On March 7th and 8th San Francisco was treated to two nights of Asian Indie music at the Broadway Studios as a special preview for CAAMfest (formerly known as San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.) This event was the launch of San Francisco Music Matters Asia geared towards spotlighting Asia’s top indie artists. The showcase was made possible thanks to Music Matters and their collaborative efforts with the music promoters (The Wall of Taiwan, DFSB Collective of Korea and Maybe Mars of China) along with Viki.com.
The first night open Kim Jin Ho of SG WannaBe fame as a special guest. He sang two ballads off his new solo album “Today,” including the song of the same name and “Family Portrait” that he’d written to show his appreciation for his deceased father. Though his music runs more along the lines of Kpop than with the Indie genre, his emotional ballads lent nicely to warming up the audience.
EDM Chinese duo White+ rolled out shortly after and used a combination of their own vocals and synthesized effects to create an organic song for this live show. Lowdown 30 followed and introduced the first set of rock songs for the night with a feeling of the blues familiar to rock of the mid 1960’s. Galaxy Express exploded on to stage throwing the crowd in to a frenzy of head banging energy. Even though their songs were in Korean a large portion of the audience sang along with some guidance from the band.
Punk rock band No Brain was last to take the stage, but easily kept the built up energy of everyone going strong throughout their performances. No Brain’s singer Bulldaegal showed his humor and showmanship when urging the audience to purchase their CDs and shirts at the merchandise table. The highlight of the night for me was when No Brain’s drummer Hyoonga became the singer for their newest song “One Glass of Soju” which features the members feigning intoxication from drinking, as Hyoonga described, “Korea’s most popular alcohol” and miming the process of doing shots and screaming “Gyaaaaa~!” for the chorus. It was a lot of fun to see this song performed live!
The second night proved to be just as energized as the first with a packed venue for opening act The Chairman hailing from Taiwan. The Chairman definitely had the most elaborate attire of all the groups decked out in long silk coats and ornate eye masks while the lead sported a San Francisco Giants jersey. The Gar mellowed out the venue for an extended set of garage band style tunes. Goonam (full name being Goonamguayeoridingstella) brought a very groovy presence to the stage. You could tell the band was having a great time as each member played off the others energy with huge smiles on their faces throughout each song. The Gold Medalists, a local indie group, changed things up with their own Bay Area flavor of rock. Next up 3rd Line Butterfly enchanted the audience with their wistful songs and alluring vocalist hitting all the right notes. I personally loved their song “Hello” not just for it’s English lyrics but for it’s catchy hook as well. Closing out the eventful two nights was Chinese rock band Carsick Cars.
I’m a frequent concert go-er, but I usually attend more pop centered shows. This was my first indie based event and I’ve got to say it was an incredible experience. The diversity in each group was fun to discover through each performance. The environment was extremely laid back but the musicians were really engaging with the audiences despite their being a language barrier. While I’d heard of some of these groups before I hadn’t been exposed to their music at the time. I left both shows with new friends, and new CDs to be promptly added to my music playlists.
If you missed the groups in San Francisco, Goonam, Lowdown 30 and No Brain are currently touring North America as part of the Seoulsonic 2K13 tour until the beginning of April. Galaxy Express is also doing a solo tour throughout North America (check their Facebook for dates/venues), and their new documentary “Turn It Up To 11 Part 2: Wild Days” can be seen this coming Friday at 7PM as part of CAAMfest at the Great Star Theater in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Check out more photos from the event on our Facebook page.