Since 2012 Zandari Festa, an annual indie music festival, takes place in Hongdae celebrating not only the local musicians but groups and artists from around the world. I’d been dying to attend since I heard about it back in 2013. Fast forward to 2016 and an opportunity arose where’d I’d be in Korea for this festival and let me tell you, it was magical!
Unfortunately I couldn’t attend Day 1 so my experience will be focusing on artists that performed on Day 2 and Day 3!
I hadn’t planned on checking out AKUA because it conflicted with the Natural Killers time slot/venue location. However it was raining pretty hard earlier in the day so all the Steelface Rooftop performances were moved indoors where the Press lounge was. So, lucky me, I got to see them perform a couple songs. They have a very dreamy quality to their sound which you can check out on their Soundcloud.
Natural Killers (ナチュラルキラーズ)
Natural Killers were performing right next door at MUV Hall. I had been looking forward to seeing them as I’m a fan of another Japanese Jazz band, ChihiroYamazaki+ROUTE14, and I was curious if they’d have a similar sound/stage presence. Natural Killers had a more psychedelic vibe to their songs while Chihiro is trumpet heavy and leaned more on the classical music side. Motose Chanoki on the keyboard stole the show for me.
Next I booked it over to Rolling Hall to catch LudiSTELO per recommendation of my friend Jenna of Rock N Seoul and I’m SO glad I went. I’ve become a fan of Electro Pop in the past few years (I blame Love X Stereo for that), and I’m a sucker for songs with synthesizers so it was a natural fit for me. I’ve honestly probably have listened to their music since the festival.
Love X Stereo (러브엑스테레오)
If you’d told me that I’d be seeing Love X Stereo perform three times in one year, I would’ve laughed and called you a liar after having not seen them since they came out to California for Seoulsonic in 2014. I’m a huge supporter of them as they’ve blossomed my love for a genre I didn’t know I’d enjoy so much (Electronic). So of course had to see them again in their element, no regrets!
Streetguns were right up next after Love X Stereo at MUV Hall so no speed walking to another venue! I think I was most excited to check out Streetguns at the festival and they did not disappoint! I was charmed by their rockabilly sound and I was impressed when the upright bassist lifted it above his head mid-song. They brought tons of energy to the stage and the audience threw it right back.
The Essence (에센스)
On my way out to catch Bluepaprika I managed to catch The Essence performing next door. They were another lovely punk rock surprise that I hadn’t originally planned on seeing. Their sound reminded me of a slightly more mellow Franz Ferdinand.
Bluepaprika is described to cover a variety of genres including folk, rock, pop and reggae so I wanted to make a point to see them at Evans Lounge, which was easier said than done as I spent 10-15 mins getting lost looking for the venue. But once I found it, I have to say that their sound fit the venue atmosphere perfectly. It was mostly seated and very serene and cosy. Not quite coffee shop tunes, but close. Great way to close out Day 2 performances!
Victim Mentality (피해의식)
I’d heard great things about Victim Mentality since their performances at SXSW so I made sure to get to Rolling Hall early. I don’t usually listen to metal music but I completely understand the appeal now. Their theatrics were amazing and boosted them to the forefront of my favorites especially for the dynamic photos ops they presented.
The Veggers (더베거스)
I’d left to go check out Pigbit5 at Club Ta but I’d just missed them as they’d ended their set early so I before heading over to MUV Hall I swung back to Rolling Hall to squeeze in a couple songs from The Veggers. Their fans were the highlight for me as the one girl kept screaming during their moments inbetween songs. Finally just before I left the guitarist, Junho, jumped off stage and did some riffs infront of said screaming fan (which happened to be right next to me). She collectively lost it and I was thrown in to a fit of giggles at the whole situation.
The Barberettes (바버렛츠)
I’ve been following The Barberettes for a couple years and I just barely missed them earlier this year when they performed at the Korea Times Music Festival. I was ecstatic to get to see these doo-wop girls. Their cheery tunes were a nice break from some of the harder hitting sounds of the previous acts.
Having been familiar with the style of EE’s music videos I was extremely curious to see how that uniqueness would translate to a live performance. Well, it was just as surreal and engaging as their videos. Not only was Yun Joung E sporting an awesome 80’s style purple pantsuit but they were accompanied by some equally talented contemporary dancers.
At this point I felt like I was living at the Rolling Hall as I bolted down the stairs to the in progress party that was punk rock act LAZYBONE. The energy in the room was similar to when I first saw No Brain perform for the first time in SF; everyone was going NUTS. People were going in and out of a full on mosh pit while shouting along to the songs then crowdsurfing and overall mayhem. Their fans were out in full force, climbing on one another’s shoulders and fist pumping. It was incredible.
Crying Nut (크라잉넛)
I was seriously torn between seeing Galaxy Express again or seeing Crying Nut for the first time since I’d missed them when they were in LA back in 2014. Naturally I was elated to get to hear their songs despite my lack physical energy. Their vibrance gave lifted me up enough so I could sing along. I couldn’t have picked a better group to close out the festival at the MUV Hall. Well.. at least until the After Party picked up a couple hours later.
Highlights for Zandari Festa 2016!
- Exposure to new genres of music: I’ve found some of my most favorite music through groups I happened upon at these Indie festivals.
- Local fans: LOVED seeing the different groups of fans come out and support their favorite artists. The passion they exuded is almost overwhelming at times.
- Meeting other bloggers and supporters of the indie genre in person: I recently felt the Indie music community to be a little off putting in some cases but being surrounded by so many enthusiastic writers during the festival rekindled that sense of passion of sharing great music with others.
- Discovering new favorites: Streetguns was the only group I was able to grab a CD of during their Zandari performance. After the festival I found out they were performing a week later at Club FF along with 24Hours (another group I missed seeing). So I was able to close out my Korea trip on an extremely high note!
In hindsight I wish I’d been able to go all 4 days had my schedule allowed it. I missed out on seeing quite a few acts such as Rock N Roll Radio, Hollow Jan, and more. I was unable to take full advantage of the press lounge because I was so busy running from venue to venue. However the sense of community was extremely inspiring and I was so blessed to have met and bonded with the people that I did in the short amount of time I was there. In the future I hope to expand on seeing more non-Korean groups since I only got a taste during the After Party but also to check out more venues (I felt like I was living in MUV Hall and Rolling Hall 80% of the time).
The Zandari staff were so welcoming and helpful and I can’t thank them enough for making the event such a pleasure to attend. Overall I highly recommend booking a trip to Korea next year if you want to see the indie music community in full swing.
For more photos from Zandari Festa 2016 check out our Flickr.
Are you fans of any of the groups that performed at Zandari Festa 2016? Do you plan on seeing any of the Korean indie acts heading to SXSW 2017? Who do you want to see come perform in America? Let us know in the comments of tweet me @teriarchibbles!
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