Verv called me up late Friday afternoon asking if I wanted to go to Zeinab's birthday party in a couple hours. It was put together pretty quickly, just us and a whole bunch of Iranians, but I guess she's never celebrated her birthday in Korea so it was a big deal to her. We went to a barbecue restaurant that had beef and had a pretty good time. Verv invited people back to his place but I escaped, already aware what kind of hangover he'd get the next day.
20 November 2015
My work schedule gives me alternating six- and four-day work weeks, wherein sometimes I skip Fridays and sometimes I work Sundays. This day I had a three-day weekend which I spent wandering around Jongno. An errand to the bank led me to another way into Anguk Building past security and I was easily able to get up to the roof. It's about what I could've hoped, overlooking Insadong, the Empty Embassy Compound, and my neighbourhood. I wasn't able to spot any fugitive labour activists, though.
14 November 2015
Second Saturdays Mr Headbutt Reunion
The Second Saturdays show had two bands I hadn't seen before, JP's one-man band Octopoulpe and the new skinhead band The Brigade. Plus, Mr Headbutt, who I haven't seen in a long, long time. I also wrote about them in the Seoul Magazine article alongside Things We Say, so I was also planning not to let them down as well. Photographing Clayton was hard because the lighting was especially strong on him, creating high contrasts that don't work well for my style.
Things We Say Last Show
Victor from Things We Say announced that the band is breaking up, mainly due to the busyness involved in having three daughters and living at least an hour south of Seoul. I did an interview with him for Seoul Magazine and I've placed an order for buttons from his Button King business, so I wasn't going to skip the show. However, I also needed to get to the show in Hongdae to see the first act, so I left a little early.
14 November 2015
Said to be the largest protest in Korea since the 2008 mad cow protests, this one was a conglomeration of protest groups with various causes, ranging from the state-written history textbooks and labour reforms that would increase the number of unsecured temp jobs, to the lowering value of rice and youth unemployment, to Sewol and apparently the plan to construct a cable car on Seorak, among numerous others. I took a quick run by and hit a roof, then moved on with my life.
12 November 2015
Penta Security didn't have a roof. KOCIS didn't have a roof. This is not something I use to gauge a job's value, but if I did, the KT would rank very high. In this direction you can see two overpasses, the latter which is Seoul Station Overpass. There's Seoul Station, and I can also see the row of buildings mainly specialised for cobblers.
11 November 2015
American Thanksgiving is a little over two weeks away, which is just the right amount of time to make ewhaju. Maybe it'll make a good replacement for applesauce? Or rice pudding if that's ever eaten. Anyway, I invented a fun new kind of tteok out of the experience.
So far it's been fermenting enthusiastically. The first few days I had to shake out all the bubbles forming, which hadn't happened with my original batch which just kind of sat there for two weeks. It turned out alright but the texture to this one looks like it'll be a lot smoother.
Basically he sets up various boxes for donations of animals and toys, with one big one, and writes reasons for their owners abandoning them. Of course he didn't use real animals, which would have been kind of funny. He seemed to get a pretty good reaction from passersby, with the ones noticing him seeming appreciative. He was cold after an hour, so I got here just at the end.
7 November 2015
We went to a familiar abandoned neighbourhood, where demolition was proceeding at an expected rate. Just like last time, we got chased away from one section that seems to be vigilantly guarded by the locals. I can't imagine why at this point. I mean I get why evictees feel sensitive, but why just this one spot?
2 November 2015
Buster hasn't been feeling well lately. I first noticed he was having trouble jumping onto the bed and his rocking chair. Not so sure what it meant, I took him to the vet, who figured out that he has back pain that's making it hard for him to use his back legs. This is probably brought on by his weight, which has been increasing in the last year. Fattie.
31 October 2015
...Whatever That Means at DGBD
After the AA show, a bunch of us wandered over to DGBD where World Domination, Inc was having a big Halloween show. The place was packed and I only stayed for WTM. Jeff and Trash had pretty impressive costumes, and I'm guessing they actually put a bit of money into dressing up this year. The lighting in DGBD was favouring the colours that make people look less human, so it was tough taking suitable pictures.
Eat Brains: Halloween Hardcore 1
AA was double booked, with the first show going from 4 to 6 before the Yuppie Killer guys took over with Halloween decorations and free mystery alcohol. This first gallery has Dead Chunks, Acid Party, Yuppie Killer, MyManMike, Le crabe, and Food for Worms.
31 October 2015
Shining Cocks First Show at AA
I rushed from the secret bunker over to AA in Hongdae, where Shining Cocks were having their first show. Not too surprisingly, their sound is comparable to Green Flame Boys and Chongkook, all three bands which share one member. This show also had Green Flame Boys do a set, as well as Yokay Ingun, whose bassist was covered in green body paint which helped him to go pretty wild. I hope Shining Cocks stick around a little longer than Chongkook.
31 October 2015
I went back to the secret bunker to see what they'd done with it. It's been turned into a pretty nice space with pictures on display showing the history of Yeouido and the rediscovery of the bunker. I wonder if they'd ever let concerts be put on here.
30 October 2015
If you're like me, even a little, then you've probably been wondering why there's been a construction fence up in front of Jongmyo for years. I finally took the time to stop by at night, jump the fence, and figure it out for myself. Of course, it turned out the fence didn't offer protection on all four sides, so I probably could've gotten in easier. Looking at how the park next door is used, I think this area will be embraced by the local community when it eventually opens. Judging by the signage, there've been delays, and the end probably is not in sight right now.
29 October 2015
Buster's been extra lazy lately, and I've noticed him struggling to jump up on things like his favourite rocking chair or the bed. I guess it's time for a diet or exercise or cat liposuction or something. No, this is not connected with his newfound love for ewhaju.
28 October 2015
Two weeks after the course at Susubori, and the ewhaju was ready for bottling. I made just less than half what I made last time. It's mostly good, but with lots of large chunks of hard rice that shouldn't be there. Buster does like ewhaju and on two different nights I've gotten him to lick the spoon, but Millie doesn't care for it. Now that this is done with I'm looking forward to trying again in the near future.
25 October 2015
RASKB Joseon Seoul Walk with Peter Bartholomew
I joined up with the RASKB tour of downtown Seoul led by Peter Bartholomew. Last year I ran into the tour at its end, so this time I did the whole thing. It was a pretty long day but hearing about things from Peter's perspective drawing from the past 40 years was impressive. The most entertaining thing about the tour is that every year he finds something new that's been demolished, unnecessarily renovated, or ruined. This year, we found three such things.
24 October 2015
I wandered around Insadong on Saturday night, wasting time so I wouldn't be too tired the next morning. I didn't see much, just the usual demolition and urban renewal.
21 October 2015
Cop Day Night
If it's a cop holiday, I'm not going to just sit around. Unfortunately the cops did have to work on their big anniversary, but it's not like they were working hard enough to catch us A visit to one place was cancelled, and then as we were wandering away in disappointment I remembered this tunnel in the area I wanted to check out.
It's no subway tunnel but it ended up being pretty interesting, and for a tunnel, especially one with those big vinyl curtains at the entrance, it didn't smell so bad. Definitely going to have to revisit this place. We didn't see any evidence of a crime (other than possibly our visit), but that didn't deter me from CSIing the hell out of the place.
21 October 2015
In three pictures, I tell the story of the lives of two young girls who come to the Cop Day celebration, become enamored of cops, enlist in the police force themselves, and age from young to middle-aged before your very eyes.
Also, I was fingerprinted and given official-looking KCSI badges, which I figure is the next best thing to deputising me. So that means rather than urban exploring, in the future you'll see me Crime Scene Investigating.
20 October 2015
Tyler's parents were visiting Korea for the first time, and Tyler was back in Seoul briefly, so I met up with them and showed them around Jongno.
On our way through Gwanghwamun we found out that the next day was a cop holiday, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the police force or something. They were setting up for a festival the next day including all sorts of experience programs and giveaways, and I got a balloon and a box of police-issue crayons. And we got to go in the KCSI bus and see all the lab equipment.
We also saw a lot of cops hard at work guarding a right-wing demonstration, in favour of the state-issue textbooks that erase some of the uglier parts of Korea's modern history, such as the fact that many Korean traitors aided the Japanese occupation.
17 October 2015
Fanzui Xiangfa and ATF at Jarip HQ
And here are the pictures from the second day of the tour. They intersected with a Japanese band called ATF, and both bands went on to play separate shows on Sunday, with Nevin's band going to Busan and ATF going to Hongdae.
There were a ton of reunions this day, especially when you factor in the film screening with Stephen Epstein prior.
16 October 2015
Fanzui Xiangfa Afterparty
Afterwards, everyone went out to a nearby restaurant for meat and/or vegetables. Apparently Nevin and his band were up until 5am. Surprisingly they still made it for the next show tomorrow. Pictures coming soon.
16 October 2015
Fanzui Xiangfa at Yogiga
Nevin came back to Korea for the first time in ages -- I think the last time I saw him, I was married and Jeff wasn't (or at least was in the process of becoming married). He brought with him his cousin Adam and their Beijing punk band Fanzui Xiangfa. For the first of three shows, they played in Yogiga, which works as a punk venue better than I expected.
15 October 2015
On my way out to the RASKB office, I saw a riot police bus parked next to Changdeokgung, which I don't recall seeing happen before. Sure enough, while I was at the office, a fairly large protest headed down from Daehangno. There was one poor beer truck with a worker inside probably worrying about if he'll meet all the deadlines for his deliveries that day.
14 October 2015
Before this year, I'd never seen the infamous pesticide spray trucks. Then in a very short timeframe, I saw it happen three times all close together. This last one hit my neighbourhood, which freaked out the cats quite a lot.
Empty Korail Lot
Someday, someone's going to give me a tip leading to a deathtrap. This time, Jacco sent me to a Korail property north of Seoul Station. As I reported back, anything with this many homeless people wandering around outside and set up inside can't truly be called abandoned. I left quickly not out of fear for my life but concern that my presence might lead to increased security concerns.
13 October 2015
Secret Bunker and Mapo Bridge
I hoped to get inside the secret bunker at Yeouido, but it's only open on weekends now, and it's also no longer possible to sneak in.
Rather than let my time go to total waste, I walked out across Mapo Bridge and had a closer look at their anti-suicide measures. Which from what I hear don't actually work, and have been making more people think more deeply about committing suicide rather than the other way around.
11 October 2015
Ewhaju Lesson at Susubori
I previously took a class in making makgeolli specifically to prepare for a later class on ewhaju, the alcoholic mixture you eat with a spoon. Picture if makgeolli had very little water content, and that's basically what it is. Also, I almost blew up the Susubori room.
8 October 2015
Kingston Rudieska at Mu:Con
Walter was back in town for a visit and Kingston Rudieska got him to do a song with them at Mu:Con, another music showcase event. I got a free pass, but after Zandari I didn't really have the energy for another music festival, let alone that many more pictures. The venues were larger and less suitable for photography, and most of the bands were less interesting than Zandari's lineup. Kingston Rudieska did a half-hour performance that only improved by having Walter join them. The lighting wasn't great, and wasn't suited for someone of his height with his skin colour.
7 October 2015
Well I was surprised to find a few weeks ago that one of my favourite subway tunnel entrances had been removed. Fortunately the whole subway line has been mapped out from end to end, and I was able to scout along it aboveground and locate a few more ways down.
7 October 2015
Heavy Lies the Head
I've finally eaten my way through a whole box of Chuseok apples and pears, and I've collected a great deal of what I can only assume are fruit cozies. And they just happen to be about the same size as a cat's head, so maybe they'd fit...
Buster appears cooperative in these photos, with a regal look on his face, but that's really his "why does this shit always happen to me?" expression.
After TsuShiMaMiRe was Jungles!, a band with possibly more exclamation marks in their name than I'm letting them have. They were another all-girl Japanese punk band, which you'd think I'd be getting bored of by now. I think by seeing them I managed to watch all the bands I'd missed at the Skunk Hell show from a couple days earlier.
They decorated the stage with tinsel, bringing in some yuletide joy they probably wouldn't be aware of, and played a set that was once again Crying Nutted.
We made it back to Strange Fruit, where two of the Japanese bands were putting on their own afterparty show.
The first of these was TsuShiMaMiRe, who played a much less hungover show and proved that I wasn't wrong before when I thought they were the best Japanese band I'd seen this weekend.
Kingston Rudieska at Freebird
For the first time, I left that one little corner of Hongdae and headed over to the new Freebird, former location of 500, for Kingston Rudieska. They put on quite a good show, in a venue that was built for Jamaican music, and I scared away all the girls there on the dancefloor.
The venue itself looks pretty good. I miss the early days of 500 when it was a no-shoes club and everyone was in their socks. You could sit on the floor everywhere and it was a cozy experience, like sitting in the Flintstones' living room. Oh well, still a great place.
This was the second of three sets I saw where Crying Nut's Insoo jumped on stage and joined in. Obviously all three were planned, which leads me to wonder how many performances I missed that he joined. It's always fun to see him join a performance and it really energises the band he's helping out.
This band was some combination of Sato Yukie with some other Japanese musicians. I've seen Gopchang Jeongol once before, and I know there were originally no girls in the band. Anyway, whoever these women were, they took center stage and were a lot of fun.
It was strange seeing Sato Yukie, former frontman of Gopchang Jeongol, performing inside Gopchang Jeongol, the venue. I'd never seen this one room before, and it was not like something from our century.
Max Reynolds has apparently played the last two Zandari Festivals. He first came on Korea's radar when he connected with Galaxy Express on one of their visits to SXSW, and it sounds like he's finally relocated to Seoul to see what he can do with the music scene here.
This show featured him backed by two Korean musicians, and apparently they'd only had two practices prior to this. They covered Misfits and Rancid, but their best stuff was the original material. I'm not sure if the music scene will treat him all that differently than all the other foreigners who've been contributing already, but he'd probably have something to add to our scene.
I don't get as many chances to see Dead Buttons these days, as they've gotten big enough to not play the type of shows I can afford.
They're basically on the same trajectory of Galaxy Express, a really talented rock band whose style isn't offputting enough to turn away large numbers of fans. I can't even remember the last time I saw them, but I'm certain they didn't have such a sizeable fan club sitting up front (well, last show nobody would have been sitting).
Dead Buttons are that band that deserve any fame they get, and since there are only two of them, it's a lot easier to send them all over the world on tour. I couldn't think of a better band to act as ambassadors of our small music scene.
It seems they've had a major member change, which could explain why they aren't as well known these days. Their new stuff is fine and challenging for your perceptions of pop music, but I do miss the violin.
We started the second day of Zandari with TsuShiMaMiRe, one of the many all-girl Japanese bands playing the festival.
They ended up being my favourite of all the Japanese bands I saw, mainly because their sound was a little more original. Initially I thought they were a little less energetic than the other Japanese bands, which seems to be a selling point they all hit, but one song later they were doing some pretty crazy things I haven't seen on stage before. Their bassist was dressed pretty conservatively, but was still able to kick higher than her own head which is quite a feat for someone not holding a bass guitar.
They mentioned that they were all hungover from the night before, and that they'd have a second performance later tonight which, if you aren't reading this chronologically, you already know.
3 October 2015
Green Flame Boys at Zandari Day 1
I started Zandari Festival on the Steel Face Rooftop, where Green Flame Boys opened the show. I'd been meaning to check this place out for quite a while, as it seems a pretty obvious pairing for me.
As soon as the band started, people in the alley below gathered to watch, and sure enough the cops arrived shortly after. You can be as loud as you like in Hongdae, as long as you aren't playing live music.
Anyway, due to the Zandari connection, they were allowed to continue playing.
Lolita No.18 at Zandari Day 1
I was pretty surprised that Lolita No.18 was coming to Korea. They're basically one of the most important all-girl punk bands of Japan, and way back in the day they gave a break to Korea's all-girl band Nonstop Body by recording a split album together, including a cover of "I Fought the Law" which they performed together. Today, the only cover I noticed was "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Lolita No.18 reminded me more than I'd expect of Shorty Cat, both in the similar fashions right down to hairstyles and colours, as well as a lot of the musical style. Both bands had the convention, whether they intended it or not, of combining tomboy antics with hyper-infantilised vocals. Well, the lead vocalist has a very powerful, almost quacking vocal style, but the bassist's voice was as high-pitched as possible.
They played an extremely short set, starting late and ending early.
The plan was to meet up with Nik who'd gone off to see LOD way on the other end of Hongdae -- he arrived in time to see their encore song, which was five seconds long. Here, we would see a few songs by ...Whatever That Means before heading on to the next show. As such, we stayed for two or three songs and hit the road, and I only ever got one remotely workable picture of them.
PET at Zandari Day 1
Nik had gone to Skunk Hell and seen all the Japanese punk bands the night before, so he told me PET was especially good. I think they were the only non-all-girl punk band from Japan.
Their set was active and energetic. I recall the vocals being a bit more glam metal influenced, or that was in their DNA somewhere.
The audience loved them, though it turned out later that the Japanese punks were all here.
Plastic Kiz are from Daegu and I've only ever known about them through Kyle's reporting in Broke. I'd heard them described as skatepunk but they're nothing like that. Their music is deep and brooding, at least in this setting, with long songs that don't rely on cheap hooks.
And at the end of the set, the girl sitting next to me jumped up and started handing out "We live in fucking Daegu" (or something like it) sampler CDs they'd made specifically to proselytise at Zandari.
Veggers and Patients at Zandari Day 1
We returned again to the rooftop for the third time to see the Veggers. Crying Nut was also playing this slot somewhere else, but Nik had never seen the Veggers before and that seemed the more completist choice. Besides, we'd see Insoo jump on stage for two different bands the next day.
Also, we stuck around to see a couple songs by the Patients on their home turf, but we had to get going. The rooftop venue is the Patients' project, and they're working on setting up an indoor venue in the building sometime later this year. Hongdae could use something like that, though I'm sure the neighbours wouldn't be happy.
Jambinai at Zandari Day 1
I'd still never seen Jambinai before, so this was the perfect chance to give them a try. Their set is brooding and sort of not fun the way other bands are, but fascinating and stimulating nonetheless. There's no wonder these guys have been summoned to play their unique blend of fusion music all over the world. Listening to them, they're a hard rock band played on traditional instruments, rather than trying to play particularly traditional Korean sounds. Anyway, it works.
2 October 2015
My last visit here was in February, and the only thing that's changed since then is the vegetation. It seems like this project has stalled, which is a pretty big deal considering it's such a large tract of land in such a good location.
1 October 2015
Exorcising the Nightmare Lab
Every time I visit the Nightmare Lab, there's a different way in. Also this time, there were more security features, and we set off an alarm as we left.
Most unnerving, when we first entered the building, we heard a door slam somewhere upstairs, and thought we heard footsteps moving around. After five minutes and occasional repeats of the same noises, we decided to proceed. After a visit to the lab itself, we decided to track down the source of the noise. Sure enough, it was traced back to two doors on the top floor of the building, blowing in the wind. I encountered a similar but enhanced effect at the abandoned mental hospital, but with more doors at once. Here, not wanting this place to reach the ghost-hunting circuit, we secured the doors so no one else would come and hear strange things going bump.
What could've been a quiet, peaceful night (especially with Verv's absence) turned into a late-night piss-up when the RASKB afterparty ran into Changeun from Find the Spot and we ended up drinking all night on a Tuesday night.
28 September 2015
Chuseok Day 4: Home
Nik came back to my place to visit Millie and Buster. Surprisingly, it seems like they remember him, probably from when he spent a week catsitting them back in 2010 when I was in a country that rhymed with South Korea. Buster was as always the most social one, but Millie in a rare departure got really fucked up on catnip in front of a guest, something she normally doesn't do.
28 September 2015
Chuseok Day 4: Yulgongno
On the way home, we stopped at the tunnel being dug between two UNESCO sites. It was predictably pretty nice and peaceful for the holiday, and we had a quick look through while rain threatened. Then, dakgalbi.
28 September 2015
Chuseok Day 4: Yongma Land
Yongma Land is always worth an occasional visit, and I think I've been there about once each year since discovering it. But this time, we had a drone. Apparently, the owner said this was the busiest he's seen it since it became this semi-abandoned but supervised amusement park, and one of the members of our group remembered coming here back when it was still active.
27 September 2015
Chuseok Day 3: Magok Wasteland
For the afternoon, one more brownfield zone. We went to Magok, the largest wasteland in Seoul that shrinks every time I visit. So much of the land has been stirred up and rearranged, disrupting the nature gone wild I saw on my previous visit. We managed to visit the abandoned wooden factory where this disturbing video was filmed, we saw wildlife creeping back into the area, and we climbed over (and under) a lot of dirt. I find brownfield zones oddly attractive, and you don't have to care so much with no buildings around.
27 September 2015
Chuseok Day 3: Anarchaeology
On the morning of Chuseok, I intended to wake up early and hit a few locations. I ended up getting out of bed around 10am, which wasn't quite good enough. I visited a New Town construction site with a poor fence design, followed by three brownfield zones. The one in Deoksugung put me at unease, so I moved on to Sogong-dong where I documented the dismantling of the archaeological dig. Last, I visited the empty embassy compound in Bukchon, only to have a very patient security guard spot me right as I was scaling a fence.
Next, we went to the Galaxy Apartment complex, where it turned out our favoured entry point had been sealed up and also that seven foreigners lurking through an apartment complex is too much. So we had a feast and a couple guys cleaned out the local crane machine, which was a good enough time, and then those of us remaining at the end scaled the fence and gave the apartments one last visit. There are maybe six buildings left, and two of them still seem like they may be occupied.
25 September 2015
Chuseok Day 1: Subway
Friday night was the least busy day of the weekend, which meant it was the best time to do the craziest thing: active subway tunnel.
Things have changed down here, making this tunnel way less safe than before. Increased traffic has resulted in louder ventilation fans and more frequent trains. Usually I say we stay for two trains maximum, but having arrived just as two trains passed, we didn't have to wait long at all for the next two trains to come by. As we were in the tunnel deafened to the next incoming train, I only managed to see the glow on the walls and rushed everyone back to safety before the train passed. Then as we were leaving the fans shut off, which would've really helped a few minutes earlier. But yeah, this is why subway tunnels are not for beginners. Our close call still had a full minute of warning, which is the closest I've ever come.
24 September 2015
Chuseok Day 0: Scouting
Chuseok is always a big time in Korea. People with family get to spend one of the most intense family holidays together, and family-less foreigners are left to our own devices. In this case, devices means cameras, drones, and other gadgets.
On Thursday night prior to the long weekend, Kanghee and I met up to do some scouting. Our original plan was to visit a favourite subway tunnel under construction, but it's a good thing we scouted in advance because our original entrance is long gone and it'll take a while to figure out another entry point.
20 September 2015
Metal Show at Nori Bar
Two Japanese bands, Guevnna and Zothique, were in Korea for a weekend tour, and I caught them at Nori Bar in Sinchon on Sunday, also running into my old friend Nik back for a visit after so many years.
The show was definitely stolen by Christfuck, whose set included fake blood, nudity, and sodomy with religious icons. Probably NSFW.
20 September 2015
The McDonald's in Sinchon now has a customiseable menu, so you can basically make whatever you want. Within reason; I don't think you'd be able to make a McGangBang using this system.
Everyone's been raving about the cool part of Hannam downhill from the mosque. There are plans to redevelop a lot of the surroundings, so I paid a visit to see what it's like right now. I had actually considered moving here in 2007, but it really isn't all that pleassant to live in. Steep hills and not very nice buildings, so we moved to Geumho instead.
19 September 2015
I revisited the two latest abandoned neighbourhoods in Geumho area, both of which are now dustbowls.
18 September 2015
I got the morning off work so I could go back to Sungkyunkwan to see the Seokjeon Daeje ceremony for Confucius' birthday. I got there a bit late and saw most of the end of the ceremony, basically picking up where I last left off.
17 September 2015
Here are some pictures around Yeouido, including a sunset and a work dinner.
Yeouido is basically a corporate dystopia, and the only time it seems lively is during lunch hour.
13 September 2015
I'll have a bigger update soon, but for now, here's a look at the Golden Plot of Sogong-dong.
6 September 2015
People, Places, and Animals
Here are a bunch of pictures taken over a few days showing some of the people I met and places I visited and animals I snuggled with.
5 September 2015
Being up north in Seoul, I decided to look around a bit more and visit some of the moon villages in the area. They are not that nice, though not as awful as Guryong. I happened to time my visit to when the pesticide truck was making the rounds.
5 September 2015
For Korea Magazine, I'm doing an article on Korean music, so I looked up Hendrikje Lange to do an interview with her. I brought my speedlight to this outdoor performance to improve the picture quality, but got a bit of humidity on my lens filter which ruined all the pictures. Oh well.
29 August 2015
After the ska festival, we weren't tired of music yet, so four of us headed over to Blue Star to see if we could catch any of Funkafric Boostdah, who were playing a set there. Turns out the show didn't go so late, but we got food and good makgeolli and said hi to a few friends also there.
29 August 2015
NGOSKA Fest 4 - Toasters
Meeting Rob, who I don't feel weird describing as "the man who brought ska to America," was impressive. He was pretty low-key, as are most musicians on tour, but after the thought-provoking interview he did with Broke, I was curious to see what he'd be like in person. The band is almost as old as me, and I was surprised how intimately familiar the audience was with his music. I also learned the real truth behind his nickname "Bucket" which otherwise seemed like an odd thing to associate with, even with his explanation being it's from "Long Shot Kick the Bucket." It is but how it arrived in place as his nickname is kind of a big surprise I think he's not comfortable with making publicly known.
29 August 2015
NGOSKA Fest 3 - Beat Bahnhof, Respects, Skasucks
The night before the show, when I met with three members of Beat Bahnhof and Rob from the Toasters at a meat place in Hongdae, I told them I really liked Autocratics and Rollings. One member said "I used to be in Rollings" and another said "I used to be in Autocratics." That was amusing. Looking at their bio, if I'd mentioned Bon DX I may have been three for three. In concert, they were exactly what you'd think based on the label -- energetic 2tone-influenced Japanese ska, with no shortage of sunglasses. They were a lot of fun, and it was a good choice to pair with the Toasters, though they'd have to ratchet back the energy a little.
Respects were one of two newly formed bands this year, which is why I wanted to interview them.
Skasucks had a great show, I'd say probably even better than last year's, just because the venue better allowed them to access their secret weapon -- the audience. The lineup has had some significant changes from last year, adding in Janghyup and Jongo and making the whole thing a little more skinhead. And seeing Insoo from Crying Nut jump in to play keyboards alongside Goyang was a thrill.
Kingston Rudieska started a little slower, but they have some unbeatable hits they deployed at this show, including "Gimme Your Love" with their "macho" sax player Nakwon filling in for Stingers ATX's Walter on guest vocals. I think the band is starting to develop Nakwon and Cheolwook more as vocalists, which is great because they both sound fantastic.
The festival started a little slowly as people gradually poured in, and by Burning Hepburn it was in full swing. The first couple bands were helped greatly by the energy provided by our friends from Daegu and the inexhaustible dancing of a kilt-clad Ji Min-geun. That guy's a superhero.
23 August 2015
A Ninja-Flavoured Funerary Ceremony
Sunday, 23 August was the ten-year anniversary of the death of Ninjalicious, considered by those who've been around long enough as the originator of the current concept of urban exploration, and also possibly the name itself. A Torontonian, Ninjalicious was one of the first to write about visiting forbidden places, and unlike most contemporary urban explorers, he wasn't some camera geek who cared more about equipment than seeing an unbelieveable sight.
Ten years on, we have a small but productive and enthusiastic community, located 16 hours by plane away from his hometown, but still very much indebted to Ninjalicious and his writing. On the other hand, you can't count on Canadians to practice ancestral worship ceremonial sacrifices, and in the off chance the Koreans were right on this one, why not throw him a party?
The party in question is known in Korean as a gijesa, involving a ritual sacrifice of food and alcohol with incense and candles and bowing. And at the end we get to eat everything left there that's actually edible. At the end we cleaned up our garbage and vanished into the afternoon, in search of more food and alcohol.
Wherever Ninjalicious is, he may have felt a tug toward Korea, a country he's probably never visited, and he may have been surprised to see this meal spread out for him.
Please remember that these photos are all copyrighted to me. If you want to use
them in any way, there's a 90 per cent chance I'll give you my permission, and be able to
give you a copy with a higher DPI.