[10-3-16] Zandari Festa Day 3 was an insane whirlwind of bands for me. I somehow managed to catch 12 bands. This wasn’t the ideal way to experience some of these bands, but I took an approach to this festival with the idea that some of these bands might never make it to the States for me to see them (as much as I love Kingston Rudieska – the cost of bringing them over would be astronomical, and I don’t know who can foot the bill for that kind of effort…) So I decided I could only see acts I had never seen before, and I would try to catch at least half of as many acts as I could see. Since so many of the bands on my list were playing at the same time, I was absolutely blessed that the Zandari organizers had reduced the size of the playing field and kept all the official showcasing clubs with in a very reasonable walking distance to make this happen. (I heard some stories from last year that involved a lot of taxi rides….)
In the afternoon DoIndie put on a showcase over at Club Steelface and I caught three of them before running off to grab grub between shows.
First up was the psychedelic keytar fronted Blue Turtle Land. Man, I wish I could watch these guys play live every week. It’s like a weird trip to the past with them on the stage and front man Hong An has stepped straight out of a 1970’s photograph with his bell bottoms still in tact. (fun fact: apparently we were neighbors while I was in Hongdae! ) Watching Blue Turtle Land felt like stepping into a time machine into Korean’s awesome Psychedelic Rock era, so be sure to bring your platform shoes and paisley shirts!
Hellivision was up next and delivered one of the more unique performances of my day. I can’t narrow down this band to any one genre. They’re very experimental, so if you check them out, be prepared to have quite the experience.
I was handed a copy of Ironic Hue’s album by their label owner this spring during SXSW, so I was excited to see them on the Zandari line-up, and happy I got a chance to see them perform live. Their brand of ambient rock is relaxing and comforting like a warm blanket on a cool day.
At 5:00 I went over to Club TA (at the time, I didn’t know it, but this would be one of the last shows ever played at the ill-fated club. I’m sad knowing it doesn’t exist anymore, it was a fun concert space.)
I decided to check out Pigibit5 before the next act on my list. I don’t know if I didn’t connect with the genre, or what, but I felt like this band was pretty sophomoric in their live performance, and I couldn’t get into it, not matter what I did.
Romantiqua was up next. I love the dark, raw sensuality that I feel when these guys play. It’s like listening to someone play out your darkest emotions on stage. I really just wanted to close my eyes and take it all in.
I was super bummed to miss …Whatever That Means earlier in the fest, but had promised to check out label mates Full Garage, so I jogged over to Go Go and watched a few songs. I had a great time watching these guys, their exuberant energy was infectious and re-energized me for the rest of the night. You don’t get much more punk than these guys. I wish the turn out for them had been bigger, it was a bummer to see how empty the club was. But it was a hard night for everyone I knew – there were a lot of people running around like me.
Next it was time to run over to Steel Face again for Aseul. I have confirmed that I don’t really dig watching electronic artists live. It’s just not my thing. That being said, Aseul’s music is definitely trance-enducing electronica that I find compelling while listening to the album, so if you like watching EDM live – be sure to check her out.
Up next was my second most anticipated act of the week – PAKK. This is the latest project for one of my musical heroes – Daeinn Kim (of Apollo 18 fame.)
PAKK is like Grunge on steroids, it’s wild and kinetic, dark and grimey all at the same time. It was a very emotional set for me, having come so far in my own music tastes, because of Daeinn and A18, I was just super stoked to see them live. They didn’t disappoint. There’s something that creates a visceral reaction in me with their music, I don’t know what it is, but I feel connected to it in the core of my being. Definitely a special part of my night. (And probably my most relaxing, I think this was the only full set I was able to see!)
And now it was my biggest challenge of the night – 3 bands I desperately wanted to see were all playing in the same hour.
I stayed at Steel Face for Patients, who I have had the pleasure of interviewing several times, but only via e-mail, and they’ve never played the US, so I was anxious to finally see them. Sumin is an excellent leader and keeps the audience engaged with chatter in both Korean & English between songs. The upbeat punk beats had everyone dancing, and I was super sad to leave them. (But, happily got to catch them again, later in the week!)
Next I ran over to Club Freebird (seriously, why is that club so tucked away) and dove into “the cave” only to find that A’z Bus was barely starting their sound check. I waited anxiously for them to begin, but they didn’t start till almost half passed the hour. They were well worth the wait, however, as it became apparent why they went so far on K-Rookies. 우주’s vocals are the sexiest blend of raspy and power, making girls and guys alike go weak in the knees. I was desperately sad to have to leave, and wished I could have watched them for hours.
I wrapped my night up with the boisterous and timeless Kingston Rudieska. I ran (physically ran) over to Sangsangmadong one last time and skidded into the hall during their last song. Thankfully, as will Biuret, it was the last performance of the night and the band was called back for a (10 minute) encore. No band could have been more fun to finish out Zandari Festa with. They had the ENTIRE crowd skanking together, with the biggest smiles on their faces. It was the best audience participation I’d seen during the whole festival. And like I said, this is one of the bands I most wanted to see, because I fear they’re one of the hardest to bring over – because they have 9 members in the band. Kingston Rudieska brings their own unique flavor of Ska alive with vibrancy and passion – and you can see it in each member of the band.
Phew! Just recapping that night exhausts me. I half wish I could have relaxed and enjoyed some of these artists for their full sets, but if there is one thing I’ve learned in all my time of being a fan of Korean indie music, don’t take it for granted that the bands are going to stick around. I’ve already seen bands perform that are no longer together, so I wanted to take advantage of actually being in Korea for the first time and see as many artists as I can.
A million thanks to Zandari Festa, the artists, organizers and other fans that made it a peaceful, fun and easy to navigate festival. If they can make it easy on people who are in a foreign country for the first time – you know they’re doing something right.
Here’s hoping I get to return again next year!