got onstage the air felt different and everyone seemed to be really focused on what we were doing.  It was a really good experience.”

Early next year, the group plan to start recording the long-awaited follow-up to their 2011 full-length, “Root.”  Originally formed as a trio, “Root” was their first offering as a two-piece band.  With their next album they want to take things up a notch and show people just how strong of a duo they are.  Fans can get a taste of what to expect from National Pigeon Unity’s 2015 album on December 8 when they group issue a new two-song digital single called “Like a Light.”

Shake Shop will be National Pigeon Unity’s first time teaming up with dancers.

“We don’t know much about bellydancing, but we know Eshe and have seen her and Navah collaborate with other bands,” says Park.  “We’re excited and a little worried about the show.  We think it’s going to be a good challenge, though, and we look forward to seeing how our music mixes with bellydancing.”


Also on tonight’s bill is Danpyunsun.  The experimental folk singer performed in Japan in November.  And he’s been quite active this year with his excellent band Danpyunsun and the Sailors.  He’ll be playing solo at Shake Shop while the bellydancers shimmy along.

Shake Shop Vol. 18 takes place on Friday, December 5 at Club Freebird 2. The doors open at 8 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Startline, National Pigeon Unity, and Danpyunsun.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for tonight’s concert:

Danpyunsun 8:20 pm – 8:55 pm
Startline 9:05 pm – 9:40 pm
Navah 9:40 pm – 9:55 pm
National Pigeon Unity 9:55 pm – 10:30 pm

Shake Shop Poster