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)

Jambinai and Idiotape Team Up for Seoul Show before Their US Tours

By: Tom Rainey-Smi​th

Korean indie acts Jambinai and Idiotape are preparing to take on Texas in March where they will join more than 2,000 bands from 60 countries at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. Before they head off to the States, the two bands are performing a show this Sunday (March 2) at Club Ta in Hongdae. Check out Korea Gig Guide’s interviews with both bands, along with their American tour dates, below.


photo by RIchard Yoon Chan

Fusing elements of metal and punk with traditional Korean music, Jambinai have spent much of the past year showcasing their talent around the world. Recently billed by MTV Iggy as one of the top 10 international acts not to miss at SXSW, this post-rock band are pushing boundaries and winning a diverse fan base with their unique sound. With an EP and an album under their belt, they are currently putting together material for what will be their second full-length release.

The Jambinai experience is hard to define. Their sound might be best described as listening to Meshuggah while walking through Seoul’s Gyeongbok Palace at night on acid; their deeply layered and darkly beautiful songs will leave you in an altered state. As guitarist and piri player Lee Ilwoo explains, their sound has evolved from a longtime interest in traditional Korean music and hopes to take listeners on a unique journey. Read our interview with him below.

Tell us about your musical influences and how you came to create such a unique sound.

Lee Ilwoo: We all have been playing Korean traditional music since we were middle school and high school. And we’re also fans of lots of other types of music too like hardcore, punk, metal, tango, modern classical music, and many other styles. I think we combine all of our different musical tastes to try and make something new using the instruments we’ve been playing since we were kids and teenagers.

Do you approach your music as an attempt to break through stylistic boundaries or as more of a process of drawing on and fusing together different but established styles?

Lee Ilwoo: I guess we kind of do both of those things when we make music. It’s not something we do consciously, though. We just try to make the music we want to make using the instruments we love and feel really comfortable with.

Jambinai’s music is a collaborative and deeply artistic experience. Describe for our readers the process of song writing.

Lee Ilwoo: I usually come up with the framework for our songs. Then the other members add to the framework and help modify it with their traditional instruments.

You recently showcased some new material that is still as of yet unnamed. It is sounding deep and dark. Is there a specific theme or feeling that you’re going for your next album?

Lee Ilwoo: We want to try and describe feelings that represent the present. Something that has never been known before because no one has recognized that it exists. But actually it has existed the whole time. And when it is finally discovered, people will be shocked. Kind of like what happened with the coelacanth fish.*

What should concert goers expect from you at SXSW?

Lee Ilwoo: They should expect to see a band who can’t speak English well playing heavy music using instruments that they may have never seen before. We’re playing three official showcases at SXSW and two unofficial gigs during the festival as well. We’re excited to play for new audiences and hope lots of people come out see us play.

Here are Jambinai’s March US tour dates:
March 11 Austin, TX @ (7:30 pm) Elysium (official SXSW showcase)
March 12 Austin, TX @ (3 pm) International Day Stage Austin Convention Center (official SXSW showcase)
March 13 Austin, TX @ (1:30 pm) Hotel Vegas (Levitation Austin)
March 13 Austin, TX @ (12:00 am) Flamingo Cantina (official SXSW showcase)
March 14 Austin, TX @ (3:15 pm) Spider House (The Texas Rock N Roll Massacre 2)
March 16 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight

* The coelacanth fish was thought to have been extinct for 66 million years until one was eventually discovered in 1938.


Electro-rock trio Idiotape are no strangers to SXSW having first performed at the festival in 2011. This award-winning electronic act – which is comprised of producer and synthesizer player Dguru, synthesizer player Zeze, and drummer DR – has been pumping out the beats since 2008 when they formed in Seoul. Since then they’ve ripping up dance floors, performing to crowded audiences at a number of Korean and overseas festivals. They recorded an EP in 2010 and put out their first full-length album the following year. The band mixes synth-driven rhythms with a classic rock feel achieved by live drumming.

Not only do they promise to put on a dynamic and electrifying show, but also plan to showcase some new material for the first time when they hit Texas. As the band explains, they are an act that must be seen live to be really understood.

How would you describe your sound? What original elements do you bring into your music that makes it your own?

Dguru: We play dynamic synth-driven music will real drums. We’re kind of like an electronic rock ‘n’ roll band.

Zeze: Maybe electronic shoegaze would be a good description? We play electronic music with electronic instruments, but our mindset is based in rock music.

DR: I think we make rock music for the 21st century.

What are your musical influences?

Dguru: I’m influenced by the music and different sounds I hear everywhere I go. I think drawing is how we see, poetry is how we speak, and music is how we hear. When making music, I try to make sounds based on what I’ve heard or imagined.

Zeze: I’m influenced by the people I meet, by time, and by space. I’m really influenced by the different seasons too.

DR: My musical influences come from past memories of gigs I’ve played and how the audiences reacted at them, and from concerts I’ve seen by other bands.

Idiotape has established a solid following both locally and internationally. Do you think Korean indie music gets the recognition it deserves outside of the country?

Dguru: I don’t think it gets enough recognition yet. But that’s slowly changing. When we went to SXSW in 2011 there were only five Korean acts playing at the festival. This year there are 15 Korean acts. I think this is a really good thing and it could signal the start of a new beginning for the Korean indie scene.

You’ve played SXSW before. What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event?

Dguru: I’m looking forward to getting to know other musicians from around the world. I think we can learn a lot from watching other acts perform and getting to know them.

Zeze: The last time we went to SXSW, I was nervous and made many mistakes because it was our first overseas tour. I want to try and enjoy the festival more this time around.

Besides risking addiction to the music and involuntary body shaking, what should fans expect from your SXSW show?

Zeze: We’re going to play a new song at SXSW which we’ve never played before. People at SXSW will be the first ones to hear it.

DR: They should expect to get to experience the “real” Idiotape. I think you can’t judge our band based only by our albums. Idiotape is a band that needs to be seen live to truly understand us.

Here are Idiotape’s March US tour dates:
March 11 Austin, TX @ (11:30 pm) Elysium (Official SXSW Showcase)
March 20 San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall (CAAMFest)

Club Ta Poster

Jambinai and Iditoape will play a show together on Sunday, March 2 at Club Ta.  Ynot? are also on the bill.  The show starts at 6 pm and tickets are 15,000 in advance.


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

Shake Shop Turns One with Kingston Rudieska, Galaxy Express, and Asian Chairshot

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Shake Shop.  The brainchild of Seoul bellydancer Eshe, the concert series debuted in February 2013 and mixes Korean indie music with bellydance.  Co-presented by Korea Gig Guide and Dream Dance Studio, Shake Shop Vol. 12 takes place on Saturday, February 15 at Club Freebird and will see local heavyweights Kingston Rudieska and Galaxy Express along with the fast rising Asian Chairshot all collaborating with Eshe and her troupe, Navah.

Kingston Rudieska

Seoul’s top ska band, Kingston Rudieska are quite accustomed to getting rooms full of people dancing with their uplifting tunes.  So playing while a bevy of beautiful bellydancers move their hips shouldn’t be a big stretch for the gents.  Trumpet and flugelhorn player Oh Jeong-seok shares why he thinks Saturday’s show is going to be a lot of fun.

“In my opinion, bellydance is a very beautiful dance,” Oh says.  “I think it’s also a very flexible dance and is well-suited for every kind of music.   I know Eshe and Navah have danced with many kinds of music and I think having bellydance collaborate with ska and reggae will be a very good match.  Dance and music may be different forms of expression, but they share a common language.”

Collaborations are definitely something that Kingston Rudieska are all about these days.  In March, the band will release a new collaborative EP with German reggae and ska musician Dr. Ring Ding.  The album will be distributed across North America, Europe, and Japan.  And Oh says they the group are also planning to start a new concert series called “Rudy’s Open House” which will have them collaborating with different artists each month.

Galaxy Express

Trippy garage rock trio Galaxy Express are in the process of writing material for their fourth full-length album.  The band’s 2008 “Noise on Fire” debut won “Best Rock Album” at the 2009 Korean Music Awards, their 2010 “Wild Days” sophomore effort helped them net “Musician of the Year” at the 2011 Korean Music Awards, and their 2012 eponymous disc was nominated for “Album of the Year” at last year’s Imagene Awards.  Based on that track record, it is not a stretch to assume that whatever Galaxy Express are cooking up is going to be pretty damn good.

“We’re working on new songs right now,” say bassist Lee Ju-hyun.  “We want the new songs to be more vivid and feel more alive than our previous work.  We’re planning to record in April or May and hope to have the album out this summer.”

Although Galaxy Express’ raucous music isn’t what you would usually expect to hear at a bellydance gig, Lee says the act are happy about the collaboration.

“Our music is very different from traditional bellydance music, but I’m certain things are going to turn out well,” he says.  “We’re so excited about playing at Shake Shop!”

Asian Chairshot have a bit of experience with working with dancers.  The fantastic Korean butoh dancer Hong Ra-moo stars in the band’s “Mask Dance” music video.  But Shake Shop will be their first time teaming up with bellydancers.

“We’re always down for working together with other art forms,” says drummer Park Kye-wan.  “I think collaborating with other kinds of art allows our music to be seen in another way.”

This past December, Asian Chairshot recorded their debut full length in Seoul.  Smashing Pumpkins’ guitarist Jeff Schroeder produced the album and Ryan Grostefon was the recording engineer.  Grostefon was also the engineer on Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 acclaimed “Oceania” disc.  The still untitled album will come out sometime in April.

“We had a great time recording with those guys,” says Park.  “I think our new album has a more varied sound than our (2013) ‘Mask’ EP.  Some of the new songs are very heavy and some have a very mellow, melancholy feel.  All of the songs have different feelings and emotions.”

Asian Chairshot

Shake Shop Vol. 12 takes place on Saturday, February 15 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 Kingston Rudieska, Galaxy Express, and Asian Chairshot.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the estimated set times for Friday’s show:
8:30 Asian Chairshot
9:15 Navah
9:30 Galaxy Express
10:15 Kingston Rudieska

Shake Shop Vol 12

Mogwai and Daughter Live in Seoul on February 16


Scotland’s Mogwai and England’s Daughter are teaming up for a Seoul gig at Uniqlo-AX on Sunday, February 16.

Mogwai Band Photo September 2013

Formed in Glasgow in 1995, Mogwai have firmly established themselves as one of the world’s top post-rock acts.  The band made their Korean debut in 2011 with a late November concert in Seoul while they were on the road in support of their awesomely titled “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” disc.  On their second visit, they will be showcasing material from their new album, “Rave Tapes.”  The band’s eighth full-length, “Rave Tapes” was released on January 20.  Like its predecessors, the album has been garnering plenty of positive press with Exclaim calling it “perhaps their most engrossing effort since the Young Team’s debut.”  The group’s February 16 Seoul concert comes as part of an Asian tour that will also have them playing in the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore.  After Asia, Mogwai will be gigging in Europe and North America with their itinerary including stops at major fests such as Coachella, Sasquatch, and Primavera Sound.

Hailing from London, Daughter’s music is a mix of folk and ethereal dream pop.  The trio issued their debut full-length effort, “If You Leave,” in March 2013.  It won “Independent Album of the Year” at last year’s AIM Independent Music Awards.

On February 16 at Uniqlo-AX, Mogwai are scheduled to give a 90 minute headlining performance and Daughter will offer up a 50 minute opening set.  The show starts at 6 pm and tickets are 88,000 won in advance.  Advance tickets can be purchased in English here and in Korean here.

Mogwai Daughters Poster

Want to win a pair of free tickets to see Mogwai and Daughter play at Uniqlo-AX? Korea Gig Guide has two pairs of tickets to give away for February 16 concert courtesy of Private Curve. To qualify for the tickets, simply share this story on Facebook or Twitter. Then email us at to let us know that you’ve posted the link to your Facebook or Twitter page, and we’ll add your name to the draw. The contest closes at 12 pm on Thursday, February 13 and we’ll notify winners by 2 pm that day. Good luck!

Rux, Love X Stereo, and The Greatest Voyage at Shake Shop Vol. 11

Shake Shop, the monthly show presented by Korea Gig Guide and Hapjeong’s Dream Dance Studio, is starting off 2014 with a great bill that will have Rux, Love X Stereo, and The Greatest Voyage all collaborating with bellydancers Eshe and Navah on Friday (January 24) at Club Freebird in Hongdae.

Rux Band

One of the most respected and influential acts in Seoul’s punk scene, Rux have been a band that Shake Shop creator Eshe has wanted to work with since the concert series’ February 2013 inception.  This month she finally gets her wish as the quartet will close out Shake Shop on Friday night.  The performance will be their first show since guitarist Lee Hyun-hee was seriously injured in a workplace accident in November.

“Hyun-hee works in the kitchen at a Japanese okonomiyaki restaurant,” says vocalist Won Jong-hee.  “One of his co-workers accidentally dropped a canister of butane gas into a big deep fryer and the hot oil from the fryer exploded all over the kitchen.  Luckily, no one was killed.  However, three people in the kitchen got burned very badly.   Hyun-hee had to stay in the hospital for a month because of his burns.  He’s still recovering from the burns on his legs, but he’s strong enough to play gigs again.”

It has been over two-and-a-half years since the group issued their “5000 Years of Hallucinations” EP and nearly five years since they put out their 2009 “The Eternal Kids” full-length effort.  Rux fans who have eagerly been waiting for new music will be happy to know that the group are in the midst of recording a new album and hope to have it out in early summer.

Friday night will be Rux’s first time to work with bellydancers.  Won says the band are not exactly sure how the collaboration will turn out but are looking forward to seeing how things develop.

“It’s going to be a very interesting night,” says Won.  “I still can’t picture what it’s going to be like it.  But I guess it’s going to be a pretty cool sight.  As long as we enjoy Eshe’s and Navah’s dancing, and the audience enjoys our music, I’m pretty sure everyone will have a lot of fun.”

Love X Stereo

Fast-rising Love X Stereo embarked on their first North American tour last autumn in support of their “Glow” EP to play at the renowned CMJ Music Marathon in New York.  The electro-rock act will be returning stateside in March for another tour.  This time around they will hit the road with Glen Check and Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio as part of Seoulsonic and their itinerary will include a stop at Austin, Texas’ massive South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival.

“Our tour in the fall was so cool,” gushes vocalist and synthesizer player Annie Ko.  “It definitely exceeded our expectations.   The fans everywhere we went were really supportive.  It was amazing to meet so many people who were interested in our music.  And the sound quality everywhere we went was really good.  No matter how small or narrow a venue was, the sound guys knew what they were doing and made us sound great.  We were impressed.  We were very pleased with the tour and can’t wait to go back to the US this spring.”

Love X Stereo previously performed at Shake Shop last May.  They really enjoyed themselves at the gig and gladly accepted the invitation to appear at this month’s event.

“We were on cloud nine during that show,” says Ko.  “Lots of beautiful ladies danced in front of us while we played.  It was pretty awesome to see.  And it’s pretty unique, isn’t it?  Most bands or musicians have backup dancers, not ‘front up’ dancers.  So in that way, we could also enjoy the show as an ‘audience.’  It was a really rare experience for us, which is why we we’re thrilled to play Shake Shop again.”

The Greatest Voyage

The Greatest Voyage is fronted by No. 1 Korean’s vocalist Kwon Milk.  Kwon Milk originally planned to do some solo music as a side project from his main gig in the ska group No. 1 Korean.  He released an excellent album under his own name in May 2010 called “The Greatest Voyage.”  While gigging in support of that album with backing players, The Greatest Voyage became a proper band.

The act play really cool folk and rock compositions that are accented with bits of blues and country.  As The Greatest Voyage, they’ve released an EP (2011’s “The Commuter Blues”) and a handful of singles.  They are currently working on The Greatest Voyage’s debut full-length offering.

“We’re planning to release our first album as The Greatest Voyage this year,” shares Kwon Milk.  “We’ve got around 30 songs right now and we’re deciding which direction we want to take with the album and what tracks to use.  I think it may have a bit more of a rock feel than our previous work.”

Like Rux and Love X Stereo, The Greatest Voyage are happy to be teaming up with bellydancers Eshe and Navah for this weekend’s Shake Shop.

“We’re really excited for the Shake Shop show,” says Kwon Milk.  “We want to see how our music crosses boundaries and what new areas it can go to.”

Shake Shop Vol. 11 takes place on Friday, January 24 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 Rux, Love X Stereo, and The Greatest Voyage.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the estimated set times for Friday’s show:
8:30 The Greatest Voyage
9:15 Navah
9:40 Love X Stereo
10:15 Rux

Shake Shop 11 Poster

Loud Aid Vol. 2: Good Music and a Good Cause

This Saturday (January 25), the second annual Loud Aid concert will take place at Prism Live Hall in Hongdae. Organized by GMC Records bossman (and Today X Spot vocalist) Hyunggun “Ssako” Kim and 13 Steps vocalist (and Jambinai/No Excuse bassist) Dokyo Kim, the concert will see nine rock, punk, and hardcore acts playing between 6 pm and 10:30 pm for the very low price of 5,000 won plus a canned good.

Ssako explains the reasoning behind doing a joint concert and canned food drive.

“We still believe that hardcore is decided by people’s lifestyle – not by music,” he says. “So we wanted to share the ideas behind this positive lifestyle with all people. So we planned Loud Aid last January to collect food for those in need. The show went really well, so we wanted to do it again this year.”

The pair had initially decided to donate the food from this weekend’s concert to the Korail labor union, but now that their strike is over they are considering other options. The canned goods from last year’s drive were sent to the Catholic Human Rights Committee. And Ssako says they may give the food to that organization again.

Saturday night’s concert features some great local music including Juck Juck Grunzie, The Strikers, 13 Steps, Hollow Jan, Ninesin, Things We Say, Something Fierce, and We Hate JH. Also appearing will be hardcore act Fight It Out from Yokohama, Japan who are flying over specifically to play at the show. Emo band We Hate JH are the most recent signing to GMC Records. Their new “Officially, We Hate JH” album will be released by the label on January 28. But fans will be able to buy the disc before it hits stores at Loud Aid 2.

“There were no specific guidelines for the bands we wanted to play at Loud Aid Vol. 2,” says Ssako. “We just chose bands that can make f#cking loud music. Usually people in Korea just think heavy music only pertains to one style of music. But we wanted to show people that there is awesome heavy and loud music in lots of different genres.”

Loud Aid Vol. 2 should be a really fun night, so definitely try to stop by the show on January 25 if you can. And while the cover charge is 5,000 won with one canned good, feel free to bring a few more food items along to donate if you can afford to do so.

Loud Aid Vol. 2 takes place on Saturday, January 25 at Prism Live Hall. The show starts at 6 pm, and entry is 5,000 won with a canned good. 13 Steps, We Hate JH, Ninesin, Juck Juck Grunzie, The Strikers, Hollow Jan, Things We Say, Something Fierce, and Fight It Out will all perform. For more information, check out the Facebook event page for Loud Aid here.

Here are the set times for Loud Aid 2014:

6:00 – 6:30 Juck Juck Grunzie
6:30 – 7:00 We Hate JH
7:00 – 7:30 Something Fierce
7:30 – 8:00 Ninesin
8:00 – 8:30 Fight It Out
20:30 – 21:00 13 Steps
21:30 – 21:30 The Strikers
21:30 – 22:00 Hollow Jan
22:00 – 22:30 Things We Say

Loud Aid

Vassline Showcase New Album and Musical Diversity at Battle of the Silence

Vassline will be holding their second album release party for their “Black Silence” disc on Saturday, January 18 at Prism Live Hall in Hongdae.

Vassline Band Photo

Released in September on GMC Records, “Black Silence” is Vassline’s long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s “Permanence.”  The Seoul metalcore act initially intended to put out “Black Silence” in the fall of 2012.  But with things moving at a much slower pace than planned, the quintet eventually adopted an “It’ll be out when it’s done.” mentality.

“We started recording in early April 2012, and we thought we could finish the recording process in about three months,” shares guitarist Cho Min-young (aka Chainsaw Cho).  “And since it had never taken us more than six weeks to finish post-production stuff before, we figured we could have the album out that autumn.  But when we were recording, we fell way behind schedule.  Our own self standards are a lot higher now, so we put way more energy and effort into ‘Black Silence’ than we have for any of our past albums.  We were trying to be more professional, perfect, and precise.

“Also, we’re all way busier than we were six or seven years ago.  A few members are married and have kids.  And our day jobs have become more demanding too.  Balancing work, family, and band commitments also made it more challenging to get things done on the album quickly.”

Vassline Black Silence Cover

Fortunately, the loud and heavy “Black Silence” has proved to be worth the wait.  A powerful listen from start to finish, the record was chosen by Hellokpop as last year’s “Best Rock and Alternative Album.”  Boasting fourteen tracks, Jambinai and members of Hollow Jan, Pia, Ninesin, and To My Last Breath make guest appearances on several of the cuts adding some different flavors to Vassline’s fantastic sonic offering.

“With (2007’s) ‘Permanence’ we wanted to make an album that was more professional and better produced than our first two albums,” says Cho.  “Our second album, (2004’s) ‘Blood of Immortality,’ won the 2005 Korean Music Award for ‘Best Rock Album.’  And we felt a lot of pressure to make a better album than our prize-winning album.  At the time, we may have said that we didn’t care that much about making something better, but honestly, we did.

“But with ‘Black Silence,’ we became free from all the pressure and expectations.  We approached the album like we approached our very first record.  Because a large gap of time had passed since ‘Permanence,’ we thought we could bring a different kind of structure and character to our music.

“I think we did a really good job on ‘Black Silence.’  I think the overall sound is more organized and refined than it has been on past albums.  Our recording and mixing engineer took so damn long time to mix it down, but he did a really great job so we can’t complain!   I really like how the vocal recordings for the main and the backing vocals came out as well.  Our vocalist (Shin Woo-seok) experiments with different styles a lot during practices and shows, but he tends to stick to one style when it comes to actually recording. So the backing vocals need to give more layers and colors to the sound. I think the balance between the main vocals and the backing vocals came out much better on ‘Black Silence’ than on our previous records.”

Saturday night’s show is part of Vassline’s “Battle of the Silence” concert series, which is meant to promote the release of “Black Silence.”  The first Battle of the Silence took place in December.  And there will be four or five more shows held under the moniker this year.  With the Battle of the Silence shows, Vassline are looking to present bills that mix hardcore acts with bands from other genres.  December’s Battle of the Silence included punk bands No Brain and Lazybone, and this weekend’s gig will feature blues rock band Lowdown 30 and the soulful, retro-flavored pop rock of Goonam.

“The main idea is to bring out some of the best bands from other scenes and mix them with our music,” says Cho.  “As the Korean underground music scene has grown, its bands have gotten separated by categories or genre and it’s getting harder to see other bands grouped together from different genres.  We’ve been around more than 17 years now and we have lots of friends in many different scenes, so we wanted to invite them and let the bands and fans experience the different vibes that other music styles have.”

According to Cho, with future Battle of the Silence gigs, Vassline wants to continue to create lineups that are as diverse as possible.

“We’ll even invite idol dance music groups to perform if we can,” he says.  “But I’m guessing that won’t happen because we don’t have any friends in that scene.  Well, not yet, at least!”

Vassline’s second Battle of the Silence show takes place on Saturday night at Prism Live Hall in Hongdae.  The show starts at 6 pm and tickets are 20,000 won at the door.  Vassline, Lowdown 30, Knockdown, and Goonam will play.  For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.

Vassline Poster

Change of Venue and Discount for Phoenix’s Seoul Gig

Phoenix’s Thursday, January 23 concert has been moved from Olympic Hall to Uniqlo AX.  The concert starts at 8 pm and the fantastic Seoul electronic band Idiotape will open the show.

Phoenix Photo

Tickets for the gig are 121,00 won.  However, if you buy a ticket before Monday, January 20 at 5 pm, you can score yourself a 30% discount making the entrance fee 84,700 won.

To get the discount, you have to buy a ticket in advance by transferring money to VU Ent’s bank account (Bank Name : Woori Bank / Account No : 1005-802-107643 / Account Holder : VU Ent).  For more information, email vu.michelleh AT or call 070-4010-7874.

Phoenix are currently touring in support of their 2013 “Bankrupt!” album.  Last year saw the acclaimed French quartet performing at renowned fests such as Glastonbury, Coachella, and Lollapalooza.  In 2010, the act won the Grammy Award for “Best Alternative Music Album” for their 2009 “Wolfgang Amadeus” disc.


KGG Staff 2013 Live Faves

Here are the live performances from Korea (and other countries around the world) that Korea Gig Guide’s staff (Shawn, Mark, Jon, and Dain) enjoyed the most in 2013.  We hope to see all of you at lots of concerts throughout 2014!

And if anyone is interested, our 2012 lists of top shows can be checked out here.

A reunited Jurassic 5 at Japan's Fuji Rock Festival (photo by Keiko Hirakawa/Fujirock Express '13

A reunited Jurassic 5 at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival (photo by Keiko Hirakawa/Fujirock Express ’13

Shawn Despres
1. Jurrasic 5 @ Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) on July 27 (live photos here)

2. Jambinai @ Veloso on October 12

3. Bo Ningen @ Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) on July 28 (live photos here)

4. Dirty Projectors @ V-Hall on January 27

5. Goonam @ Yales Café Bar (Wrexham, Wales) on April 27 (live video here)

6. Hellivision @ Prism Live Hall on November 3

7. Galaxy Express @ Studio 2 (Liverpool, England) on May 3

8. Shugo Tokumaru @ Sangsang Madang on March 24

9. Mojo Project Sound System with Eshe @ Freebird on November 29 (live video here)

10. Bulssazo @ Sangsang Madang on March 30

Japandroids at Citybreak

Japandroids at Citybreak

Mark Russell
(shows listed by date)

Holly Odell and Damned Hillbillies @ VIPs (in Barcelona, Spain) on Jan. 18

Japandroids @ Citybreak on Aug. 18

Vidulgi Ooyoo @ Badabie on Nov. 2

Genius @ Strange Fruit on Nov. 9

Daikaiju at Double A Studio. Photo by Jon Dunbar.

Daikaiju at Double A Studio (photo by Jon Dunbar)

Jon Dunbar
1. Slackers @ Pawn Shop (Edmonton, Canada) on June 15 and 16  (live photos here)

2. Kingston Rudieska @ Prism Live Hall on December 29 (live photos here)

3. Autocratics @ Prism Live Hall on February 9 (live photos here)

4. Heimlich County Gun Club @ Hongdae Playground on May 25 (live photos here)

5. Daikaiju @ Double A Studio on August 4 (live photos here)

6. Yuppie Killer @ Club Spot on October 26 (live photos here)

7. Dr Ring Ding and friends @ Club Ta on August 3 (live photos here)

8. Funkafric & Boostdah @ Blue Star on April 5 (live photos here)

9. Oki Band @ Kuchu Camp on September 7 (live photos here)

10. Epaksa and the Mimi Sisters @ Sangsang Madang (Label Market) on January 19 (live photos here)

Metallica at Citybreak

Metallica at Citybreak

Dain Leathe​m
1. Metallica @ Citybreak on August 18

2. The XX @ Ansan Valley Rock Festival on July 26

3. Japandroids @ V-hall on February 14

4. Galaxy Express @ Rolling Hall on January 20

5. The Killers @ Olympic Hall on October 5

6. Placebo @ Jisan World Rock Festival on August 3

7. Supreme Team @ Green Plugged on May 17

8. One Drop East @ Club Ta on May 17

9. Shut Da Mouth with Pinnacle the Hustler @ Jisan World Rock Festival on August 3

10. WhoWho and Glen Check @ Club FF on July 13