BUSAN, South Korea –Just because the cold weather is here doesn’t mean Busan’s nightlife has gone the way of the bikini. Our fair city’s music scene is known throughout the peninsula, and right now, bands from all over Korea are seeing what it takes to win over the crowds of Busan.
Local events promoter Allive has brought the Busan indie music festival known as Battle of the Bands to town for its third year. Twelve of the the best bands from Seoul, Daegu, Jeonju, Jinju and Busan will be competing for cash prizes and bragging rights. Past winners include local favorites Nachopupa and One Drop East. But with so much talent coming from afar, who can tell if the title will stay in Busan this year or not?
Last Saturday saw the first heat go down in front of an appreciative and energetic crowd. The bands played their hearts out and fans voted for their favorite.
Local experimental metal rockers Damagia kicked off the night with energy and swagger. The three-piece used drum machines and synths to accent and drive their traditional guitar, drums and vocals into a frothy electronic stew. It was heavy metal for sure, but stayed melodic and unpretentious enough to allow any lover of music into their world. Although they are relatively new to the scene, it’s certain we’ll be hearing a lot more from Damagia.
Second act to the stage had the unenviable position of attempting to match Damagia’s energy. And they delivered. BJJ from Daegu was just joyful to watch. They just played good old fashioned rock, but they played it well and with passion. The singer’s enthusiasm was infectious, and by the time they finished their first chorus, everyone was dancing to oblivion. One highlight was their five song pop medley which included rocking versions of Justin Timberlake’s ‘SexyBack’ and 2NE1’s ‘I Am the Best’. There have been rumblings heard of Daegu’s rising indie music star and BJJ certainly honored those rumors well.
Next up was Busan’s own punk rawk party boys, Stoned. Their entire set might be best summed up in the name of their second song: ‘Drink. Drunk.’ But their inebriation didn’t slow them down in the least. They were the most entertaining band of the night with their on (and off) stage antics. And anytime a band breaks out with ‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley, you know it’ll be a crowd pleaser. I’ve just never heard it so punk rock before!
The last band of the evening was also the first non-Korean band. Seoul’s The Rub brought everyone home with their homebrew of pop, alt rock and punky country twang. They charmed the crowd with lyrics like, Itaewon Girls make me suicidal.
Their sound was fresh and familiar, and it was because of this that they took home first place of the evening. The Rub will be competing with the other preliminary heat winners for the Grand Prize December 8.
The party rolls on this weekend with one of the best lineups to ever grace Vinyl Underground, period. Hometown favorites Millstone Grit will rock your socks off. Seoul’s favorite hip-hop hustler Pinnacle is coming down with his new band RFD. New transplant from Osaka, by way of Jinju, JUNK, will be making hips sway and heads bob. And who could forget to mention the new outfit rocking open mics all over Busan, Tonic? This show is going to break some hearts. After all, only one band can move onto the finals.
So if you think you know music, or if you have no idea about music but you love it, get down to Vinyl Underground Saturday night to vote for the band you think is the best. There will be door prizes for attendees and each person that buys a ticket get’s a free drink coupon at the door.
Also, HQ Bar is selling a huge plate of BBQ pulled pork and French fries for 5,000 won to anyone going to the show. The dinner starts at 6 p.m. and finishes once the music starts at 10 p.m.. You better get to HQ early, though, because there are only 40 plates available.
If you aren’t into authentic Texas BBQ, tickets are available at the door for 10,000 won with a free drink.
This week features the band Junk.
From Battle of the Bands 2010: The Headaches