Korea can do Music Festivals too!

It’s official: festival season is upon us. For us in the UK, this kicked off with the Isle of Wight fest last weekend, and already Glasto is just around the corner. Music fests are my favourite aspect of the summer season, and as soon as the sun begins to shine, festival fever becomes infectuous.

Rewind to the summer of 2008. Not having gone a summer without a rock festival since the age of fifteen, I wasn’t prepared to let the small factor of being based in Korea put a change to this. So what does a seasoned festival-er do when living in Korea? Get a flight back to England in time for Glastonbury and then return to the East, muddy and muddled? It turns out there is no need for such drastic measures.

I discovered Pentaport Rock Festival held in Incheon, and boy am I glad I did. It brought all the craziness, drunkenness, and mud of a British festival, with some music along the way.

The fest’s line-up confirmed what I had already deduced: British music is big in Korea, much bigger it seems than American. Lily Allen, Kate Nash and Duffy all featured on popular television adverts, whilst Oasis and Suede were played in local bars.

Continuing the theme, Travis and Underworld headlined Pentaport ’08; with Kasabian, Hard Fi, Feeder, and Tricky also making appearances. I’m sure that some of these bands couldn’t believe their luck at being invited to headline a festival at this particular stage in their career. The British music scene was definitely represented!

With this in mind, I was rather surprised at Pentaport’s crowd. Sure, there was the odd foreigner here and there, but this was a predominantly Korean mob, teeny bopping and moshing to British indie. Even my uni-age students were into Brit groups, and were jealous that I was off to the fest.

I did feel that there weren’t enough Korean indie bands on the bill, but then again there aren’t that many popular Korean indies (although I did discover some great bands at Chuncehon Mime Festival, at one-day Seoul indie festivals, and in city subways. Posts to follow.) One Korean act that did manage to get the crowd going was quirky, chirpy songstress Yozoh (요조), with undeniably adorable tunes like My Name is Yozoh and Banana Party (lyrics to be giggled at, listen below:)

Banana Party by Yozoh

Another musical highlight was The Gossipwhose energetic set secured the rock n roll-ness of this festival. The best moment of all came almost right at the end, though, with Underworld’s Born Slippy sending the entire crowd into a frenzy.

The festival itself did not lack in true fest atmos, helped greatly by the weather. There was everything from unbearably hot sun (free fans and towels were handed out), to not-quite-Glasto-esque rain (obligatory wellies and rain ponchos donned by all).

Camping here was very challenging. We opted for the ‘rent-a-tent’ scheme, only to find a very bedraggled, holey tent that didn’t do much to keep the rain off. Although by no means were these the worst camping conditions I have ever endured (think Glasto 2005), however this leads me to a confession… For the first and only time in my life, I decided to leave the festival on the last night, and opt for somewhere a little more comfy: the nearby jimjilbang (bath house). For the equivalent of a pound or two, I was able to shower, wallow in a hot tub, chill out in comfy pyjamas, and have a sleeping mat for the night. Zzzzzz…

I know what you’re thinking, where did my festival spirit disappear to? In all honesty, I’m not sure, as I’ve always been one to argue that camping and getting all soggy is all part of the charm of the summer music fest. I suppose convenience and price were factors, as in the UK it would be a choice between tent / hotel / home.

Okay, so the line-up wasn’t the best in the world, and maybe I did escape the mud one night early. Yet Pentaport was quite simply brilliant. It was so important to me and my maties to have somewhere like this to go, and I don’t know what I would have done without it. The randomness of the line-up, and the enjoyment of the entire experience were entirely unique.

Yet maybe the best thing about this experience was realising that Koreans aren’t just into K-pop, and that the Korean indie scene is very much alive and kicking.

Lounging in the sun, eating fest yummies

In rainier times

Pentaport Festival chic

Happy festival-ing!
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One Response to Korea can do Music Festivals too!

  1. Jay Turner says:


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