All posts by Shawn

Round Robin Returns

**KOREA GIG GUIDE HAS FREE TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY FOR THE ROUND ROBIN CONCERT AT ROLLING HALL. DETAILS ON HOW TO WIN THE TICKETS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST **

After a nearly two-year break, the Round Robin concert series is making its return on Saturday night (July 19) at Rolling Hall in Seoul.

Started in late 2009, nine editions of Round Robin were organized in Seoul and Busan before the event went on hiatus in the fall of 2012.  The concept behind Round Robin shows is that all the bands set up in different parts of the venue and take turns playing one song at a time until the show is finished. There are no breaks between acts.  As soon as one band finishes a track, the next group starts playing.

For Saturday’s Round Robin comeback, there will be two rounds of acts.  The first grouping features Patients, Yamagata Tweakster, November on Earth, and Gonguri.  And the second one will have Electro Seniors, Sighborggggg, Billy Carter, and Yuppie Killer all performing.

Patients 4

This past May saw Seoul self-dubbed “hybrid punk” trio Patients embarking on their first UK tour.  They made a special tour-only EP prior to the trek called “Let’s Drive Let’s Go!” and plan to start work on a new full-length album soon. This will be the band’s first time playing at Round Robin.

“We’re addicted to playing gigs and love performing at all kinds of shows,” says bassist and vocalist Sumin Jo.  “Round Robin seems like a really unique idea so we’re excited about Saturday’s concert.”

Jo is also looking forward to seeing what kind of unique playlist is created as all of the acts mix their songs together into one extended set.

“We’re going to play energetic, danceable songs at Round Robin,” he says.  “We hope our music will help make Round Robin’s atmosphere bright and merry.  We think our songs mixing with Yamagata Tweakster’s will make a really happy and joyful sound.  This is our first time playing with Gonguri and November on Earth so we’re not sure how our band’s music will mix with theirs.  But it’s going to be interesting to see how everything fits together.”

Billy Carter

The bluesy Billy Carter recently expanded from a duo to a trio and will be showing off the skills of new drummer Hyunjoon Lee at Round Robin.

“We added a drummer to give our music a more different sound and challenge ourselves,” shares vocalist Jiwon Kim. “Now we can play freer.”

Like Patients, Billy Carter are intrigued by how Round Robin works and think the concert will be very cool.

“It’s a totally new form of show for us,” says Kim. “It’s going to be really fun and exciting!”

Round Robin takes place on Saturday night at Hongdae’s Rolling Hall.  The show starts at 7 pm and tickets are 20,000 won in advance and 25,000 won at the door.  Advance tickets can be purchased here. Patients, Yamagata Tweakster, November on Earth, and Gonguri will play in the first round. The second round will have Electro Seniors, Sighborggggg, Billy Carter, and Yuppie Killer. You can check out the Facebook event page for the show here.

Round Robin Poster

 Want to win a pair of free tickets to see Round Robin at Rolling Hall?  Korea Gig Guide has 2 pairs of tickets to give away for Saturday’s concert.  To 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 5 pm on Friday (July 18) and we’ll notify winners by 6 pm that day.  Good luck!

Beatniks, Juck Juck Grunzie, and T-Shirts Sunset Collaborate with Bellydancers at Shake Shop 16

Saturday night (June 28) will see Beatniks, Juck Juck Grunzie, and T-Shirts Sunset all collaborating with bellydancers Eshe and Navah for the Korea Gig Guide co-presented Shake Shop show at Club Freebird.

Beatniks

May saw electro-accented rock act Beatniks celebrate their first anniversary.  The last dozen months were quite busy for these eager up-and-comers.  They started playing gigs quickly after forming and released a five-track demo when they were barely three months old.

“It’s been a crazy year,” shares vocalist Yoo Han-kyul. “We played a lot gigs and weren’t really ready at first.  We started playing shows three weeks after we all met each other, so we were trying to figure out our sound as we were playing gigs.  So basically our first year was somewhat a mix of a lot of shows and rehearsals.”

With all members of the group liking different styles of music, the guys are still experimenting with things as they strive to carve out their own unique sound.  And with each passing month they are gaining a better understanding of what they want to be.

“We first thought that as a band everyone needed to sacrifice something to make music,” Yoo says. “We’re still not sure about how we want to sound exactly, but we’ve learned that sacrificing isn’t the way.  It’s more of a friendly fight where we try to make something all of us can truly enjoy.”

Saturday night will be Beatniks first time doing any kind of collaboration and they are excited about the challenge.

“We love bellydancing,” says Yoo.  “We think our music will work well with bellydancing because we have some parts where we jam.  And our music has a lot of energy as well.”

Juck Juck Grunzie Photo

Juck Juck Grunzie played at Shake Shop in spring 2013 and Eshe has been trying to get them back for another collaboration ever since.  The noisy, psychedelic rock quartet are happy to be working with Eshe and Navah again too.

“Our first time playing at Shake Shop was fantastic,” says bassist Booooong.  “The dancers used colorful veils while we played and it looked like multi-colored waves.  Every time we made eye contact with Eshe, we felt like we were standing with a goddess.”

According to Booooong, Juck Juck Grunzie are intentionally only scheduling a few gigs this summer.  They are instead hoping to use their time to try and write new songs for the follow-up to their last excellent Psycho full-length debut.

As for this weekend’s concert at Freebird, Booooong is confident that Juck Juck Grunzie and the bellydancers will once again create something very cool and memorable together.

“We’re all looking forward to seeing what the ladies come up for this collaboration.  It’s always interesting to work together with artists who are different from us.  Eshe and Navah are always positive and have lots of great energy.”

T-shirts sunset

Rounding out the bill for Shake Shop Vol. 16 is T-Shirts Sunset.  The new two-piece act (whose membership sometimes grows for live performances) features Kim Jae-kwon of Cocore and .59 fame.

“We’ve know each other for more than 10 years but we’ve only been playing as T-Shirts Sunset for two months,” says Kim.

The two members share a love of improvisation and plan to incorporate a fair amount of it into their songs and performances.

“We want our music to be a balance of things that we want to do, and things that were unexpected and interesting.”

Shake Shop Vol. 16 takes place on Saturday, June 28 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 8:30 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Beatniks, Juck Juck Grunzie, and T-Shirts Sunset.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Shake Shop Poster

Guitar Wolf’s Seoul Gigs Will Be “Hot And Spicy Like Kimchi!”

This weekend, Japanese garage punk legends Guitar Wolf will be making their third appearance in Korea in as many years.  The wild and noisy trio are set to wow local crowds with their self-described “jet rock ‘n’ roll” during a pair of Seoul shows at Prism in Hongdae on Friday (June 27) and at WAV Bistro & Lounge on Saturday (June 28).

Guitar Wolf Pic

Last summer Guitar Wolf were in Korea to perform at the short-lived Jisan World Rock Festival.  And in 2012 they teamed up with Seoul rockabilly band The Rock Tigers for a three-city Korean tour.  According to guitarist and vocalist Seiji (the Guitar Wolf himself), gigging around the country with The Rock Tigers was a really fun experience.

“Back in 2012 we were very happy to be able to play in Busan,” Seiji says. “We went to another city (Jeonju) the next day and only four or five people showed up at the gig, but it’s still part of our exciting memories of the tour. After our Seoul show, we went drinking and one of the members of Crying Nut passed out. And we were really surprised because The Rock Tigers paid the whole bill at the end of the night.  There were around 30 people there and we thought everyone would go Dutch, but The Rock Tigers paid for all of us.  Korean people are very hard workers!”

Of course, The Rock Tigers have since evolved into Streetguns.  Considering The Rock Tigers toured both the US (2011) and Korea (2012) with Guitar Wolf, it comes as no surprise that Streetguns will also be playing at each of Guitar Wolf’s Seoul shows this weekend.  Seiji is interested to hear his friends’ new music.

“I loved The Rock Tigers,” says Seiji.  “Tiger’s playing was great and Velvet Geena’s actions were brilliant.  I haven’t listened to Streetguns yet, but I’m really looking forward to seeing their live show.”

Beast Vibrator Cover

Guitar Wolf are currently gigging in support of their excellent eleventh full-length, Beast Vibrator.  Released last year, the album is packed with raucous, ragged rock ‘n’ roll cuts.  Beast Vibrator even has a small Korean connection.  The track “Robot Maria” was partly inspired by Sanullim’s iconic “Naughty Boy” song.

“Nowadays, smartphones and the internet are everywhere and people depend on technology too much,” says Seiji.  “One day, I just thought ‘Be a beast!  Don’t forget the wild instincts of beasts!  Shake like a beast!’  I like the way Beast Vibrator sounds.  It sounds chaotic.”

Renowned for their hard and loud live performances, expect to witness plenty of exciting, beast-like behavior when Guitar Wolf tear up the stages at Prism and WAV Bistro & Lounge this weekend.  When asked what they have planned for their Seoul gigs Seiji replies that things will be “hot and spicy like kimchi!”

Seiji Guitar Wolf

A rock star through and through, when questioned about how he intends to keep busy after Guitar Wolf’s Seoul shows, Seiji offers this short response, “A scandal with a famous Korean actress.”

Well, it’s always important to have goals.  And now we all have a reason to watch the local tabloids!

Guitar Wolf play on Friday night at Prism in Hongdae. The show starts at 9:30 pm and tickets are 20,000 won. The Spanish Barrow’in Guitar, Streetguns, Dead ButtonsAssassination Squad, and the Seoul Shindig DJs are also on the bill.  For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.

Prism Poster

Guitar Wolf also play on Saturday at WAV Bistro & Lounge as part of the Ink Bomb Tattoo Convention.  Tickets for Saturday are 30,000 won and Crying Nut, Galaxy Express, The Spanish Barrow’in Guitar, Rux, Streetguns, … Whatever That Means, and Bad Trip will also play. For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.

Ink Bomb Poster

National Pigeon Unity Make Their Return Tonight at Prism

National Pigeon Unity will play at Prism Hall in Hongdae tonight (Friday, June 6).  Being billed as a “comeback” show, the gig is the Seoul rock duo’s first concert since finishing their Korean military service.

NPU ARMY HANDS

Formed in 2006, National Pigeon Unity released a handful of EPs and two full-length albums (2010’s Empathy and 2011’s Root) before beginning their mandatory army stint in 2012.  The pair regrouped briefly in spring 2013 for a gig at Club FF, but tonight’s concert will be only their second show in the past two years.

“It’s been a long time since our last concert,” says guitarist Kim Dong-hun.  “So we’re excited and a little nervous about our show at Prism.  Most of all, we’re really happy to meet all of our fans who have been waiting for us to start playing again.”

National Pigeon Unity

Kim was discharged from the army at the end of February and drummer Park Young-mok finished in late March.  While they were in the army, they were unable to practice together because they were based in different areas.  But as soon as Park was released they quickly started working with each other again.

“I played guitar alone every weekend while I was in the army,” says Kim.  “But it was hard for us to work on new songs because we were stationed far apart from each other.  We met up four days after Young-mok got out of the army and began to make new songs.”

National Pigeon Unity will be debuting four tracks tonight at Prism.  The cuts are called “Beautiful Mind,” “Supercharge,” “Stargazer,” and “Sevenless.”

“Our new songs talk about how we felt while we were in the army,” says Kim.  “I think the most interesting song is ‘Sevenless.’  It’s about a really unlucky guy who doesn’t have any lucky number sevens in his life.”

Look for the band to be playing lots over the coming months as they re-establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Korean indie scene.  And they are hoping to make their first foray overseas in the fall for gigs in other parts of Asia.

“We want to keep doing more and more concerts throughout the summer,” says Kim.  “We need to let everyone know that we’re back from the army and are raring to go.”

Obviously excited to be playing together again, why have Kim and Park waited over two months to play their comeback show?

“We needed lots of time to practice and get ready,” says Kim.  “We want to play and perform much better than we did before.  People are going to see the best National Pigeon Unity that there’s ever been!”

National Pigeon Unity perform at Prism on Friday, June 6.  Doors open at 6 pm and 24 Hours, Dead Buttons, Four Brothers, Telefly, and Rocket Diary will all play opening sets.  Tickets are 20,000 won at the door.

Here are the set times for tonight’s concert:

6:20 – 6:50 24 Hours
7 – 7:30 Dead Buttons
7:40 – 8:10 Four Brothers
8:20 – 8:50 Telefly
9 – 9:30 Rocket Diary
9:40 National Pigeon Unity

National Pigeon Unity Poster

A Free Party and Free Tunes from Loose Union

The folks at Loose Union have got an early summer treat for everyone.  On Saturday night (May 31), the Seoul-based music collective will be holding a concert at DGBD in Hongdae to celebrate the release of its first compilation album, Loose Union #1.  Entrance to the gig is free, and everyone who attends will also release a free copy of Loose Union #1.

Loose Union Comp

The comp boasts cuts from a number of notable Korean and expat acts including Vidulgi Ooyoo, Love X Stereo, Juck Juck Grunzie, Yukari, Yamagata Tweakster, The Strikers, We Dance, Guten Birds, Les Sales, Ironic Hue, Genius, New Blue Death, Table People, Tierpark, Used Cassettes, Slow Dress, and The Killer Drones.

“The compilation is something we’ve been talking about for a very long time,” says Loose Union’s Adam Hickey, who also plays bass in New Blue Death. “Loose Union was birthed with the idea of creating a sense of community between like-minded artists and musicians here in Seoul and shining whatever light we can on bands and people we think are making great music here.

“It’s been a huge collective effort. We don’t really have any resources other than each other. All the bands and individuals involved with Loose Union are following their own passions. The idea is that collectively we have a better chance of getting our voices heard both here and abroad.  So a compilation record is simply a logical extension of Loose Union’s M.O.”

New Blue Death

New Blue Death

The majority of the material on Loose Union #1 has been taken from previous releases by the bands.  However, the album does one boast exclusive cut, New Blue Death’s new “Rick Santino” single.

For those who can’t make it out on Saturday night, Hickey says that the albums will be given out at other Loose Union shows in the future as well. And digital versions of the songs will all be available on Loose Union’s website too.

Saturday night’s gig will include performances by Love X Stereo (fresh from their appearance at Music Matters in Singapore), Juck Juck Grunzie, New Blue Death, Used Cassettes, Table People, Les Sales, The Strikers, Tierpark, and The Killer Drones. The show starts from 8 pm and once again entrance is free! For more information, check out the Facebook event page for the show here.

Here are the set times for Saturday night’s gig:
8:00- 8:40 Tierpark
8:40-9:20 Love x Stereo
9:20-10:00 Used Cassettes
10:00-10:40 The Strikers
10:40-11:20 Juck Juck Grunzie
11:20-12:00 New Blue Death
12:00-12:40 Table People
12:40-1:20 Les Sales
1:20-2:00 The Killer Drones

Loose Union Poster

Romantiqua Get Their Revenge on May 23

Romanitqua will be holding a special album release concert on Friday night (May 23) at the newly opened Club Freebird 2 (formerly 500) in Hongdae for their debut full-length album, Revenge. Formed in 2010, Romantiqua solidified their lineup in the fall of 2011 with the addition of drummer Anton Brinza and since then have worked hard to establish themselves as one of the Korea’s premier instrumental rock bands.

Romantiqua

Boasting a dozen dynamic cuts, Revenge was recorded between last fall and this spring. The album includes re-recorded takes of the three tracks from Romantiqua’s 2013 When and Where EP. It also features guest vocals on two tracks – Apollo 18’s Kim Dae-inn on “Drink It until It’s Gone” and Hollow Jan’s Lim Hwan-taek on “Only One Slight Eternity.”

Anton Brinza answered a few questions for Korea Gig Guide about Revenge and this weekend’s release party for the disc.

How do you feel that Revenge builds upon When and Where?

This album paints a more complete picture of what Romantiqua tries to give our listeners. When and Where was a very optimistic collection of songs. It was hopeful and inspiring. But where there is hope and inspiration there must also be struggle, doubt, and desperation. We try to convey this depth of experience in our music, and Revenge gives a more complete picture. As songwriters, we’re also storytellers. Even without vocals, these songs each tell a story. The stories vary in their topics and emotions by extremes. And that’s really what Romantiqua is all about. It’s in our name. Who has had a romance without its ups and downs? Without pain and pleasure alike?

Listening to the finished album, what are some of the things you like best about Revenge?

The album sounds great. We wanted to capture our live sound as best as we could, and we got pretty damn close. Every song stands strong on its own, but there is also a real cohesion amongst all the songs. It feels like a complete work, and not just a collection of our material. The best thing for us, though, was probably the recording process itself. We learned so much along the way, just about how to get exactly what we want out of the studio and the resources available to us. It’s already made us excited for the next album.

Are the versions of “Boris Aurorialis,” “Cold Night,” and “Play What’s Not There” on Revenge any different from the originals? Why did you want to work them into your full-length debut?

Structurally they’re the same, but they’ve each been completely re-recorded, and they sound a hell of a lot better. We wanted to include them because, thematically, they are important to the structure of the album. With Revenge, there’s a very obvious central theme being presented, and it’s kind of a loaded idea. There are a lot of different ways to think about or to seek revenge, and this album isn’t about a singular, retributive revenge. Those three songs, with their more positive spin, offer the other side of the sword, so to speak – the softer side. And they help the overall flow of the album, which presents a more accurate Romantiqua. They’re not the only positive songs on the album, but they’re an essential part of the story.

You guys decided to include some guest vocalists on Revenge. Why did you choose to do this?

We did this to push ourselves and to show that there are no boundaries in Romantiqua. Just because we don’t employ vocals all the time doesn’t mean we’re against them or anything like that. It’s a choice we make because we feel it benefits our music. The vocals we’ve used on this album, similarly, benefit the songs. We often discuss the inclusion of various instruments, and also visuals, into our music. These guest vocals have just been the first step.

Romantiqua Album Cover

What do you guys have planned for Friday night’s album release show?

We’ve got some great supporting bands lined up. Wasted Johnny’s, Hellivision, and Knockdown will be playing. There may be other special guests performing as well. There will be a raffle for free guitars from Young Chang Music. It’s going to be a party for sure.

Romantiqua have kept a relatively low profile for the first half of 2014. Will that be changing with the release of Revenge?

Absolutely! Our focus this year has been on the album. We’ve got it where we want it, and now with it finished we plan to hit the circuit hard. So look out for Romantiqua. We’re like a charging bull out for revenge.

Romantiqua play on Friday night at Club Freebird 2.  The show starts at 9 pm and Wasted Johnny’s, Hellivision, and Knockdown will all play opening sets.  Tickets are 20,000 won.

Romantiqua Gig Poster

Dead Buttons, Ludiostelo, and Counter Reset at Shake Shop 15 on May 17

Bellydancers Eshe and Navah will collaborate with Dead Buttons, Ludistelo, and Counter Reset for the 15th edition of the Korea Gig Guide co-presented Shake Shop concert series. The show will take place on Saturday, May 17 at Club Freebird.

Dead Buttons Bench

Fresh from wrapping up their first UK tour – a jaunt that saw them playing six gigs in England and appearing at the Liverpool Sound City music fest – expect Seoul rock ‘n’ roll duo Dead Buttons to exhibit no signs of jet lag as their tear through the punchy anthemic cuts from their fantastic Whoever You Are EP.

Despite Shake Shop taking place only a few days after their return to Korea, Dead Buttons eagerly agreed to team up with shimmying beauties for the show.

“We’ve seen their collaborations with other bands and they have always looked very cool and unique,” says guitarist Hong Jihyun. “When they invited us to play, we were happy to accept.  Now we’re curious about what they have planned for our collaboration and how it will turn out.”

Originally formed as a trio in 2012, Dead Buttons paired down to a duo last summer and began to write the infectious music that graces Whoever You Are. Quickly becoming one of Hongdae’s more buzzed about up-and-coming acts since the EP’s February release, the band are hoping to issue a few new digital singles over the coming months to keep their momentum going.

“We’re still working on the songs,” says Hong. “We’re planning to release one or two new songs but it’s still just a plan.  We’re writing the songs slowly and haven’t made a decision yet on when they’ll come out.  We’re going to work on them more now that our England concerts are finished.”

Ludistelo Picture

Ludistelo is an electro-pop act made up of members from Sugar Donut, The Ratios, and Copy Machine. They started making music together during a trip to Brunei in late 2012 that synthesizer player Park Sangjin and guitarist / synthesizer player Ahn Sunghoon (who goes by the stage name Ash) took together.

“We were traveling the jungles near the equator and trying to put all of those feelings into the music,” says Park. “We worked a lot on our music after the trip and started to play shows in the spring of 2013.”

The trio, which includes drummer Kim Juyeon, issued their debut full-length effort this past April. The album is titled Experience and was recorded between last summer and winter.

“It took a long time to record the album because we were playing shows and recording at the same time,” says Park.  “Also, we wanted to make sure that things sounded perfect!”

Ludistelo will be playing material from Experience at Shake Shop and are confident that their collaboration with Eshe and Navah will go well.

“We have no idea what kind of energy will be created by the combination of our music and bellydancing,” says Park.  “We’re excited to see how the bellydancers feel and react to Ludistelo’s music.  We play a variety of sounds and try to express ideas about the environment, common experiences, and empathy.  We guess that bellydance also sometimes expresses those same things.  So I think that even though our music isn’t traditional bellydancing music the collaboration will still be great to see.”

Counter Reset

Punk stalwarts Counter Reset have been tearing up local stages with their fast-paced melodic punk since the early noughties.  Like the other bands on the bill, they are looking forward to doing something a bit outside the norm by having bellydancers shake their hips while they play.

“It seemed like it would be fun to do together,” says guitarist and vocalist Choi Jihoon. “Our music is really different from bellydance music but the rhythm parts could work well together. The more we think about it, the idea of bellydancers performing to our music sounds awesome.”

Counter Reset released their third full-length album of original material, Born to Drive, in the summer of 2013.  Wanting to try something different, in April the group issued a two-song single called Acoustic Stories. The single features re-worked versions of the Born to Drive tracks “One of a Kind” and “All of the Days We Had.”  The arrangements have been stripped down in both songs and the lyrics have been changed.  As a result, both have been given new titles with “Acoustic Story” representing the alternate take on “One of a Kind” and “Acoustic Memory” doing the same for ““All of the Days We Had.”

Although covering themselves may be new for the band, they are no strangers to playing covers.  They’ve released three covers albums so far, Punk Eats J-Pop (featuring Japanese songs), Michael Punk Covers (featuring Michael Jackson tracks), and Punxmas (featuring Christmas classics). Is there any chance some covers may surface in Saturday’s Shake Shop set?

“Our first covers album, Punk Eats J-Pop, only came out in Japan so we don’t play those songs in Korea,” says Choi.  “And we only play our carols album at Christmas.  But for this show I think we may play ‘Ben’ from our Michael Jackson covers album.”

Shake Shop 15 takes place on Saturday, May 17 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 9 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Dead Buttons, Ludistelo, and Counter Reset. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the set times for tomorrow night’s gig:
9:00-9:35 Counter Reset
9:35-9:50 Navah
9:50-10:35 Ludistelo
10:35-11:20 Dead Buttons

Shake Shop 15 Poster

Big Phony, Streetguns, and Bad Trip Live at Shake Shop on April 25

Big Phony, Streetguns, and Bad Trip will all team up with bellydancers Eshe and Navah for April’s Shake Shop show. Co-presented by Korea Gig Guide, this month’s showcase of local indie music and shimmying will take place on Friday night (April 25) at Club Freebird in Hongdae.

Big Phony

In February, the excellent Korean-American singer-songwriter Big Phony released two new albums, an acoustic disc titled “Bobby” and an electronic one called “Love Live the Lie.” Both charted very well on iTunes in the US, with “Bobby” reaching no. 75 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Music Chart and “Love Live the Lie” climbing all the way to no. 10 on the iTunes Electronic Music Chart.

The man behind the Big Phony moniker, Bobby Choy, explains why he decided to issue both of the albums at the same time.

“I was working on an electronic album mainly because it was something I was dabbling in that turned into a lot of fun,” shares Choy. “As I was getting closer to finishing that project I had the idea of releasing a stripped-down acoustic album that featured the sound and style that people mostly associate with Big Phony. I wanted people to know that although I was releasing an electronic album, I wasn’t changing genres necessarily. I’m still a singer-songwriter at the end of the day.”

Last month, Choy showcased his new material during a string of US dates that included a stop at Texas’ famed South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. According to Choy, the trip had a lot of positives and one minor (but quite enjoyable) downside.

“My tour went incredibly well,” says Choy. “I met so many great people along the way and loved playing night after night. I think my vocal chords improved because of it! The singer-songwriter showcase I performed in at SXSW was a really special night for me. It was a great crowd and perfect venue for my kind of music.

“I gained some weight during the tour as well. I had a lot of BBQ in Texas, and I drank lots of beer, whiskey, and fine wines. Also, for some reason there was an abundance of Girl Scout cookies everywhere I went.”

Eshe and Choy have spoken a few times about performing together at Shake Shop over the past several months, but due to scheduling conflicts the collaboration wasn’t possible until now. Both are very happy to have Big Phony’s name on the bill for Shake Shop Vol. 14.

“I’m so happy that we were able to finally find a date to do this,” says Choy. “I’m not entirely sure how this will pan out but I have faith in Eshe and Navah and in their artistic choices. I’m thrilled that they’ve asked me to take part in what I’m sure will be a memorable night.”

Streetguns Photo

Rockabilly band Streetguns made their live debut in March, but these hep cats are far from newbies. Streetguns is composed of members from the popular Seoul indie band The Rock Tigers. The Rock Tigers parted ways with their front woman, Velvet Geena, late last year. Wanting to make a fresh start, they hired a new male crooner named Chulsoo and re-branded themselves as Streetguns.

“We’ve all been working hard doing this for many years, so everyone agreed that it was maybe a good time to make some changes,” says guitarist Tiger. “We’ve got a new vocalist but our musical style has not changed that much. We’re still playing kimchibilly and are looking forward to building upon the career we established with The Rock Tigers.”

Members of Streetguns actually attended a past Shake Shop event and enjoyed the concert making them very open to the idea of collaborating with Eshe and Navah.

“We went to the Shake Shop show with Kingston Rudieska and Galaxy Express,” says Tiger. “It looked like a lot of fun and we thought that we’d like to be a part of the concert one day too. Shortly after that, Eshe contacted us and asked us to perform. The timing was good for us, so we decided to join the ladies for a special performance. Rockabilly with bellydance is a definitely a unique combination, so I think this is going to be a cool night.”

Bad Trip

Bad Trip’s tunes are a mix of hard rock, garage rock, punk, and psychedelic sounds. The trio issued a three-song single titled “Rain Drop” late last year through Steel Face Records. According to guitarist and vocalist Kim Young-saeng, the act plan to issue more new music sometime this year.

Kim previously played with the psych-tinged alt-rock band Humpbacks. In 2012, Humpbacks invited Eshe to collaborate with them at their CD release party. Kim liked the experience, and is eager to work with bellydancers again with his current group.

“Last time I performed with Eshe, our pairing felt so fresh and new,” says Kim. “When Eshe suggested doing something together with Bad Trip it was our pleasure to accept her invitation. Bellydancing and Bad Trip’s music are very different, but I think that is what will make it interesting to see.”

Volume 14 of Shake Shop takes place on Friday, April 25 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 8:30 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Big Phony, Streetguns, and Bad Trip. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the set times for tomorrow night’s gig:
8:30 Big Phony
9:15 Navah
9:30 Bad Trip
10:15 Streetguns

March 22: The Geeks, Startline, and 4 Brothers at Shake Shop

The Korea Gig Guide co-presented concert series Shake Shop takes place tonight at Club Freebird.  This month’s show features The Geeks, Startline, and 4 Brothers all collaborating with the bellydancer Eshe and her Navah troupe.

The Geeks

Undeniably one of the country’s top hardcore talents, The Geeks are finally preparing to unveil their long-awaited sophomore album.  The band’s 2007 “Every Time We Fall” debut was a critically acclaimed affair, and fans have been eagerly awaiting its follow up.  While no proper release date has been set yet, according to Geeks’ vocalist Seo Kiseok the disc will definitely be out sooner rather than later.

“We’re working on a new album and it will come out this year for sure,” says Seo.  “It will come out in Korea through Townhall Records and overseas on Think Fast Records.  We just finished mixing and the artwork.  Now we’re working on a release timeline.  We’ll announce our full plans soon.”

Last year saw The Geeks doing an American tour and performing at Texas’ massive South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival.  Although the members of the band all have very busy schedules with work and family commitments, the group are hoping to play some international concerts in support of their upcoming record.  No gigs have been confirmed yet, but Seo says the US, UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan are “top priorities” for The Geeks and are on their list of places to try and make it to.

Hardcore and bellydance are not a combination most people would expect to see, but for Seo that’s what makes The Geeks collaboration with Eshe and Navah at Freebird tonight so interesting.

“The Geeks are all about pushing the limits and living life to the fullest,” Seo says.  “We like to push the envelope and move the needle. This is an extremely great opportunity that will enable us to try new things and progress as a band. I never thought we would be invited to collaborate with bellydancers.  This is just so amazing!

“One of my favorite hardcore bands 7 Seconds says, ‘If we can walk together, why can’t we rock together?’  Our music and our performance is known for its unmatched high level of energy, which I think can be well translated into the main essence of dance.  And the lyrics for one of our new songs were inspired by the German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. So I think us and the bellydancers have a lot in common. This collaboration is going to be cool.”

Startline

Formed in March 2013, melodic punk trio Startline features members of Gumx and Copy Machine.  The ambitious act issued their first EP last September, the six-cut “Light My Fire,” and in November flew to Indonesia to participate in the Asian Beat Grand Final 2013.  They placed third in the competition, and drummer Choi Gun was crowned best drummer at the event.

Looking to further build on last year’s momentum, Startline will put out their full-length debut this spring.

“We’re planning to release our first album in May,” says Choi.  “We’re going to record it in April and it’s going to full of great punk songs with awesome lyrics.  We have so many ideas we want to try and are still deciding which songs should go on the album.  We’re working really hard right now and will continue to challenge ourselves to create great stuff.”

Like The Geeks, Startline are excited about teaming up with bellydancers tonight at Club Freebird.

“We’re very open minded to all new experiences,” says Choi.  “We know Eshe and Navah have been doing great things with a lot of great bands so we also want to try working with them.

“We have lots of fast songs.  We’re going to play them like we normally do and see where the bellydancers can lead us.  We think art and music create really good energy together, so tonight should be a lot of fun for everyone.

Poppy vintage rockers 4 Brothers will round out the bill for Shake Shop Vol. 13.  The band are gigging in support of their 2013 full-length, “The Riot of Decadence.”

Shake Shop Vol. 13 takes place on Saturday, March 22 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 8:30 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside The Geeks, Startline, and 4 Brothers.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the set times for tonight’s gig:
8:30 4 Brothers
9:15 Navah
9:30 Startline
10:15 The Geeks

Shake Shop 13

Smacksoft to Bring True Korean Post-Punk to US

By: Tom Rainey-Smi​th

From the streets of New York to the underground clubs of Seoul, Smacksoft frontwoman Bo Ryung Whang has been fashioning her own blend of electronica-infused post-punk since she first started performing in Seoul in the late 1990s. Smacksoft was established shortly after, taking on its current form in 2007 when Bo Ryung returned from a stint at art school. Her whispery vocals betray a rawness and honesty that reflect her unapologetic commitment to creating self-expressive art.

Smacksoft 3

Smacksoft  released their fifth album titled Follow Your Heart at the end of 2012, which earned them a nomination at the 2013 Korean Music Awards for “Best Modern Rock Album,” and is planning to bring out their sixth full-length by the middle of this year. The band will join other Korean acts including Crying Nut and Jambinai  at Texas’ South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival next week before heading off to California and then on to Amsterdam. In order to raise funds for their upcoming tour, the band will be performing a special tour fundraiser gig on Friday, March 7 at Nest Nada in Hongdae.

Korea Gig Guide had a chance to interview Smacksoft’s frontwoman Bo Ryung to ask her about the evolution of Smacksoft and their upcoming tour.

Smacksoft 13

Q: What is the meaning behind the name Smacksoft?

A: The sound of the words “smack” and “soft” both sound like they feel. I like the inherent duality in putting these two things together.  For me, they represent an anti-violence and anti-authoritarian attitude. I like mixing these punk/anarchy and pro-peace ideas together. It is confrontational and serious but also has some humor to it.

Q: Tell us about your journey as a musician from your early days in the punk scene to the present. How has your sound evolved?

A: I have always listened to and played music, painted, drawn, and written stuff – whatever was a meaningful expression of myself at any given time.  I don’t follow trends or what other people are doing, but I am definitely inspired by things that are happening around me and collaborating with other musicians and artists. I think the biggest evolution in my music has occurred through technology – the amount of control I can have in the production and editing as well as playing has allowed me to exercise greater authenticity in my work.

Q: You’ve played many shows in support of various social causes such as “Rock and Resistance: Against the Naval Base on Jeju Island” and “Solidarity for US Military Camptown Women’s Human Rights.” What is your motivation to support these causes?

A: I simply believe it is the right thing to do. Human history is full of violence, war, and suffering, but it is just as equally full of beauty and kind acts. I think sometimes it’s hard to remember that we have the power to change things positively if only we will speak up and get involved.

Q: It can be quite difficult trying to survive off your music alone as an indie musician in South Korea. How do you manage?

A: It is difficult to be an artist.  There’s definitely a reason why everyone says that.  But, honestly, I never really thought about it too much. It wasn’t a question for me of whether or not to live a creative life. I just did it. I’m not really alone as an indie musician, there’s a whole core group of people working to support and promote the indie scene in Korea from venues like Club Rainbow to people who listen to our music. To make ends meet I might teach art, sell some of my paintings, or do other things like that.

Q: Do you have hopes of releasing a new album in the near future?

A: Smacksoft plan to release our sixth studio album in June. And, I just released a solo EP on February 27.  It’s called “As If Nothing Ever Happened.”

Q: You recently shot a beautiful new video for Dreamer of Myths. Tell us about the experience of filming it.

A: It was really cold but really fun. We had a great crew. The video for “Dreamer of Myths” presents my thoughts and ideas along with the music. I am wearing a mask with words – rage, betrayal, feeling lost, loneliness – and when I take that off and burn it, I felt this emotional release of actually letting go of all the human fears and suffering that we create for ourselves.

Q: You toured the US back in 2012. What was the highlight of that tour?

A: Definitely just seeing the States and getting to drive through the country was a highlight. Also, we met some great musicians when we played in Chicago at Transistor and Reggie’s. One band, Evil Twin Sister, their guitarist Mario had a friend who had just seen us play in Tijuana, Mexico so he had already heard about us – that was exciting. Playing in Tijuana was also an amazing experience. And, even though our music is mostly in Korean, people still responded to the music, which was very moving for us.

Q: What can US-based fans expect from you at SXSW?

A: True post-punk music – not the “indie” packaged, soul-less music produced by following some kind of set formula. I think we’re all going to have a great time getting to share our music with a new audience.  I think they’ll love us!

Q: Lastly, you’ll be collaborating with the belly dancer Eshe and her Navah troupe this Friday night to raise money for your trip. Tell us what is it like to take part in these kinds of music-dance collaborations from the band’s perspective.

A: Clearly, music and dance go together well – it’s a natural collaboration. I think working with any artists expands the whole creative process.  I think it shows us all what is possible and creates a wonderful experience for all of the participants regardless of whether they are dancing, listening, playing, or doing something else. Performing live is really the best feeling there is.

Smacksoft Fundraiser

Smacksoft’s US tour fundraiser show takes place on Friday night at Nest Nada.  The show starts at 8 pm and tickets are 20,000 won.  Apollo 18, Rainbow99, and bellydancers Eshe & Navah will also perform.  For international fans, here are Smacksoft’s overseas gigs in March and April:

March 13 Austin, TX @ Icenhauer’s (SXSW)
March 16 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight
March 20 San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall (CAAMFest)
April 12 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Sugar Factory (PMPS Fest)