Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greenplugged Rock Festival

Why must I start to get sick right before my busiest weekend ever? I seriously hope my throat starts feeling better by tomorrow, otherwise the slough of celebrations going on this weekend (Bliss Anniversary Party, Co-worker Birthday Party, Korea Game 1 in the World Cup Party) and the not so fun (working on Saturday and Sunday) will be slightly unbearable. I blame it on the heat and the fact there is no air conditioner in my apartment...

But anyway, on to more fun things...

I love many things about summer in Korea.

Yes, it gets stifling hot and humid towards the end after rainy season, but there are tons of events and festivals to fill up those steamy summer days.

That's right, it's rock festival season. And I didn't realize it until this year, but there are tons of rock festivals in Korea, which is interesting considering that the country itself is typically a K-Pop, electronic/trance/house music country.

My friend Angela and I hit up the first rock festival of the season, Greenplugged Rock Festival, on May 22 at World Cup Stadium Park and it was quite a good start to the season. It was mostly indie bands, but there were a few big names there. And a lot of the indie bands were quite good.

I got to catch my friends, Phonebooth, play first thing in the morning and it was nice seeing them on a bigger stage with a nice light set-up. They mostly played new stuff, which rocked. The crowd wasn't too big since it was the first in the line-up, but they still got everyone rocking. (Sidenote: I just found out from them that they will be playing on Saturday at Pentaport Rock Festival, July 23-25 in Incheon.)

Next we went over to check out a band that I hadn't heard before, but Angela said that they were pretty popular and would be at some upcoming festivals.They were called Gukkasten (국카스텐) and had a unique sound to them. I know the lead singer sounded similar to someone I've heard before, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. For being one of the early shows, they had a pretty good crowd. And definitely had a lot of stage charisma. I liked what I heard and I'm looking forward to catching more of them at future shows.

We decided to hang out around the main stage for a bit and found a good spot to sit. The next band described themselves as a modern rock band called Buiret. The lead singer and bass player were girls and the guitarist was this guy with crazy blonde hair. They were good, more of a power ballad-type group with the singer having something of an Evanescence-style, however it wasn't quite as powerful. It was interesting because the sound of the music didn't quite match up with the image on the stage. The way they dressed and jumped around, I almost expected more of a punk, Nana-esque sound (props to you if you know that manga/anime/movie). Again, it was good, but probably not something I would listen to all the time. (By the way, my apologies for the shoddy camera work... it's my iPhone and I was too lazy to stand. Besides, I was filming for the music, not so much the image.)

The next band we listened to was probably the oldest band there. Buhwal (부활) has been around for about 26 years and I didn't realize this until we listened to them, but they've written some of the most famous, influential, memorable songs in Korea. As the crowd started singing along with them, I found I recognized them, mostly from remakes by current pop bands or commercials. However, the lead singer was new and younger. Angela said that the group changes their lead singer every few years. I'm not sure why, but may have something to do with keeping younger generations interested. They were fun to watch at the festival, but I'm not sure I would rush out to buy any CD's. They're classic Korean rock, but I like my classic rock more like the Beatles, Billy Joel or Elton John. Classic Korean rock still sounds too "poppish" for my taste.

Of course, there was the usual wandering around the festival grounds. We found a face painting booth and decided to get our faces painted. We then sat down and watched a band called 3rd Line Butterfly. They were okay, but the lead singer wasn't that great. That's about the time that it started raining. Of course, we didn't let that hold us back. We just picked up some panchos and opened our umbrellas and continued circumventing the festival grounds, pausing at stages when we heard something we liked.

Even though the stages were fairly spread out, it was nice because there was no overlap sound-wise and the lay-out of the park made it easy to move around from one section to another. Plus, because there was so much room, it allowed for more stages (about five) which allowed for more bands. It only sucked if two or more bands that you wanted to see played at the same time. However, each stage had a little different time schedule, so you could catch a lot of shows. Also, even though there were a ton of people there, it never felt crowded.

Anyway, after getting some snacks, we settled on a hill near the Sky stage, where they had started in on the hip-hop acts. They had a fun b-boy group onstage when we got there, but the main attraction was a group called Supreme Team that came on after them. They are fairly new, I think the first time I had heard of them was last summer when I went to the Asia Song Festival. Their most popular song 'Super Magic' was used in a Nate commercial and I had been looking for it for months before I discovered it was theirs. They put on a good show and had everyone on their feet dancings and throwing their hands in the air. It was quite interesting from where we were sitting towards the back.

We left soon after that. I wanted to stay and watch Clazziquai, but we had been there for about 6.5 hours at that point, with about four of those hours being in the rain. I was wearing flip flops and my feet were getting cold, as was the rest of me since I didn't bring a jacket. Plus at that point, we had to wait another hour and a half until they took the stage. Angela and I had decided that for Jisan in July we're packing our rainboots just in case. Even if it only rains a little, the boots will help with the tons of mud that always seems to appear at rock festivals. I don't think I've ever seen my feet so dirty. Fortunately, that was easily fixed with a water fountain before we walked down to catch the bus. Unfortunately, I lost my voice the next day, probably as a result of standing out in the cold and rain for multiple hours.

A couple down sides: The location was a little difficult to get to and find. World Cup Stadium Park is huge and actually split up into two parts. We ended up missing about half of the first set even though we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there because there weren't any signs at the entrance to the park as to where we were to go. Also, we only found out as we were leaving that there was a shuttle bus that went from the festival to Hapjeong and Mapo Stations. Would have been a huge help to know that beforehand. Again, a lack of communication in Korean and English, as Angela is Korean and even she didn't really find a lot of info on the shuttle from the website.

But, it was a great start to a fun festival season. Some other bands that played: Crying Nut, Super Kid, The Koxx, Windy City, YB, Outsider, Vanilla Unity, etc. I think there were seriously close to a 100 bands over the Friday and Saturday of the festival. While a bit pricey (55,000 won at the gate for one day, 88,000 for two) it was totally worth it with the sheer amount of bands there... and all the free stuff they gave away. (Free Vitamin Water all-day... plus face-painting was free, and everyone got a gift pack with a free Starbucks mug, pancho and water.)

Up Next: Report on Time to Rock Festival from June 5 and Jisan Rock Festival (July 31- August 1)


  1. Nice write up! Unfortunately I missed that festival when I was over, but sounds like you had fun! I chuffed as hell that your guys made it to Pentiport! Vietnam has a severe shortage of live music so I'm just a little jealous of you!

  2. This was the first time I had ever heard of it, but I think my friend said it was in its second year or so. I just found out that I'm getting the last two weekends off in July, so I think I'm going to try and head over to Pentaport that Saturday to hear them play.