All posts by Dain

57 reasons to rock (all across Europe)

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Korean rock duo 57 are heading off for an extensive tour of the UK and Europe this May and June. Originally hailing from Jeonju, they have gone from strength to strength since relocating to Seoul. In 2015, they won the KT&G Band Discovery contest and reached the finals of the EBS Hello Rookie contest, and then in 2016 they were invited to the UK to perform at the Liverpool Sound City Festival (using the opportunity to perform around the UK for three weeks).

Now 57 is about to embark on an even bigger tour of Europe, spending seven weeks traveling the UK, France, Germany and Poland. The Korea Gig Guide was lucky enough to talk with the group before they flew out.

KGG: How are you guys feeling with regards to the upcoming tour of the UK?
We are crazy excited about the tour. It’s really long and we have so many shows. I hope that people are ready for us to come.

How are you approaching things differently this time compared to last year?
Last year’s tour was centered around an appearance at Liverpool Sound City. We emailed so many promoters and venues. Sadly, we hardly got any replies, just 5 or 6, I think. I think that one problem was that we started a little late last year. We did not realize how intense the competition was going to be. It is festival season over in Europe and so there are so many bands on tour. This year we have been working with Patrick from DoIndie to prepare the tour. We started much, much earlier this time around. I think we prepared the press pack and started reaching out to people in early November 2016. That early start really paid off and he has managed to get us 23 shows in the UK, France, Germany and Poland. Patrick’s family have even been helping out as well. His dad helped us buy a car to use for the tour and they are providing a place to stay as well as lending us their tents, sleeping bags, etc. We really appreciate all the help they are giving.

Having previously played in the UK, how does it feel to venture to other countries?
It always feels great to visit a new place. Every city seems to have it’s own unique atmosphere to enjoy. Also, each time we play a show in a new place, we don’t know if we’ll ever have the chance to go back there so we play it as it if it will be our last time to visit that place. We give it 120 percent and leave everything on the stage.

What was the biggest surprise about the shows last time?
It was a great surprise to me just to be able to be over in the UK performing. Of course, it was always a dream to do something like that, but it still felt like a dream even when it became reality. The whole thing was a bit of a challenge, as it was our first time playing outside of Korea. We learned a lot.

With 23 shows planned, how do you recharge the batteries in between shows, and what will you plan to do when not rocking out?
I have no idea! We will have to be like robots and just keep going. Actually, I am a little worried about that, but we will get through it. The adrenaline of the shows will keep us going I think. Also, Snow’s brother is coming with us to help with the driving and stuff. That means we should be able to recharge a little on the road. We have some days off from time to time as well so we will get a little sightseeing in and and relaxation time as well. I think as long as we eat well and sleep well we will be fine. We will take some energy from the audiences as well and use that to help get us though.

Could you tell us a bit about your debut album and what you’re working on now?
Our debut album consisted of seven songs that were made in the early days. The album’s title is “57” and contains a spectrum of sounds ranging from acoustic to powerful. We self-recorded that first album.

The new album which we plan to release in the summer this year is still to be recorded. We have put down some demo tracks, which are sounding great. But as soon as we come back from Europe we will be hitting the studio. This time round we won’t be self-recording it. It will all be done in a studio with the help of engineers, etc. I think it will be a much fuller sound. It’s going to be great anyway.

What’s the biggest challenge for yourself and other Korean independent bands when it comes to traveling and performing overseas?
I don’t know. It is a hard question to answer. From a booking perspective, I do not think it is any harder for Korean bands than it would be for unknown bands from any other country. Booking shows as an unknown band from anywhere is a real slog. It’s not just like you make the press pack, put it out there and people book you. You need to send thousands of emails and always chase everyone. It is really hard work.

On tour … I guess every band is different. Also, we have never put together a tour like this before, so I am not even sure what challenges we will face. I think the biggest challenge is to face up to your fears, overcome them and get on with achieving what you want to achieve. Even if you do not get the results you wanted from the tour, I think that the band grows and develops naturally from the experience of the tour itself. As the band grows, their music grows as well. I think that by meeting the challenges that arise and overcoming all the hurdles then it will have a positive effect on the band and the music we create.

Any final message for those who might come out and see you perform in the UK?
Please check us out on one (or more) of our shows on the Making Fire 2017 Europe Tour. We will be there, giving it everything we have at each show! We love meeting new people so come and say hi and share a drink with us. See you there!

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For more information, you can check out the links below and for those keep to see them in Europe, the dates are included too.

Facebook
Soundcloud
Bandcamp
Twitter

New Singles:
1) Making Fire:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/making-fire-single/id1230169333
https://play.spotify.com/album/2Zrm06kGJ6PFFnhOsW2d3F

2) Pray For The Dead
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pray-for-the-dead-single/id1230517488
https://play.spotify.com/album/5jSWf9PwZ3SR5DFnIVgZqh

Videos:
https://youtu.be/RoAyJuES_E0
https://youtu.be/vlsfpoD1F_Y
https://youtu.be/rp-CGJpiSTU

2017 Making Fire Tour Dates
May 11: Undegun (Focus Wales), Wrexham (UK)
May 12: ROC2 Studios (Focus Wales), Wrexham (UK)
May 13: The Pot, Rhyl (UK)
May 15: Prince Albert, Brighton (UK)
May 17: Dublin Castle, London (UK)
May 18: 81 Renshaw, Liverpool (UK)
May 19: Stramash, Edinburgh (UK)
May 21: Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough (UK)
May 26: Asylum, Chelmsford (UK)
May 29: West Street Club, Sheffield (UK)
June 2: Bei Ruth, Berlin (Germany)
June 7: Chlodna 25, Warsaw (Poland)
June 9: Seazone Music Conference, Sopot (Poland)
June 10: CKN Centrala, Gorzów (Poland)
June 11: Watch Docs Festival, Słupsk (Poland)
June 16: L’Alimentation Générale, Paris (France)
June 17: Lapin Blanc, Réding (France)
June 19: Fuel Cafe, Manchester (UK)
June 21: White Bear, Barnsley (UK)
June 22: The Exchange, Stoke (UK)
June 23: The Saddle, Chester Live Festival, Chester (UK)
June 24: The North, Rhyl (UK)
June 25: Club 147, Llandudno (UK)

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Korean Reggae Rises Again – This Saturday

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Rise Again 4 — a great night of Korean reggae, ska and dance hall — is here this Saturday (Dec. 17). Now in its fourth year, this annual festival looks stronger than ever, with some new faces and  familiar acts joining together for a great lineup.

Club Freebird in Hongdae hosts Rise Again, with a lineup that includes Kim Ban Jang & Windy City, Kingston Rudieska, Rude Paper, NST & the Soul Sauce, Orixa, Cool Running, Tehiun, and Oriental Showcus. They will be joined by dancers Ms. Friday, Saas, & Z. Sun. Also, great music will be provided by deejays/selectas In the Earth, Eastern Standard Sounds and East Jamrock — plus, all the way from Japan, Hayassen of Totalize.

Doors open at 7pm. Tickets cost 25,000 won ahead of time or 30,000 at the door.

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Festival Time Again

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.

Greenplugged 2015

Seoul Jazz Festival — May 23-25
Olympic Park
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.

Seouljazz2015

Exit Festival — May 30-31
Olympic Stadium
66,000-88,000 won

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
Olympic Stadium
180,000 won

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
Nami Island
44,000-66,000 won

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.

Rainbow Island 2015

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.

Pentaport 2015

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. 

We will try to keep you updated with all things festive and hope you get to enjoy the many sonic flavors on offer in the 2015 season.

Still Patients After All These Years

Ten years after forming, Korean “hybrid punk” rockers Patients continue to evolve and grow and 2015 is shaping up as an amazing year for the trio. With a newly released high-energy album called “18” to showcase and a return trip to the UK coming up, we thought it was time for a catch up with the group, so we spoke with vocalist and bassist Sumin Jo about “18” and Patients’ upcoming plans.

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You have been together since 2005, how have you grown as a band and changed your sound?

When I started the band, I was influenced by classic punk bands from the 1970s and wanted to be like them. But over the past decade, we’ve carved out our own identity.  Just copying other people’s style is not fun, so we’re continually trying new things in order to strengthen and expand our sound.

What has been the reaction since you moved to a keyboard-driven sound?

Our keyboardist Hyuckjang is like a one-man orchestra so he’s very helpful to the band!  Patients want to mix future-oriented sounds with elements of classic punk and Hyuckjang helps us do this.  Our old friends like the changes we’ve made.  And I like that we’re doing something different from other people.

Your new album, “18,” is full of energy and great for summer. What was the main inspiration for it?

In many ways, Korean society is in pain and many people have signs of darkness on their faces.  I think music is very important at this time and should help people who are searching for happiness.  That’s why we wanted to put bright songs on the album.  Most of the songs are energetic and sound upbeat, but some of the lyrics are a little sad.  However, I hope our music can comfort people and make them feel better.

How do you feel about the album now that it is out? What is each member’s favorite track?

Releasing this album gave me feelings of pleasure and pain – it kind of felt like what I imagine childbirth must be like!  My favourite song is “Let’s Drive, Let’s Go!”, Hyuckjang’s is “Hybrid Future,” and Jaehyuck’s is “R.I.P.”

You have Seoul shows coming up at Strange Fruit, Soundholic Festival 2015 Exit, and Sangsang Madang what can people expect from your live shows?

They can expect awesome playing and awesome songs.  We’re really excited about our new album and can’t wait to share the songs on it with everyone.

Steel Face Logo

Tell us about Steel Face Records and you intentions behind setting up your own label?

Steel Face Records was started so that Patients could have the ability to do whatever we wanted to.  Since it’s our own label, we have complete freedom to go in whichever direction we want.  We’re open to having others join us there too. So come on, let’s move forward together!

Who else is on Steel Face?

The other bands on Steel Face now are Cockrasher, One Hundred Blossom Club, and Dives.

You are heading off to the UK shortly for Liverpool Sound City. Why are you excited to play at the festival again?

We played at Liverpool Sound City for the first time last year and it was like being in heaven!  There were lots of cool groups and music fans from all over the world crowding the streets.  We were really happy to be a part of that.  We can’t wait to play there again in a few weeks!

How confident do you feel having already travelled there? Are you doing anything differently this time?

We explored around Liverpool a lot last year so we definitely have a good feel for the city now.  We think our two shows at the festival this year will be better and stronger than our performances in 2014 because we’ve got some great new music to share.  We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone at Liverpool Sound City again.

Lasting 10 years is a great effort for any band, do you have any advice for young bands coming through who want to last that long?

Being in a rock band can be hard sometimes and it can be challenging to find other band members that you trust and gel with.  But when you find those people, don’t hold anything back and move forward together.  Honestly, I don’t think we should be giving advice to young bands, but I do want to support them.  All of us should be fighting together!

Patients will play at Strange Fruit on Sunday night.  The show is being billed as a send off for Liverpool Sound City and also includes Dead Buttons and Monoban.  Tickets are 15,000 won and the show starts at 7 pm.

Strange Fruit Show

Here are Patients’ tour dates in the UK:
May 19 London, England @ Korea Cultural Centre UK
May 23 Liverpool, England @ The Heineken Tall Ship Stage (Kaskelot) – Liverpool Sound City
May 24 Liverpool, England @ The Cavern Stage – Liverpool Sound City

Patients UK Tour Poster

When they come back to Korea, Patients will play at Seoul’s Soundholic Festival 2015 Exit on May 30 and on June 12 the group will hold a special CD release concert for “18” at Sangsang Madang in Hongdae.

are taking their new album “18” back to the UK very shortly, and will be gracing the stages at the Liverpool Sound City for the second time.  But you can catch them live at the Exit Soundholic Festival at the end of May. “18” is out now.

Sangsang Madang

Sage Francis: Hip-Hop Hits the South

**KOREA GIG GUIDE HAS FREE TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY FOR SAGE FRANCIS’ DAEGU CONCERT. DETAILS ON HOW TO WIN THE TICKETS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST **

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 koreagigguide@gmail.com 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!

 

Review of the 2014 Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival

On August 2, I headed out to Penta Park in Songdo, Incheon, to see day two of the ninth annual Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival. Having been to Pentaport at both of its previous locations, I was keen to see if the new site justified the travel (about two hours from Apgujeong on the subway).

photo courtesy of Pentaport
(photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival)

Arriving at International Business District Station, I exited the station to the sounds of the festival, and after a short walk, finally arrived for my fifth Pentaport.  I was impressed by the grounds.  Whilst Penta Park may lack the vibrant natural setting of other festival sites, Pentaport was well thought out.  All the stages were close together with a nice camping area around the outskirts.  There was also a sizable food area and an excellent wide space set up for the main stage.  Each zone also managed to have its own unique atmosphere.

With regards to the music, I caught the tail end of Japan’s Orange Range’s energetic and engaging set on the Pentaport Stage.  The Mimi Sisters were charming the Moonlight Stage as I headed to the Reggae Zone for the first of the day’s surprises, Acollective.  Despite a few sound issues, the seven-piece group from Israel wowed a small but enthusiastic crowd with their unique sound and charismatic performance.  Describing themselves as a mix of “boogied-folk, electronic-jazz and a Middle Eastern-bluesy twang,” the group displayed many different sounds and influences, but still sounded cohesive and familiar.  This is an act that I definitely hope comes back to Korea.

Next up was The Inspector Cluzo on the roofed Dream Stage, and despite having high expectations, they absolutely blew me away. This two-piece French rock outfit take the basic idea of a band like the White Stripes or the Black Keys, and add loads of French charm, humor, and even a dash of house and lounge music into an otherwise loud, raucous show. Walking onto the stage dressed like a million dollars, drummer Phil Jourdain and guitarist/vocalist Malcom Lacrouts riled the crowd up before launching into their excellent set. They thanked their local fans, stating that it was in Korea (and Japan) where they first became popular, and finished things by reducing the drum kit mid-song, one piece at a time, without skipping a beat, until finally just the kick and snare remained. The Inspector Cluzo left the stage with many new fans and promised to return to Korea again.

I headed back to the Pentaport Stage for Boys Like Girls, who, whilst not being my cup of tea, worked the sizable crowd well.  Apparently this was their first show in over a year, and they ran out of songs so they finished by playing their hit “The Great Escape” a second time. I hung around for Idiotape, and having seen them in clubs, was eager to see how they were received on the main stage at such a large rock festival. I needn’t have worried; they swiftly proved that they deserved their spot.  A tight set, electrifying visuals, a wonderful sunset, and some fun camera work of the dancing crowd made it an amazing performance.

Kasabian photo courtesy of Pentaport
Kasabian (photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival)

I popped back to the Dream Stage to check out The Horrors, but I found them a little downbeat and headed back to the main stage for Kasabian. I first became a fan of Kasabian after seeing them at Pentaport in 2008, and love their latest album “48:13.”  The band stormed onstage to loud applause with “Bumblebee” and had the crowd eating out of their palms. Next came “Shoot the Runner,” albeit with a little Kanye West thrown in, and for the next 90 minutes it was hit after hit for the Pentaport audience.  There were a few little surprises and it was great to hear “Doberman.”  They played a mix of songs from all five albums with a few covers and samples thrown in.  For me, it was an absolutely stomping set, delivered by a band at the peak of their popularity, and a great end to the day. They were worthy headliners and the crowd seemed to really enjoy all that they did.

After my ride home fell threw, I tried to get a shuttle bus home.  But the buses were sold out, which was frustrating, as at 15,000 won it seemed like it wouldn’t have costed the organizers very much to have more buses on hand.  So instead I literally ran for the subway, and made it halfway home before the trains finished and I had to take a taxi the rest of the way.  But this was my only complaint about an otherwise awesome day.  I look forward to next year when Pentaport celebrates its tenth anniversary!

(photo courtesy of Pentaport)
(photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival)

 

 

Pentaport Still Rocks!

Since 2006, the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival has been an important part of Korea’s musical landscape.  This year’s fest will take place from August 1 – 3 at Penta Park in Incheon. Offering a mix of huge international acts, popular Korean legends, and up-and-coming bands, alongside DJs and great food, the fest is well-suited for a weekend of rocking out!

Pentaport Banner

Big International names on this summer’s bill include Kasabian, Travis, Starsailor, Boys Like Girls, The Horrors, Suicidal Tendencies, Maximo Park, and The Inspector Cluzo. Korean acts include iconic rock/pop singer Lee Seung Hwan, Daybreak, Idiotape, Crash, Kingston Rudieska, Rux, and many others. The music plays out over five stages, and begins around lunchtime on all three days.

Main stage headlining acts Kasabian and Travis both previously played at Pentaport in 2008. At that time, Travis received a fantastic reception closing the main stage on Saturday, one they appreciated so much they came back to Korea the following year. Their mix of pop, rock, and feel-good vibes has made them fan favorites here. Currently gigging in support of their seventh album, last year’s “Where You Stand,” the Scottish rock act were last in Korea in March, but that’s not stopping Travis from coming back to wow local audiences once more.

Back when they played at Pentaport in 2008, Kasabian had only released two albums but have since grown to become one of the UK’s biggest bands. Their fifth album, “48:13,” came out in June and quickly rose to the top of the British music charts, just like their previous three albums did. Renowned as a killer live act, earlier this summer Kasabian was one of he headliners at Glastonbury.

Tickets for Pentaport cost 110,000 won for one day, 154,000 won for two days, and 187,000 won for all three days of the fest. Tickets can be purchased at the main gates all weekend long. Check out the full timetable for all of this weekend’s performances here.

Incheon Pentaport Rock Fest Poster

Rocking out in Daegu for Big Day South

This weekend, there will be a whole helping of noise rocking from Daegu during the city’s first Big Day South festival.  With a focus on not only putting on a great night, but also striving to showcase a taste of the talent and creativity that exists in the area, the organizers are also keen to bridge the gap between the foreign and Korean communities.

Big Day South Picture

[b]racket Magazine, I Like Many Records, and Angle Magazine have teamed up to present this event that promises the cream of the crop from not only Daegu, but also Busan and Ulsan, and there are even a few top-quality acts traveling from Seoul to perform. Two great venues, craft store Social Market and iconic music hall Club Urban, are sharing the hosting duties that will see musicians, dancers, and even spoken word performers take the stage.

Dogstar, November on Earth, Colours, The Curses, Say Sue Me, Yamagata Tweakster, Yukari, and many others are to be joined by Andrew Blad, Mine Lee, as well as art demonstrations from Leon Choi, William Joseph Leitzman, and Moke. There will also be food for sale, with all proceeds going to local charities. More details can be found on Facebook, including directions, so follow the link below and do support this great event.

Where: Social Market (12 – 4pm) & Club Urban (5pm – late)
When: Saturday April 26th
How much: 15,000W for a day ticket. Concessions will be available for those wanting to enjoy just one of the venues.
PLUS: The first 70 people to buy all-day tickets at Social Market will receive a wonderful screen-printed poster from [b]racket magazine’s very talented Jess Hinshaw.

Find out more about Big Day South here.

Big Day South Poster

 

Crying Nut Take On the World

There are a few essential experiences for any Korean resident – like eating kimchi, a night in the noraebang, a photo from Seoul Tower – to name a few. Another not-to- be-missed experience is to see local legends Crying Nut perform live.

Crying Nut 3

Iconic indie punksters Crying Nut need little introduction. Having formed in 1993, they made their live debut at Club Drug in 1995. Since then, they have released seven albums, sold hundreds of thousands of albums, played every stage possible up and down Korea multiple times, and even made various trips overseas. The five piece are often referred to as leaders of the “Chosun Punk” sound, but labels do not fit well. Their sound has been known to include punk, rock, metal, folk, reggae, rap, and more, all delivered with high levels of energy and their legendary sense of humor.

They are also officially the best-selling indie act in Korea, although that doesn’t stop them from regularly playing in small clubs in Hongdae to this very day – simply because they love what they do and are so brilliant at it. However, 2014 finds them not sitting back, enjoying their fame and being idle. They are preparing to head on their second tour of the US, which will included a stop at the SXSW Music Festival, and Korea Gig Guide was lucky enough to talk to lead singer/ guitarist Park Yoonsik and keyboardist/ accordion player Kim Insoo about their new album, their March American concerts, and how they prepare for their live shows. Enjoy the interview!

How would you best describe your band to new fans?

Park Yoonsik:  I’d say we’re energetic, romantic, and fantastic!

Kim Insoo:  Hmm … how about the kings of chaos?  Or maybe the hardest working men in the party business?

Flaming Nuts Album Cover

When did you start writing songs for Flaming Nuts?  When was the album recorded?

Kim Insoo:  We started recording Flaming Nuts in the winter of 2012, but we took a break from recording to focus on some concerts.  When we started working on the album again, our schedule was really tight because our manger booked our album release concert even though the album was still being made.  And then he went ahead and moved the album deadline up despite us already being short on time.  That bastard!

Crying Nut have been playing music for a long time.  What motivates you to keep making new albums?

Park Yoonsik: Yes, we’ve been playing for a long time, but our thinking has changed a lot between now and when we were 20 years old.  Always being able to approach our music with different mindsets is what keeps us making new albums.

Kim Insoo:  We keep making new music because it’s fun to do.  I can’t think of anything more fun than being in a rock band.

Flaming Nuts has lots of different influences and sounds on it.  Are you ever worried that a new track is too different from Crying Nut’s sound?  How far would you stretch “Crying Nut’s” sound?  Would you ever include country music, hip-hop, dubstep, etc. in a new song?

Park Yoonsik: We don’t worry about our sound too much.  We just make music that we think is fun.

Kim Insoo:  Our other albums have a lot of different influences and sounds on them as well.  Flaming Nuts isn’t so different from them.  It may be tough to work dubstep into a future song because I don’t know exactly what dubstep is.  I have a hard time distinguishing dubstep no matter how much I listen to it.  It just sounds like FSOL to me.

How is Flaming Nuts different from your other albums?

Park Yoonsik: We made Flaming Nuts completely on our own.  We did all the writing, recording, producing, mixing, and mastering all by ourselves.  I’m really proud of all the work we did.

Kim Insoo:  Flaming Nuts is also the shortest album we’ve ever made!

Why are you guys excited about playing at SXSW again?

Park Yoonsik: We’re really honored to be able to play at SXSW again.  I’d love for us to do some busking-style street performances during the fest if we can.  When we played at SXSW in 2012, we met a great band named Melvoy from San Francisco.  I’m hoping me can meet lots more awesome musicians this time around and become friends with them too.

Kim Insoo:  We had a lot of fun in Texas during SXSW 2012, so I’m happy to go back.  Maybe there will be a lot more people at our show this time because of Psy.

What were some of your best memories from your 2012 US tour?

Park Yoonsik:  Meeting Melvoy during a gig they played on the street in Austin was really cool.  I’m glad we could become friends with them.  During our official SXSW showcase, too many people packed into the venue where we played and the police came.  It was definitely a cool rock ‘n’ roll moment!

Kim Insoo: I met lots of Mexican people while I was in Texas.  They were always smiling and really kind.  They bought us beer and tequila too!  During SXSW, some bands gave us free CDs.  They helped inspire us to produce Flaming Nuts on our own.

What are your goals for your March 2014 US concerts?

Park Yoonsik:  We’re going to play some gigs in Texas and California, have a lot of fun, and hopefully make lots of new fans and friends.

Kim Insoo:  I hope that we play hard and drink hard!  I’d love to go to a gun range in Hollywood where you can shoot guns from World War II, but I don’t think there will be time for that.

Do you get nervous playing for non-Korean audiences in other countries?  Do you prepare for concerts overseas any differently?

Park Yoonsik:  I don’t get nervous at all, but it is more challenging to communicate with audiences in a different language.

Kim Insoo:  For concerts in the US we do prepare differently.  We need to make sure we have US power adaptors, 110V!  We’ve got no choice over that one!

Crying Nut has released a lot of music.  How do you choose your set list for concerts?  Do you feel guilty if you don’t play popular songs like “Luxembourg” or “Speed Up Losers”?

Park Yoonsik:  We work together to make set lists.  I don’t feel guilty about not playing certain songs at concerts.  I think we’ve got a lot of good songs.

Kim Insoo:  We usually talk about set lists the day before a gig. We have many members, so everyone always has different songs that they want to play.  We decide together which ones we want to play.  We do a lot of gigs, so everyone eventually gets the songs they want in a set list.

What songs from Flaming Nut are your favorites to play live? Why?

Park Yoonsik: I like to play “Lego.”  I think it sounds cool and the lyrics are good too.

Kim Insoo:  I like “Summer” because it sounds like Mexican music.

Crying Nut has played many, many concerts since 1995.  What have been some of your favorite concerts to play? Why?

Park Yoonsik: Our 15th anniversary concert was one of my favorites.  We got to decorate the stage how we wanted and the sound was perfect.  We recorded the show for a DVD too.

Kim Insoo:  It’s hard to choose, but I really enjoyed our Tokyo concert that we played at Shinjuku Red Cloth on February 9.  The person who organized the show is a Crying Nut fan and a friend of ours.  Many fans in Tokyo came to the show even though it was snowing heavily.  I was really touched.

Crying Nut 16

Lastly, if someone is going to see a Crying Nut concert, what food and drink should they have before the concert to get prepared?

Park Yoonsik: They should eat nachos and drink lot s of beer.

Kim Insoo: They should eat dried chili mango and drink beer and Southern Comfort.

Crying Nut will open for Yellow Monsters on Sunday, February 23 at Sangsang Madang in Hongdae.  The show starts at 6 pm and tickets are 40,000 won.  Galaxy Express and Asian Chairshot will also play opening slots.

Feb 23 Gig

Here are the dates for Crying Nut’s US tour:
March 8 Pomona, CA @ Characters

March 9 Los Angeles, CA @ Redwood Bar & Grill

March 11 Austin, TX @ (10:30 pm) Elysium (Official SXSW Showcase)

March 13 Austin, TX @ (5:15 pm) Spider House Cafe and Ballroom (The Texas Rock N Roll Massacre 2)

March 14 Austin, TX @ (4:30 pm) The Dog & Duck Pub (Exchange Entertainment presents)

March 15 Austin, TX @ (6 pm) Antone’s Records (Freddie Steady’s 14th Annual Frontier a Go Go Rock & Roll Hootenanny)

March 16 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight

March 18 Los Angeles, CA @ Cafe Nela

So Many Fests!

With a few great festivals having taken place this year already, the next three months sees a plethora of big events for music lovers in South Korea. No matter what genre you are into, there is something for you, and it begs the question, is there too much?

Here is a brief overview of what you can expect in summer 2013 in terms of big music festivals.

Ansan Valley Rock Festival – So the spin off from Pentaport has now changed its location and name, only for someone else to steal their previous name and location. Confused? This one is the team that has been behind the last four Jisan Valley Rock Festivals, and has now moved to Daebu Island, but is keeping the same dates and set up. With a very strong line up, including big names Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Skrillex, Stereophonics, My Bloody Valentine, The XX, Foals, and Fun performing alongside a range of other acts, this continues to be the one to beat this summer. Will the new location improve things?

One- and three-day tickets, plus camping packs, are all on sale, and the fest takes place on the last weekend of July, from the 26-28th.  One-day tickets cost 140,000 won in advance and 160,00 won at the gates.  Three-day tickets cost 240,000 won in advance and 260,000 won at the gates.  Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Jisan World Rock Festival– The old venue, almost the old name, but an all-new event – the first Jisan World Rock Festival has surely surprised a few people with its strong line up. Jamiroquai, Placebo, Weezer, Nas, The Dandy Warhols and Switchfoot join an array of local and Japanese bands. Taking place on August 2-4, it could be the dark horse of the summer.

There’s a 10% discount on tickets until July 31.  One-day tickets are currently 112,500 won (but go up to 125,000 won on August 1).  Two-day tickets are 162,000 won (but go up to 180,000 won on August 1).  Three-day tickets are 225,000 won (but go up 250,000 won on August 1).  Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival – The oldest running event, going since 2006, has a few big names at this year’s edition.  Most notably Suede and Fall Out Boy, along with veterans Steelheart, Skid Row, Testament, and more recent acts like Blood Red Shoes, The Big Pink and Glasvegas. It’s handily located in Incheon and it takes place on August 2-4, meaning people have to make a big decision between Pentaport and Jisan World Rock Festival.

There’s a 5% discount on tickets until August 1.  One-day tickets are currently 94,000 won (but go up to 99,000 won on August 2).  Two-day tickets are 135,800 won (but go up 143,000 won on August 2).  Three-day tickets are 156,700 won (but go up to 165,000 won on August 2).  Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Super Sonic – In its second year, this two-day, mid-week festival is showing a nice variety, with big names including the Pet Shop Boys, John Legend, Earth Wind & Fire, Two Door Cinema Club, Hot Chelle Rae, and Will Moon, along with locals like Glen Check, Cho Yong Pil and Dickpunks. Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Citybreak – I waited with baited breath to see which festival would secure the two biggest names performing in Japan at Summer Sonic, only for none of them to grab Metallica and Muse.  So I was quite please to see this all-new event that is being shaped around them.  Along with the above mentioned headliners, this fest has already added Limp Bizkit, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Ash, Japandroids, Rise Against, The Used, Rocket From the Crypt, and White Lies along with Apollo 18, Kiha & Faces, and Goonam. Information on buying tickets in English is here.

There are also a few smaller events that are definitely worth checking out, most with predominantly local line ups, but they are all definitely worth your time.

Horock Horock festival in Daejeon (July 5-6)

Stepping Stone Festival in Jeju (July 13)

Busan International Rock Festival (Aug 2-4)

Lets Rock Festival (Sep13-14)

We will try to keep you up-to-date as more acts are added to all of the above events, so keep checking out Korea Gig Guide and good luck with your 2013 summer fest decisions.