REVIEW: Korea Times Music Festival 2017

Korea Times Music Festival is an annual festival held at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. It’s been a staple for some long time Korean music fans and this year was their 15th anniversary. KTMF is one of those shows that I buy tickets for in January every year because I know whatever the lineup is I know it’s going to be a good show.

KTMF was my first Korean music concert experience way back in 2005. The lineup that year boasted artists that included Chae Yeon, Gummy, JYP, Wheesung, Se7en and RAIN, like dancin’ in Korean—KPOP King, Rain. I don’t know how I survived.

Korea Times Music Festival generally has a great variety of artists performing ranging from trot and traditional older Korean singers to get the ajummas and ajusshis riled up to newer rookies in the KPOP scenes as well as more established artists that have been around for a while and potentially have performed at KTMF before. 2017 was no different.

2017 Artist Lineup

VICTON | Kim Yeong Im | Min Kyung Hoon | Tiffany
Cho Hang Jo | NCT 127  | Chu Ga Yeoul | Gummy
BASTARZ | Skull & Haha | Apink | DJ DOC

Ever since 2011 I’ve been attending KTMF annually with my seat ranging in pool circle seats all the way to terrace boxes with garden boxes being my favorite. But I will not lie, I was in garden box this year but I wouldn’t have minded being in terrace.

One of the rookie groups brought out this year was Victon whom I’m completely unfamiliar with, but now I need to know everything about. But I think most were excited for NCT 127 (Are they still considered rookies? They’ve only been around about a year). NCT 127 were unsurprisingly a treat to watch. Their choreography was precise but kept lively with some members throwing around their charisma to keep people engaged. Also FIRE TRUCK.

I was most excited to see Tiffany and Gummy. I didn’t realize how much of a Tiffany fangirl I was until she came out on stage. I’m usually a Sunny fan but she’s been MIA since SNSD hasn’t done anything since their ‘Lionheart’ promos. So Tiffany effectively stole my heart with her mini ‘I Just Wanna Dance’ last year. I’m still bummed they didn’t take the opportunity to do a rendition of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ with P.O (BASTARZ) or someone from NCT 127, but that’s just me. She did however do a lovely cover of ‘City of Stars’ from La La Land because KPOP is obsessed with La La Land lately.

I for sure screamed the loudest for Gummy though. She performed mostly OST songs which was a little disappointing as I’m a huge fan of her 2010 mini album ‘ Loveless.’ I was holding out hope that she’d go full diva, and sing ‘There Is No Love (사랑은 없다 )’ Mostly ‘cause that’s what she did when Team KK saw her back in 2014. Regardless she still killed it despite her awkward rendition of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ (Of all the covers she could’ve done, why that one?).

With the older singers that I’m unfamiliar with I love people watching and seeing all the families indulging in their fangirl/fanboy tendencies. While Min Kyung Hoon (vocalist for BUZZ) isn’t quite as old as some of the other artists his solo work fits in well. I also had a little moment during his performance thinking this would be the closest I’d get to seeing BUZZ perform, but I digress.

I was a little surprised at how underwhelmed I was with BASTARZ . After seeing Block B three times in the past 2 years, BASTARZ just didn’t carry the same presence and energy that Block B does as a full unit. They did their best but their exhaustion showed (especially B Bomb, can someone check on him?) which was unfortunate. There was a really sweet moment of P.O reading a prepared speech in English off a small piece of paper for the LA crowd; very endearing!

I don’t know what it is about Apink but they just don’t stick in my mind. I legit forgot I saw them at KTMF in 2015. Other than ‘No No No’ I can’t recall any of their songs. That being said I LOVED seeing how passionate their fans were. I think I enjoyed watching the fans more than Apink. They made sure Apink knew they were there and excited. Plus they have super cute Pink Panda lightsticks and matching shirts.

Lastly Skull & Haha and DJ DOC fall in to the category of me not being familiar with their music but still getting hyped along with everyone else in the stadium. Haha is always an entertaining and lovable host as well as a high energy performer. DJ DOC’s ‘Run To You’ is a guaranteed hit to get EVERYONE on their feet and bouncing to the chorus. Solid group to close out the 15th anniversary of the Korea Times Music Festival.

I LOVE going to KTMF. There’s generally at least 2-3 artists I’m hyped to see and then learn about ones I’m less familiar with. In the future I hope they start to incorporate more Korean indie artists as this festival is a great platform for them to reach a wide range of fans. They have brought some in the past but it’d be great for it to be a little more consistent each year.

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Did you go to KTMF this year? What was your favorite moment? How does it compare to other Korean music festivals or concerts you’ve attended? Tell us below or tweet me @teriarchibbles.

KPOPmaps is a column about KPOP, but without the assistance of GPS.

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