Ice coffees are back in vogue, the moggies are starting to annoy us, and the World DJ Festival is over — all of which means that it’s pretty much summer and, more importantly, the outdoor music festival season is upon us.
Most of the big festivals from last year are back, one returns after a one-year hiatus, another celebrates its 10th year, one classic fest is really taking things up to a new level, and two seem strangely absent. So let’s do a roll call of who is doing what, when, and for how much. In chronological order, let’s meet the class of 2015!
Greenplugged — May 23-24
Nanji Camping Ground, Han River Park
66,000 won (1 day), 109,000 won (2 days)
Now an institution in sixth year, Greenplugged is a 2-day, multizone festival featuring a host of Korean acts across all genres. Headliners this year include (Saturday) YB, Dynamic Duo, and Sinawe (with Kim Bada), and (Sunday) MFBTY, Guckasten, Epitone Project, and Serengeti. There seems to be a strong hip hop focus and less rock than it used to have, but with such a nice location for live music I’m sure they will again attract a solid crowd.
Seoul Jazz Festival — May 23-25
123,000 won (1 day), 190,000 won (2 days), 287,000 won (3 days)
Another festival running this weekend, this one for three days, from Saturday till Monday, and encompassing a very broad variety of artists, including Chick Korea & Herbie Hancock, Basement Jazz, Owl City, Mika, Sergio Mendes, Gregory Porter, and The Cardigans, plus a large number of other international and domestic acts. With four zones and the advantage of being held over the Buddha birthday weekend, they really seem to have pulled out all the stops to make this one of the biggest festivals of the season. One could argue the “jazziness” of this event, but that seems to be the trend the world over, and I think they will draw record numbers this weekend.
Exit Festival — May 30-31
Now in its second year (after last year’s rain affected the launch), Exit has been moved to an earlier time and has a similar lineup, if not slightly stronger one. Two large outdoor zones backed up by a third smaller covered one, this all Korean fest brings together rock, pop, funk, and pretty much all genres for two fun days. Acts include Crying Nut, Clazziquai, Glen Check, No Brain, Galaxy Express, Yellow Monsters, Windy City, and about 75 more, so there is definitely bang for your buck.
Ultra Korea (UMF) — June 12-13
Now in its fourth year, and showing no signs of slowing down, Korea’s premier EDM event has unleashed some of the biggest names in the business, with Skrillex and David Guetta sure to attract huge numbers on their own. They will be joined by Alesso, Hardwell, Nicky Romero, Knife Party, and many more. Last year’s introduction of the “live arena” proved popular, and sees Snoop Dogg, CL, Galantis, Porter Robinson, 2ManyDJ’s, Lil Jon and others take the stage. It’s definitely the festival to beat in terms of dance.
Rainbow Island Music Festival — June 20-21
This 2-day, family-friendly event in the Gyeonggi countryside is back for its fifth year, and, after experimenting with a few international acts in the past, this year they’re keeping things strictly Korean. This fest will have the Kim Chang Won Band, Benzeeno, Sultan of the Disco, Mimi Sisters, The Barberettes, and many more.
Ansan Valley Rock Festival — July 24-26
Daebu Sea Breeze Theme Park
150,000 won (1 day), 220,000 won (2 days), 260,000 won (3 days)
This the second time Valley Rock has played in the Ansan Valley location (after missing last year), and the festival certainly got tongues wagging with their initial announcement that the Foo Fighters would be in attendance. They have been joined by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Deadmau5, OK Go, Rudimental, Motorhead, The Chemical Brothers, One OK Rock, Twenty One Pilots, and a host of local acts. We have heard that festival organizers have made a lot of changes to the layout and organization to make this year’s Valley Rock better than ever.
Pentaport Rock Festival — Aug. 7-9
Songdo Pentaport Park
110,500 won (1 day), 153,000 won (2 days), 187,000 won (3 days)
Ten years. TEN YEARS! The original is still rocking, and looking to celebrate a decade in style. Its lineup is still getting announced, but so far international acts include The Prodigy, Scorpions, and The Kooks, to help the early bird tickets sell out fast. Joined by the one and only Seo Taiji (who normally only plays festivals that have his name in the title), 10CM, Windy City, Yellow Monsters, Thornapple, and many more, it looks like it will be a fun birthday.
So far, there seems no word about Supersonic or CityBreak being held this year, although Let’s Rock has started selling blind tickets for its Sept. 19-20 dates. Global Gathering, coming Oct. 3, is also selling blind tickets for a big discount, while the Jarasum Jazz Festival will be held Oct. 9-11.