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Myungshin Ki Memorial Night Tonight at Strange Fruit

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

→Pia-no-jaC← Make A Quick Return

By Shawn Despres

The Seoul-Tokyo Sound Bridge event features Seoul’s Crying Nut and Vodka Rain with Tokyo acts 8otto and →Pia-no-jaC←.  The four groups played together in Japan last weekend and are teaming up again for a show on December 4 at Sangsang Madang in Hongdae.

Tokyo duo →Pia-no-jaC← make very cool instrumental art-jazz with piano and cajon.  Formed in 2005, they’ve showcased their music at the likes of Japan’s renowned Fuji Rock Festival and overseas in France, Taiwan, and Thailand.  The band made their South Korean debut in late October at the Grand Mint Festival.

“Grand Mint was exciting because it was our first ever show in Korea,” shares cajon player Hiro.  “The audience was great.  Since our music is not widespread in Korea yet, we were surprised by the unbelievable energy they gave us.”

When their Japanese distributor, BounDee, offered the opportunity to return to Seoul a mere six weeks later to play the Seoul-Tokyo Sound Bridge concert, →Pia-no-jaC← happily accepted the inviation.  Hiro and his band mate Hayato have been brushing up on their Korean and familiarizing themselves with the local music scene in preparation.

“We spoke some Korean during our last show in Seoul,” says Hiro.  “The audience was very responsive, and it gave us a lot of confidence.  We are looking forward to doing an even better show for Seoul-Tokyo Sound Bridge and can’t wait to play in Korea this weekend.

“We didn’t know about the Korean groups on the bill until the event was announced.  We’ve researched them on the Internet and listened to some of their music, though.  We think they are all great melody makers.”

This summer →Pia-no-jaC← made a colloborative album with Daishi Dance called “Piano Project.”  In September the act also issued their fifth studio effort, “This Way Up.”

“With ‘This Way Up’ we tried to add a new color to our music,” explains Hiro.  “We challenged ourselves a lot.  And while we sometimes ended up failing, we gained a lot of experience making this disc.

“Our songs are all recorded live in the studio, so we think we did a good job packaging our live atmosphere into each of the recordings.”

In March they will release the third edition of their “Eat a Classic” series, which features the band putting their own spin on famed classical music pieces.  They’ll play two dozen dates in Japan to promote the effort.  Another large scale Japanese tour, which will see →Pia-no-jaC← gig in all 47 of the country’s prefectures, is being planned for next fall.  The group sold out their recent “This Way Up” domestic tour so their 2011 jaunts should do very well.

Extremely fun to watch perform, →Pia-no-jaC←inject an amazing amount of rock ‘n’ roll energy into their concerts as they mix together dynamic originals and highly entertaining covers.  I had the chance to see them at Fuji Rock in 2009 and they were easily one of the fest’s highlights.

“We never change our →Pia-no-jaC← style, no matter what country we are playing in,” says Hiro. “We have a limited amount of time to play at events like Seoul-Tokyo Sound Bridge, so we’ll slightly arrange the staging from our usual headliner shows.  We’re going to do our best to create a great performance.”

Saturday’s concert begins at 7 pm.  Tickets are 33,000 won in advance and 38,000 won at the door.  Bye Bye Badman have been tapped as the night’s openers.  Advance tickets can be bought here (Korean only).

Check out a September Japan Times story I wrote about →Pia-no-jaC← here.              
Check out live photos of the band from Fuji Rock 2010 here.