Monthly Archives: January 2015

No. 1 Korean, Ynot? & Sugar, Come Again Plus Lots of Shimmies at Shake Shop This Weekend

Since February 2013, Korea Gig Guide has been co-presenting the Shake Shop concert series with Dream Dance Studio.  Created by bellydancer Eshe, the monthly event mixes local indie music with bellydancing.  After seven years in Seoul, Eshe will be moving back to her native Canada this spring which means there will only be two more Shake Shop shows.  This month’s gig will take place on Saturday night (January 24) and will see No. 1 Korean, Ynot?, and Sugar, Come Again all collaborating with Eshe and her Navah bellydance troupe.

No. 1 Korean were quick to join the bill for Saturday’s show after learning that January’s Shake Shop will be the second last installment of the series.

“We heard our friend Eshe will be moving to Canada soon, so we really wanted to do this concert together” says Kwon Milk, the band’s charismatic frontman.

Although No. 1 Korean’s catchy hybrid of ska and rock is very different from typical bellydance fare, the group have little doubt that their collaboration with Eshe and Navah will be fun and entertaining.

“We think our music easily transcends boundaries,” says Kwon Milk.  “And beyond those boundaries we hope to dance with everyone.  Together with the dancers, we hope to share feelings that cannot be expressed with words.”

No. 1 Korean

The act’s most recent offering is their “My Small Calendar” EP.  Released last April, the six-track effort is a mellower affair than No. 1 Korean’s previous output.

“We chose to make love songs for the EP,” shares Kwon Milk.  “We tried to express many complicated feelings about love in the world with different relaxed sounds.”

Ynot Picture

Like No. 1 Korean, Ynot? are looking forward to their collaboration with Eshe and Navah.

“These belly dancers have been performing for a very long time, but unfortunately Ynot? haven’t had the chance to perform with them yet,” says vocalist Jeon Sangkyu. “Since this will be one of the last Shake Shops, we feel very lucky to be playing.”

As for the collaboration itself, Jeon feels that Ynot’s funky rock cuts will fit well with bellydancing.

“Throughout our career, Ynot? have been very interested with the idea of rhythm,” says Jeon.  “Our beat might be a little tougher and more rocking compared to more traditional bellydance ones, but it should still be good because all rhythm is meant to make people dance!  And we also use Korean traditional percussion, which will make it a very unique and interesting performance.”

In December, the quintet celebrated their fifteenth anniversary and issued a new full-length titled “Swing.”  In their write-up of “Swing,” the website Korean Indie said that the “album offers emotional and intensified music which makes you yearn for more.”  Wanting more songs to bop around to, the favorable review later stated that despite the disc boasting a dozen tracks, “it doesn’t seem like enough.”

“It’s heavier and the music and lyrics are more aggressive,” says Jeon when comparing it to the group’s back catalogue.  “We spent a whole year writing and recording our new album.  I think we put the most effort, time, and money into this one.”

Sugar, Come Again 3

Rounding out Saturday night’s bill is Sugar, Come Again.  The self-dubbed “emotional reggae” band is led by Kingston Rudieska vocalist Sugar Sukyuel and also includes Kingston Rudieska drummer Kim Daemin.  The project sprang from a solo show Sugar Sukyuel did in October 2013.

“I had some friends help me with my solo show,” Sugar Sukyuel says.  “It was so much fun that we decided to make a band.  I really like reggae music and had actually been thinking about making a reggae band so I’m happy that it luckily happened!

“Sugar, Come Again’s music has violin, which is unusual for reggae music, but we’re trying to challenge ourselves and to create a new sound which we call ‘emotional reggae.’”

In spring 2014, Sugar, Come Again entered the studio to record some tracks, and  last July they put out a two-song single called “1st Exercise.”  The group’s goal for this year is to continue to practice and play lots in order to continue growing as a band.

Last year, Sugar Sukyuel appeared at Shake Shop with Kingston Rudieska and had a great time working with Eshe and Navah.  He’s excited about teaming up with the hip-shaking beauties again as Sugar, Come Again.

“We’ve been thinking that bellydancing is a good match for our music, so this should be a great collaboration,” he says.  “We think there are no boundaries between any kind of music and dance and that it’s really easy for music and dance to come together as one.”

Shake Shop Vol. 19 takes place on Saturday, January 24 at Club Freebird 2. The doors open at 7:30 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with a free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside No. 1 Korean, Ynot?, and Sugar, Come Again.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for the concert:

8:00 Navah
8:15 Sugar, Come Again
9:00 Ynot?
9:45 No.1 Korean

Shake Shop Poster

…Whatever That Means Ready to Heat Things Up with Winter Tour

Seoul-based melodic punk group …Whatever That Means has carved out a permanent place in the Hongdae scene over the past six years. Originally started as a one-off act put together to celebrate their own wedding back in 2009, guitarist and vocalist Jeff Moses and his wife – and …Whatever That Means bassist – Trash were later convinced by friends to make it a proper band. Thus …Whatever That Means was born and has been crafting their own style of melodic punk ever since. Their current lineup includes drummer Mizno, who took over from long-term band member Hong Gu last year, and new guitarist Bialy.

WTM_Band Photo Logo

…Whatever That Means’ sound is energetic and uncomplicated but with enough depth to pull you in. The catchy vocal melodies layered over simple guitar riffs are reminiscent of the So-Cal style of punk that gained popularity in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

“Our biggest influences are probably Bad Religion, Face To Face, The Descendents, and Social Distortion” says Jeff.

In 2011, the band took their show on the road stateside. A career highlight for Jeff was getting to play at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California. Growing up listening to punk rock, he’d wanted to watch a show there since he was 15.

“It’s the club where Operation Ivy, Green Day, and Rancid all got their starts,” Jeff says. “It had a huge impact on the US punk scene of the ‘90s so playing on the stage where so many of my favorite musicians had played really was amazing.”

The band recently released a cover of the Chinkees’ “Asian Prodigy” as a digital single to add to their catalogue of two EPs and two full-length albums. While their style has inevitably evolved since their first release, they have retained their trademark sound.

“Things are still simple, but I think the song writing in general is better,” says Jeff. “We’ve also become a lot more aggressive over the years.”

WTM Album Cover

You can hear this new energy on their latest album, “Sixty-Eight, Twenty-Two.” Recorded at Trash and Jeff’s home studio, it is named after the distance (6,822 miles) between their old apartment in Pennsylvania and Hongdae Playground. The pair spent a year there in 2012 while Jeff attended grad school in the US. A longing to return “home” to Korea and its punk scene inspired the lyrics.

“It’s all about finding that place where you feel like you can be yourself and really making it your own,” says Jeff.

Back home in Korea, the band was fortunate enough to recruit Hongdae punk legend Jonghee Won of Rux to perform on the album’s title track.

“We were running through it at practice, and I kept hearing Jonghee’s voice singing it in my head,” Jeff explains. “It just had that Rux street punk kind of rhythm during the verse. I’ve known Jonghee for years, and we’d worked on a few other projects together so I shot him a text message to ask if he’d be interested in singing on our album, and he responded positively almost immediately.”

Another standout track on the album is “The Goodbye Note,” whose sobering lyrics take the form of a lover’s farewell. They came from Jeff one day thinking about dying and what the most important things to tell Trash would be if he had to say goodbye to her. His wife understandably had a very emotional response when she read the finished lyrics.

“They made her cry, and she swore she’d never be able to sing that song,” he shares “It actually took quite a while before she could get through it, but now it’s a regular part of our set.”

Photo by Ken Robinson
Photo by Ken Robinson

So how does the band go about writing its music?

“Usually, a line or two of melody or a lyric will pop into my head, and it all just builds from there,” Jeff says. “I’ll come up with more melody and lyrics. Then, I start building the rhythm guitar and main riffs around that. Next I’ll record a demo at home with the song basically complete and send it to everyone else in the band.”

The punk scene in Korea has also seen its share of change over the years. While there is a thriving community of musicians and concert goers which has kept the culture and the music alive, many are concerned that the scene is currently on the decline. However, Jeff is more optimistic.

“Some people say that the scene is dying here. I disagree. It sucks that there’s no central club here that we can all rally around like in the past, but there are a lot of really great bands and a lot of people coming out to shows. I hope that more people start to realize the quality of Korean bands and things grow even more, but in general, I think things are good right now.”

Aside from …Whatever That Means having a regular spot on the bill at Hongdae’s now defunct Club Spot, Jeff worked the bar there right up until the iconic basement club closed its doors for good in October last year. He laments its closure but is upbeat about the future.

“It sucks. I hate not having ‘my place’ to go hangout at. Someone just opened a noraebang there. What a waste! In the short term, I think it’s harder for punk and hardcore bands to find a place to easily put on shows in a good-sized club. In the long term, I think the scene will naturally gravitate towards somewhere else. It won’t be the same as Spot, but it’ll be awesome in its own way. Where that will be, I don’t really know. Maybe it’ll be Ruailrock. Maybe somewhere new will open.”

This month will see … Whatever That Means gigging in Malaysia and Singapore as part of their 2015 winter tour. They previously toured in Malaysia in 2010 when the band was in its infancy and well before their new rhythm section got on board.

“We’re all so excited to get back down to Malaysia,” Jeff says. “This time, we have an even more solid lineup and better songs to play. We had only been a band for about eight or nine months when we did that first tour. We’re obviously a lot more experienced now so I’m looking forward to showing how we’ve grown.”

… Whatever That Means will kick off their winter tour in Seoul on Saturday (January 17) with a gig at Ruailrock in Hongdae. The show starts at 9 pm and tickets are 10,000 won. The Veggers, 21 Scott, and Startline will be opening. For more information, check out the Facebook event page for the concert here.

WTM Poster

And here are the rest of the dates for the band’s 2015 winter tour:

January 24 Singapore @ Aliwal Arts Centre
January 25 Batu Pahat, Malaysia @ The Wall
January 27 Melaka, Malaysia @ UTC 8th Floor
January 28 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia @ ALT+HQ
January 30 Kuantan, Malaysia @ Darksky Lounge
January 31 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia @ Black Box (Publika)
February 14 @ Freebird 2


“Oh Yes It’s Ladies’ Night, Oh What A Night …”

Volume 1 of Ladies’ Night, a new concert series “aimed at bringing awareness to the problem of street harassment and other issues affecting women in Korea,” will take place on Saturday night (January 10) at Club Ta in Hongdae.

Hollaback Korea

The event will feature a number of very good female-fronted local acts including Manju Pocket, A’z Bus, Veins, Oops Nice, Billy Carter, Wasted Johnny’s, and Juck Juck Grunzie as well as bellydancers Eshe and Navah. Proceeds from Ladies’ Night Volume 1 will be donated to Hollaback! Korea.

“We’re excited!” says Veins guitarist and vocalist Yu Hee.  “The show is going to be loud and crowded.”

“The purpose of the gig is also very good,” adds A’z Bus guitarist and vocalist Woo Ju.

A'z Bus

A’z Bus will be sharing material from their new “Mono Mobile” EP on Saturday night.  The five-track effort was released in December and serves as the follow-up to the alt-rock trio’s solid “Smilecry” EP.

“We made the songs last spring and recorded them in the fall,” Woo Ju says. “Our second EP sounds more organized because the members of our band were more familiar with the songs.”

November 2014 saw A’z Bus coming in second place at the Hello Rookie finals and in December they won first prize at KOCCA’s K-Rookies Final Concert.  Their set at Club Ta on January 10 promises to be one of many entertaining performances at Ladies’ Night Volume 1.

Ladies’ Night Volume 1 takes place on Saturday night at Club Ta.  The show starts at 7 pm and tickets are 10,000 won. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for the concert.

7:00 – Manju Pocket
7:40 – Eshe & Navah
8:05 – A’z Bus
8:55 – Veins
9:45 – Oops Nice
10:35 – Billy Carter
11:25 – Wasted Johnny’s
12:15 – Juck Juck Grunzie

Ladie's Night Poster

KGG Staff 2014 Live Faves

The title above pretty much sums up what this post is about! Below are the live performances that Korea Gig Guide’s contributors liked the best in 2014. Hopefully you saw lots of great gigs last year too.  And we hope you see even more fantastic concerts in 2015!

Shawn Despres

Parquet Courts at Fuji Rock Festival (photo by Julen Esteban-Pretel (JulenPhoto) / Fujirock Express' 14)
Parquet Courts at Fuji Rock Festival (photo by Julen Esteban-Pretel (JulenPhoto) / Fujirock Express’ 14)

1. Parquet Courts @ Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) on July 25
2. Outkast @ Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) on July 27
3. Touché Amoré @ Gogos 2 on October 27
4. Moja @ V-Hall on October 11
5. Apollo 18 @ Soundholic Festival on June 22
6. Death From Above 1979 @ Riot Fest (Canada) on September 6
7. Galaxy Express @ Green Plugged on June 1
8. Ludistelo @ Freebird on May 17
9. Startline @ Freebird on March 22
10. Tie: 24 Hours @ Prism on June 6
Romantiqua with Kim Daeinn @ Freebird 2 on December 13

Mark Russell
(shows listed by date)

GeMF Mudaeruk

Note: I didn’t really go to a lot of shows this year (thanks, new baby), and when I did, I often went to see a particular band and didn’t stick around for the whole bill. But this is what I enjoyed last year.

GeMF @ Mudaeruk on February 23
Soul Train, Gopchang Jeongol @ Strange Fruit on March 1
GeMF @ Mudaeruk on March 23
Funkafric @ Strange Fruit on November 14

Jon Dunbar

Dr. Ring Ding at Sangsang Madang (photo by Jon Dunbar)
Dr. Ring Ding at Sangsang Madang (photo by Jon Dunbar)

1. Dr. Ring Ding and Kingston Rudieska @ Sangsang Madang on March 15
2. Heimlich County Gun Club @ Thunderhorse Tavern on March 29
3. Pegurians @ Ruailrock on May 31
4. Africa Sound Party @ Bar Alegria on February 21
5. Funkafric @ Blue Star on November 7
6. Crying Nut @ Club Spot on October 25
7. Skasucks @ New Generation of Ska Festival on August 30
8. Business @ Prism Live Hall on August 15
9. Ska 4 Ensemble @ All That Jazz on November 30
10. Tie: Durchfall @ Club Spot June 14
Sagal @ Jogwang Studio on May 24

Dain Leathem

Rippon Festival
Rippon Festival

1. Fat Freddy’s Drop @ Rippon Music Festival (New Zealand) on February 1
2. Empire of the Sun @ UMF Korea on June 14
3. Crying Nut X No Brain @ Let’s Rock Festival on September 20
4. Kasabian, The Inspector Cluzo, Idiotape @ Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival on August 2
5. St Vincent @ Yes24 Muv Hall on July 24
6. Diamond Dogs @ Thunderhorse Tavern on May 17
7. Tokimonsta @ Cakeshop on March 27
8. Yes Yes @ Freebird 2 on October 25
9. Messgram @ Thunderhorse Tavern on May 14
10. Whowho @ Soundholic Festival on June 21