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Defector Frequency Wins Heat One

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BUSAN, South Korea – Last Saturday officially marked the start of competition for this year’s Battle of the Bands. And it turned out to be a fitting start indeed: accented with a great turnout of fans, four eclectic (yet tightly matched) bands, and a night of high-energy, local music.  

Kicking off the evening, the Psycho Rockets injected the crowd with a shot of their very own brand of Korean punk. They threw down the gauntlet and challenged the fans to rock out. The mob gladly accepted.

Next on was Wayfarer State who, as a full band, brought Trey Yip’s classic folk songs to a new level. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to catch Trey in concert or at an open mic, you know how he can mesmerize an audience. Both his stage presence and his lyrics adds credibility to his wandering minstrel persona, and Saturday night, everyone within earshot could clearly relate.  Despite this abrupt segue from punk to folk, no energy was lost on the stage nor the dance floor.

And then Self Made Hero thrashed it back up to 11, ripping through eight (8!) songs during their 30 minute time slot. Their intensity was matched on the floor with fans seemingly trying to join the ranks of rock-related self-inflicted-whiplash victims. Their set seemed to be over just as it had started.

Finally, The Defector Frequency humbly took the stage. Led by front man John Rennie, the foursome held nothing back and got the crowd jumping to their own style of hard rock-infused synth-pop.  

After the dust had settled and the votes were tallied, the newcomers, The Defector Frequency, managed to snatch victory and claim the first Grand Finale slot. It was incredibly close, however; out of a crowd of around 150, all the bands were within 14 votes of each other. I have to assume The Defector Frequency managed to change a few minds in their last set to steal the win.

If you didn’t catch Heat 1, dry your eyes. This Saturday’s Heat 2 is the one night (besides the Grand Finale, of course) not to be missed. There will be 5 bands in competition capped off with an exhibition set by Pinnacle and the Antidote, winners of the 2010 Stompers Battle of the Bands in Seoul. They introduced their unique blend of funk, hip-hop and soul to Haeundae earlier this year. I can’t wait to see them groove again.

The acts of Heat 2 certainly represent the diversity of Busan music. Festival favorites, South Bay, will bring the new wave ska/punk while Nacho Pupa offers a more traditional version tinged with old-world flourishes. In a strange Mexican themed name coincidence, Taco Handshake, all the way from Gyeongju, will be getting heads a-bobbin’. Also on the bill are Plastic Duck Armada, a talented, jammy rock outfit from Gimhae; and Millstone Grit, commendably composed entirely of high-schoolers.  

Remember, if you support a specific band, the only way to get them to the Grand Finale is vote.  So get to the show, it’s only 10,000 Won plus a free drink. Come out and support the Busan live music scene!

Battle of the Bands Heat 2 event page:

Heat 1 Photo Album by Mike Dixon is here:

Brian Kilrain is the bass player for One Drop East–last year's victors in the first Battle of the Bands.

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