Category Archives: music

No Nukes 2012

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The No Nukes festival was initiated by Ryuichi Sakamoto and called for a ban of nuclear power plants and weapons. He assembled many fellow artists such as Asian Kung-Fu Generation, the Hiatus and Kraftwerk for a two-day festival held at Makuhari Messe.

For me, the performances of Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) and Kraftwerk were the main reason to pay 6800 Yen for a one-day pass. Kraftwerk only played on the first day.

Unlike most of the Summer festivals, Nu Nukes was located conveniently for Tokyoites. Getting to and back from Makuhari Messe on the same day is no problem. The downside is that trade fair halls are not great concert locations. Read the rest of this entry

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Tsukuda Bon Odori – Folk Dance

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This is one of those smaller folk dancing festivals, even though it is recommended by the Japan National Tourism Organization. Tsukuda Bon Odori was held from July 13 to July 15 in Tsukuda, Chuo-ku near the Tsukudakobashi Bridge. The square is about a ten minute walk from Tsukishima Station (Oedo or Yurakucho Line) but finding it was not easy. I’ve never been to that festival or the area before so I expected a somewhat bigger, more public square.

Instead, this festival has more of a neighborhood feel to it. Music was played from 8 to 9:30 each day. The music is highly repetitive, but that works in favor for those who haven’t practiced before. Many obon festivals I’ve been to encourage people to join. While there were many dressed for the occasion in Yukata and sandals, others were wearing casual Western clothes.

The stage was simple. Larger festivals usually have a bigger tower for the musicians as well as some dancers who know all the proper moves. Read the rest of this entry

Seoul Drum Festival 2011: Drum Cat, Nanta & more

Seoul Drum Festival: Drum Cat
For some reasons, major festivals seem to be concentrated on very few weekends in Seoul. This weekend, there was the Seoul Drum Festival, the YonKo Games and some expat festival. The latter supposedly featured 10000 foreigners which was reason enough for me not to go there as the foreigner who’s looking at me whenever I look into the mirror in the morning is already scary enough.

Drum festival

The main outdoor performance of the Seoul Drum Festival was held at Seoul Plaza opposite Deoksugung Palace. It’s a festival where they expect foreigners, so all announcements are in Korean and English. No chairs, but plastic sheets were prepared. All those who wanted to take photos or record video simply went further to the front and sat on the lawn. Next time I would probably bring a tripod and a zoom lens to get some good close-ups.

The website for the event is sluggish like most Korean websites. The event is free. I only went there on Friday and arrived there at about 7pm. Most places on the plastic sheets were already taken by then.

Honestly, I went there mainly because I wanted to see a group of cats. Read the rest of this entry

[Korea] Traditional Korean Fan Dance (부채춤)

Traditional Korean fan dance at the Namsangol Hanok Village, shortly before the Taekwondo performance started. Namsangol is a place where lots of cultural experience programs are offered, I took a short Taekwondo lesson there.

[Korea] Sinchon Festival

At least the big universities in Korea have one big festival each year where they would spend an awful lot of money to invite famous Korean pop stars such as 4minute and SNSD. Yonsei’s big festival is Akaraka. These festivals are usually exclusive to students, I heard that even the exchange students at Yonsei have a hard time getting tickets (the number of tickets is limited). KLI students – no chance, we have our own festival.

In an effort to reach out to the people living around the universities, the Sinchon Festival was organized. Sinchon is the area where Yonsei, Ewha, Hoingik and Sogang University are located. For the festival, almost the whole street from Sinchon Station to Yonsei University was blocked for car traffic.

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Performances were held on three stages. The bands were independent artists, a few days later I saw one of the bands on the list of a music festival. The universities were presenting themselves and the work of students at various booths between the stages.

The bands were quite good I think, but I was surprised that relatively few people were visiting the festival.

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[Korea] Street musicians in Hongdae

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Hongdae is not only full of bars, clubs and unusual coffee shops (don’t stick to Starbucks if you go there) but is also popular with street musicians. These two guys quickly attracted a crowd around them, they were great singers and even better performers.

[Korea] Grand Mint Festival (Day 2)

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I started into day 2 of the festival a bit later by watching indie artist Thomas Cook (토마스 쿡) on the Mint Breeze Stage. That stage felt awfully big for his sparse live show however, and he was accompanied only by one other Guitar player. The more intimate Loving Forest Garden stage with its Coliseum like style would’ve been more appropriate.

Outside I listened to 파티스트릿 (Party Street). As I wrote in the entry about day 1, the “Busking in the Park” stage was in the area between the venues and accessible without a ticket. The group had some technical problems but quite an international audience (three non-Koreans at least ;)). The singer, spotting two of them, greeted them with “Hello! Korea is beautiful!”.

Every venue has a list of maximum visitors and is closed if the limit has been reached. I had no problems watching the headliners of day one on the big outside stage and in the hall. On the second day, I wanted to see the third big stage called “Loving Forest Garden”. There was a long queue at the entrance and people were only let in if others moved out. 한희정 (Han Hee Jung) was playing, a cute female singer. Read the rest of this entry

[Korea] Grand Mint Festival (Day 1)

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The Grand Mint Festival was held on October 23 and 24 and was organized by a company called Mint Paper. I always wanted to visit a music festival, but they usually can’t be conveniently accessed by public transported. However, the GMF was located in Olympic Park in south-east Seoul, meaning that you don’t actually have to camp on the site if you live in Seoul (I’m not even sure if camping was even allowed). The GMF is an alternative festival showing all kinds of music genres from electro to classic without featuring mainstream pop, i.e. no Girl’s Generation, 2PM, 2AM, 4.30PM or 11AM there. Instead you get artists like Clazziquai, Kim Yuna, Lee Sora or Teenage Fanclub.

While ordering anything in Korea online can be quite a mess, requiring you to struggle through hundreds of blinking Flash movies and Active-X controls which are supposed to guarantee security (even though the technology is infamous for being quite the opposite), ordering tickets for the GMF was no problem. Interpark has a special site in English language which offers various tickets. The site is not as extensive as the Korean one yet, but you can just pay normally with a credit card. I had to exchange the ticket number at the venue 30 minutes before the first show.

There were five stages, four outside and one inside: Mint Breeze Stage, Club Midnight Sunset (hall), Soup Loving Forest Garden, Blossom House and Busking in the Park. The latter one was accessible even without a ticket. There were food stands as well, though I found the selection to be a bit lack. You can buy snacks, drinks etc. at one of the convenience stores on the site.

Naru (나루) were opening the festival at 12:50 pm at Mint Breeze Stage. Read the rest of this entry

Yokohama Night Impressions

After visiting the iPhone Case Exihibition in the Red Brick Warehouses I took some time to record night impressions of Yokohama. This has been the second city I visited when I first came to Japan.

Clazziquai in Tokyo

Clazziquai in Tokyo
Clazziquai is one of my favorite bands from South Korea. They combine various music genres into their music, from Electronica to Acid Jazz. DJ Clazzi is the master mind behind the band, he is the composer and producer of the songs.

The group has two vocalists, Horan and Alex. They both have good voices and sound great together.

As usual, I bought my ticket via the ATM at Lawson’s convenience store. The concert was held at Akasaka BLITZ near Akasakamitsuke Station.

Male vocalist Alex grew up in Canada, so his English is excellent. The group has both English and Korean songs, some songs exist in only one language, others in both. The group doesn’t have any Japanese songs.

Neither Alex nor Horan knew how many Koreans are in the audience. To me, they seemed to be indecisive which language to use. They sometimes made jokes (in Korean), then addressing their fans (in English) and Alex occasionally mumbled a few words in Japanese (あついですね: It’s hot, isn’t it?). It was funny to see how only parts of the audience would get the things said in their language, while the other ones where wondering “What did he just said?”.

In fact, the Japanese girls next to me said something like that quite often.

During the first half of the concert, they tried to sing only English language songs, which I didn’t know very well. Performed live, even the songs I don’t like very much sound great (Tell Yourself) especially with the added video projections.
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