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).
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.
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!