All posts by mark

Keep on gigging…

So, if you’ve checked out KGG over the past few months, you’ve probably noticed that not a lot has been posted at the calendar. And sadly I don’t see that changing in the near future.

What can I say? Things change. Shawn left Korea a couple of years ago. I have a family now, so don’t really have much time for going to concerts.

But, even more importantly, there’s no longer the same need for a concert-listing website. When I started the Korea Gig Guide in 2008, it was an unbelievable pain-in-the-butt to find shows in Korea. Most bands did not have their own websites and Facebook wasn’t in much use in Korea. Bands and clubs often did have Daum cafes or Cyworld pages, but all-too-often they were badly maintained or behind a security wall. There weren’t many websites – in English or Korean – where people could learn about the groups and the indie scene.

Today, there are many options. Almost all the groups and clubs are on Facebook. There are multiple concert listing websites in English, and plenty of English-language materials about the scene. There just is not the same need that were was when I started, nearly a decade ago.

We might post the occasional story here, and the KGG Facebook page is still going strong. But for the most part, the Korea Gig Guide is going dormant. If you were a reader of KGG, thanks a lot for checking us out and helping local artists. Keep supporting good music. Cheers!

Myungshin Ki Memorial Night Tonight at Strange Fruit

Two of Seoul’s finest indie bands, Crying Nut and Galaxy Express, will take to the stage at Strange Fruit in Hongdae tonight (March 5) at 7pm in commemoration of and tribute to their friend and fellow rock lover, Myungshin Ki.

myungshin

Known for his passionate love of and tireless efforts to promote the “rock spirit” of Hongdae both here and abroad, Myungshin headed indie label Love Rock where he helped to grow and develop some serious talent, including the likes of Galaxy Express, Dead Buttons, Pavlov, Yksi and Victim Mentality. He passed away a year ago, tragically taking his own life, but his spirit lives on in the music halls of Hongdae, the hearts of those he touched, and in the music he helped give life to.

Close friends Galaxy Express shared a few words about what Myungshin means to them and why they are performing in his honor. Bassist Lee Juhyun explains, “It’s been a year and so his friends are going to gather to remember him, so we can meet up and talk about him. We wanted to create this kind of opportunity. Because he had a big network and knew so many people, we decided to gather [like this] and commemorate him.”

“While we have a few drinks and sit around chatting and cursing,” adds drummer Kim Heekwon with a reminiscent smile. Then there’s a pause: “Feels like such a long time. Can’t believe it’s been just a year. He visited me in a dream last night and told me he’s doing well. I still can’t believe he’s gone.”

Vocalist Park Jonghyun adds, “It doesn’t feel like he’s left us. Just feels like he’s gone really far away. Let’s create a great memory together for him!”

Seoul-based rocker Max Reynolds first met Myungshin in 2012 when he brought Galaxy Express to his hometown of Texas. Inspired by the music scene in Seoul that Myungshin had done so much to nurture, Max eventually packed up his life in Texas and moved to Seoul, developing a close friendship with Myungshin. Of his late friend, he relates: “Over the years he really taught me what friendship was all about. He didn’t care where you were from or what you looked like or what kind of music you played. He wanted to include everyone. I try to be more like him every day.”

Strange Fruit opens at 7pm and tickets are 20,000 won at the door. It is likely that tickets will sell out fast.

Jambinai and Mono: Post-Rock blasts into Platform 61

It’s dark, grungy, soaring post-rock fun! Korea’s Jambinai and Japan’s Mono will be teaming up for a big show on Jan. 21 at Platform 61, the new creative venue that recently opening in Chang-dong, Dobong-gu.

mono-seoul-1242x1242

Both groups have enjoyed very strong reviews and ratings for their most recent releases from a whole bunch of music websites, like Allmusic (Jambinai and Mono). So having these two hot groups together on one bill should be a lot of fun.

Ssako, Jambinai’s manager, wrote to the KGG to say that he was concerned the online ticketing could be tricky for non-Korean speakers hoping to check out the show, so he is suggesting an alternative.

Just email hivcore@daum.net, and leave your name and the number of tickets you want. Then on the day of the show, you can pick up your tickets at the Platform 61 box office for the same price as the advanced sales, just 66,000 won (at the door, they will be 77,000 won). You can pay by cash or credit card.

Platform 61 is located close to Changdong Station, on subway line No. 4, in northeast Seoul.

To get a sense of the noisy glory that is Mono, here is the music video for their “Requiem for Hell”:

And Jambinai’s “They Keep the Silence”:

Radio blah-blah

Former heresiarch Grand Poobah at the Korea Gig Guide Shawn Despres has been back in Canada for about a year and a half now, and for much of that time he has been hosting a weekly radio program on CFMU called “Sounds From the Korean Underground.” Definitely one of the best ways people not living in Korea have to learn about the Korean indie scene.

On last Sunday’s show, because I happened to be back in Canada visiting family, Shawn was nice enough to invite me to join in. The result was an hour of us blathering and playing some of my favorite Korean music — mostly from the 1970s and 1990s. It was a lot of fun.

mark-shawn-cfmu

You can listen here on Mixcloud. And for people who like to listen to music online, I recommend you check in regularly on “Sounds From the Korean Underground.”

Music history keeps moving on

A couple of events recently have made me all too aware of how everything is constantly changing in Korea, including the music scene. The biggest news of late (imho) is that the best music store in Korea, Hyang Music, is finally shutting down, closing its doors on March 12.

Hyang opened in 1991 and was going strong when I first arrived in Seoul back in the late 1990s. Back then, Korea was full of music stores (around 5,000 is the most common number I’ve seen), with several huge Tower Records around Seoul, a huge Hot Trax at Kyobo Books, and countless small shops seemingly on every corner. But most of them died out when the music market collapsed in Korea more than a decade ago. Even Hongdae’s great Purple Records closed last year, and now Hyang has fallen, too.

Even in the heyday of the music industry, Hyang was still the shop to go to, especially for local indie music. Back then, it felt like you could keep up with most of the CDs being released by the local indie scene, and if I could find a release, I usually bought a copy. Hyang was a tiny store, but it was in such a convenient location for me, on the road connecting the Shinchon Subway Station and the Yonsei main gate (being around the corner from Voodoo Bar, my favorite hangout way back then, helped, too). I couldn’t begin to guess all the CDs I bought there.

Clubs, too, are always opening and closing in Korea. Ruail Rock recently shut its doors, for instance. One of the first clubs in Seoul that I used to go to was Master Plan, which was located in Nogosan-dong, about halfway between Shinchon and Donggyo-dong. I used to go for the indie rock music, but soon after it turned into a hiphop club, and for quite a while it was at the heart of the Korean indie hiphop scene.

Now the fine young music writer Emma Kalka has published a fine history of Master Plan in the latest Groove Magazine. It’s an excellent and informative read, totally worth your time.

I’m old and boring now, so don’t go out very music. But I don’t want to be one of those boring old fossils who complains about how much better things used to be. I’m sad to be losing Hyang Music, just as I’m sad to have lost the other music stores and clubs. But change isn’t all negative, and the music scene today is probably bigger and more interesting than it’s been since I’ve been in Korea. So cheers to Hyang and Master Plan and everyone else who has gone before. And I’m looking forward to hearing all the music that comes next.

(Cross-posted to my personal website).

Love X Stereo is asking for a little help

Annie and Toby, the very nice people behind the excellent group Love X Stereo, are looking for a little help funding their latest EP, We Love, We Leave, Part 2. So they’ve set up a PledgeMusic page asking for pre-orders, which will go to creating the new music.

There are three levels of support offered, so it’s an easy way to buy some good music and help a band out. And they’ve set up a couple of previews, so you can check out if it’s your sort of music — but if you like catchy electropop, it probably is.

Love X Stereo is going to be playing at SXSW again this year, and will play in San Francisco as well, so if you’re in the neighborhood, you should check them out.

LoveXStereo

 

 

Summer Festivals Ramping Up Again

Hard to believe that the summer festival season is starting up already, but it is. We have the return of the Valley Rock Festival to Jisan. It runs July 22-24 and its first lineup gets announced in a few hours, but it looks like Radiohead is going to be on the bill.

(UPDATE: Well, no Radiohead in the first announcement. So far, just two bands: Kula Shaker and Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Valleyrock tease

Beautiful Mint Life runs May 14-15, and its first lineup gets announced early next week.

Green Plugged Seoul is May 21-22, and will have Crying Nut, 3rd Line Butterfly, Galaxy Express, Winterplay, Pavlov and more.

The Seoul Jazz Festival is May 28-29, and it actually has announced a lot of artists: Corinne Bailey Rae, Pat Metheny, Terence Blanchard, Rufus Wainright, Nat King Cole Tribute Band, and plenty more to come.

UMF Korea is June 10-12.

Some of the shows have English ticketing on Interpark, but I’ll try to have better links as they turn up.

 

2 of the biggest Korean acts together on Tuesday

Sorry for the last-minute notice, but I just saw that 3rd Line Butterfly and Pipi Band (aka Ppippi Band, aka PPPB) are going to be playing tomorrow, Dec. 29 at West Bridge in Hongdae. Such a good lineup. If you’re looking for a good gig over the holidays, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better.

Ppippi

PpiPpi Band was the indie band back when I first arrived in Korea in the late 1990s, totally mesmerizing but also the anti-K-pop group. I think I bought and mailed off pirated versions of their second album to more than a dozen friends.

PpiPpiBand2 copy

3rd Line Butterfly is also a favorite group. I really enjoyed them in earlier bands (Huckleberry Finn for Nahm Sang-ah, 99 and other groups for Sung Kiwan). They’ve been doing smart, fun alt-rock for around 15 years now.

3rd line butterfly

The show starts at 8pm on Dec. 29 at West Bridge Hall, the new concert hall across the street from Seogyo-dong Cathedral. Tickets are 35,000 won at the door.

Help Juck Juck Grunzie get to Glastonbury

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Juck Juck Grunzie — heck, they were the first group I ever covered on this website. Well, things have been going well with the group, and now they’ve gotten an invitation to play at this year’s Glastonbury festival at the end of June (and at Berghain in Berlin on July 1).

However, traveling to Europe isn’t cheap, so the group will be holding a fundraising concert this Saturday evening at DGBD in Hongdae at 11pm. The show is just 10,000 won, and includes Table People, Baekma, and Cranfield.

It should be a lot of fun, and you’d be helping one of the best bands in Korea, so check it out!

JuckJuck Fundraiser