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Wednesday
Jan142015

Billboard Magazine : Epik High, Crayon Pop Headline SXSW 2015's K-Pop Night Out


Epik High / Courtesy of YG Entertainment
After a Lady Gaga appearance at last year's show, the Korean music night returns with Hitchhiker, The Barberettes, Eastern Sidekick & more.

K-Pop Night Out returns to SXSW for what looks to be its bigger year after gaining big attention since its inaugural showcase in 2013. Acts like Epik High, Crayon Pop, Hitchhiker and more top Korean talent make up the impressive bill.



Epik High come to Austin after a fantastic comeback in 2014. After more than two years of silence, the hip-hop trio fired back with their excellent Shoebox album -- highlighted as one of Billboard's best releases of 2014 -- which earned the band their first No. 1 on the World Albums chart. Made up of Tablo, Mithra and DJ Tukutz, the veteran rap act has more than a decade together and will hit SXSW for their first Stateside show in years.



Another act making international waves, Crayon Pop also headlines the show. The quirky "Bar Bar Bar" girl group returns to America after spending their summer opening for Lady Gaga's Artpop tour. The group has stayed somewhat quiet since the trek, but members ChoA and Way did team up to release a new track "OK."

K-Pop Night Out should get a little more experimental this year thanks to Hitchhiker. The eccentric producer and remixer (who is signed alongside Girls' Generation, EXO and f(x) to SM Entertainment) had fans scratching and bobbing their heads to his "11" video earlier this year. K-Pop Night Out 2015 marks Hitchhiker's debut live performance.

Alongside the acts comes throwback-inspired female trio The Barberettes, the performance-art/electro-pop duo EE with the Korean rock scene represented by critically acclaimed indie rock band Eastern Sidekick and heavy rock outfit Asian Chairshot.

Last year's showcase was headlined by HyunA, Jay Park and Nell and saw Lady Gaga in attendance during her much talked about performance and keynote address.

K-Pop Night Out 2015 takes place on Thursday, March 19, at Elysium (705 Red River).

By Jeff Benjamin


2015 KOCCA KPop Night Out Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotions) : DFSB Kollective x SL Communications
International Distribution : DFSB Kollective (EE/Eastern Sidekick)

Wednesday
Jan072015

SXSW.com/Music : K-Pop Night Out Showcase Returns for Third Year at SXSW


Photos, clockwise from top left: Epik High, Hitchhiker, EE and Crayon Pop. All photos courtesy of the artists.

The annual KOCCA presented K-Pop Night Out returns for its third year at SXSW. The showcase will take place on Thursday, March 19 at Elysium (705 Red River).

This March, Hitchhiker, Epik High, Crayon Pop, The Barberettes, Asian Chairshot, EE and Eastern Sidekick will make the trip from Seoul. Once again, you’ll find your perception of Korean music challenged with the most engaging KPNO lineup yet.

Until recently, Choi Jin-woo was known as one of K-Pop’s top hit-makers as a producer, songwriter and remixer for Korean superstars such as Girl’s Generation, G-Dragon, EXO and SXSW alumni act f(x). Now the tables have turned with his new project Hitchhiker, a worldwide YouTube phenomena that’s thrust him into the spotlight with the amazingly bizarre “11” video and its accompanying polarizing earworm of a track. Seriously, just watch it. This will be Hitchhiker’s debut live performance.

Seoul’s Epik High are often credited as bringing hip-hop to the mainstream in Korea, and will be making their first SXSW appearance, supporting their eighth album, Shoebox, while K-Pop girl group Crayon Pop return to the US with their signature helmets and “Bar Bar Bar” dance in tow after touring with Lady Gaga on her Artpop tour.

The Barberettes, perhaps the most surprising of the bunch, create a time-warp of '50s and '60s girl group harmonies with a dedicated nod to The Shirelles, The Ronettes and The Kim Sisters.

Part performance troupe, part art collective, EE is a blur of eccentricity that comes across as a Korean hip-hop inspired version of The Knife, if you can imagine such a thing.

As always, Korean underground rock plays an important part of a K-Pop Night Out showcase. Asian Chairshot find common ground between Black Sabbath, Soundgarden and Radiohead with their Jeff Schroeder (Smashing Pumpkins) produced LP, while Eastern Sidekick come across as an edgier Korean version of The Strokes.

Don't miss the third annual K-Pop Night Out showcase at SXSW Music! Badges and hotel rooms are still available. Schedule is subject to change.

By James Minor

2015 KOCCA KPop Night Out Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotions) : DFSB Kollective x SL Communications
International Distribution : DFSB Kollective (EE/Eastern Sidekick)


Sunday
Mar162014

The Huffington Post : SXSW Transcends Tragedy With Music

SXSW 2014 will forever be marked by tragedy -- the senseless deaths of two festival goers and 23 injured by a drunk driver now facing the death penalty won't soon be forgotten, nor will Tyler the Creator's arrest for inciting a riot.

But the silver lining surrounding that dark cloud was that so much astounding music was still there to be found throughout the 28th annual music festival in Austin, Texas.

South by Southwest may have been occupied by crass corporate brands and drunken spring breakers -- a couple hundred thousand people descend on Austin, though only 20,000 are SXSW delegates -- but there were also about 2,300 musical acts from every conceivable genre playing at every conceivable space.

And what other festival could be highlighted by local legend Willie Nelson, transgender punk Laura Jane Grace's group Against Me!, a Gorillaz reunion, and Blondie covering the Beastie Boys?

Nelson's impressive performance Saturday night was hardly surprising -- there's a reason that the ACL Live at the Moody Theatre venue, where iTunes was staging its side-festival during SXSW, is on Willie Nelson Blvd and boasts a statue of the country icon.

But never having seen him live before, Nelson's incorporation of blues and jazz into his old-world country proved inspiring, as was his inclusion of my favourite song "Me and Paul" since he has hundreds of potential tracks to choose from. He even played "Crazy" (which he wrote but is most famous for the Patsy Cline version) and then solo'd his popular Toby Keith duet "Beer for my Horses."

His only official special guest was Lily Meola, a young woman with an old voice, who lent her smoky croon to their duet "Will You Remember Mine." The 80-year-old also let his son Lukas take lead on the Stevie Ray Vaughn tune, "Texas Flood." The younger Nelson ably proved his father's selection was no act of nepotism, delivering blistering electric blues guitar work and solidly-gruff vocals that brought the crowd to its feet in the middle of the song.

Nelson the elder then introduced a "new gospel tune" called, "Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die," which inspired the festival's most amusing sing-along.

That is, not counting when Blondie diverged from their own classics -- and pretty great new songs -- to play the Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" which saw the crowd at Rachael Ray's insanely popular Feedback party (people began lining up at 3 a.m.) pumping their fists, while rapping along with Debbie Harry.

Against Me! delivered another standout performance while playing Spin's annual Friday afternoon party the previous day, at Stubbs. The longstanding punk group released the year's best and boldest album "Transgender Dysmorphia Blues," a politics-is-personal collection inspired by lead singer Laura Jane Grace's experience.

Against Me! have played SXSW before, but this was Grace's first chance to do so as her true self. Her joy was infectious throughout the loud, melodic set as the band dropped old gems like "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" and new soon-to-be-classics like "True Trans Soul Rebel."

Later that evening, Britpop icon Damon Albarn (of Blur fame) held court at the Fader Fort, where he performed a number of solid if sleepy songs from his forthcoming new album, "Everyday Robots."

Some in the crowd, drunk off too many free beers, filtered out, which meant they missed Albarn's special guests. First, he brought out hip-hop legends De La Soul to perform their Gorillaz collab "Feel Good Inc." to the remaining crowd's unbridled excitement. Then, he further upped the ante by bringing out his Gorillaz mates, Dan the Automator and Del the Funkee Homosapien, for the first-ever proper live performance of their smash, "Clint Eastwood." In case that was not enough, Snoop Dogg came out to seal the deal with a bonus verse.

Of course, SXSW was originally a showcase for emerging bands, and plenty of those were in attendance, too.

Eagulls delivered a terrifyingly loud and intense set that aurally encapsulated up SXSW's decadent overstimulation as well as this year's darkness. English electro-soul singer Sohn, signed to 4AD and prepping his debut full-length "Tremors" for an April release, mixed cutting-edge electronics with timeless vocal prowess, an emotional falsetto and songwriting that has him poised for international success. Similarly poised is Toronto's Lowell, who played an AOL party earlier in the week at the Mohawk during the festival's interactive stream. The Arts & Crafts-signed artist's songs may not be all there quite yet, but she's got her indie pop sound down and her live show has become rather electrifying.

Jay Park @ 2014 SXSW KPop Night Out

Even more electrifying was the K-Pop showcase, which featured arena-size Korean superstars in tiny Austin venue Elysium, much to the delight of the genre's American fan base who went wild for the hard-edged EDM of Idiotape, the Justin Bieber-esque R&B of Jay Park, who also proved himself a capable rapper, and HyunA, a Britney Spears-type pop star who somehow crammed a raft of backup dancers onto the small stage.

Schoolboy Q, part of Kendrick Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment crew, followed up his recent and unexpected number one album a series of performances -- he played the Spin party, iTunes Festival and a bunch of other gigs and surprise appearances -- that proved he really has graduated to the big time.

SZA, a 23-year-old avant-R&B singer also affiliated with Top Dawg, delivered a sombre set that was impressive no matter how out of place it was at the Vice/AT&T party earlier in the week. (But no biggie, as DJ Shadow later amped the crowd, which at one point included Lady Gaga, right back up).

Speaking of Gaga, this year's SXSW keynote speaker delivered the year's most talked-about performance, for good or ill. Putting together a special set purpose-built for Austin, she emerged on a BBQ spit and performed in front of a neon Lady Gaga's BBQ Haus of Swine sign. Relegating her singles to the end of the show -- only including "Bad Romance" and new track "Applause" -- she focused on new songs from her underperforming latest album "ARTPOP."

The set itself left a lot to be desired but all that anyone will remember is that during the song swine, performance artist Millie Brown, known as a vomit painter, chugged a bottle of green liquid and then puked it all over Gaga as the two scissored on a mechanical bull.

Hopefully the same won't be true for SXSW itself this year, which may have suffered a singular tragedy but also transcended it with music.

By Joshua Ostroff (Senior Editor of The Huffington Post Canada)


2014 KOCCA KPop Night Out Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotions) : DFSB Kollective x SK Planet/SL Communications
International Distribution : DFSB Kollective (Jay Park)


Wednesday
Mar122014

The Huffington Post : SXSW Lady Gaga Does K-Pop, Coldplay Does iTunes, Bieber Doesn't Leave

SXSW was once known as indie-rock spring break. It's still spring break, but it doesn't feel so indie. At least not on the first night of the 28th edition of Austin, Texas' sprawling South by Southwest festival.

Though the inteGaga does K-Popractive and film streams of the festival had been going strong since last Friday, attracting everyone from Edward Snowden and Seth Rogan to Chelsea Clinton and George Takei, SXSW's original raison d'etre, music, finally erupted in full on Tuesday.

In fact, even the last major Interactive speaker was Neil Young, talking about his new high-res music player and digital store, Pono.

Lady Gaga, who will be SXSW's keynote speaker as well as performing at a small (for her) show on Thursday night, made an appearance at a packed K-Pop showcase, and stayed for a couple hours, even going to the bar to fetch her own drinks.

Perhaps she felt comfortable because, unlike her previous night's appearance at a Vice/AT&T party, she wasn't surrounded by incessant selfie-takers. Where else could Gaga have gone, anyway, where she wasn't the star attraction?

K-Pop may be a niche here in North America, Psy aside, but these acts are arena-filled back in Korea and the crowd was way more star-struck by the likes of mega pop star HyunA, EDM badasses Idiotape and Jay Park, who is basically the Korean Bieber but a way better rapper. (He even got shirtless by the end of his much-shrieked set.)

HyunA @ 2014 SXSW KPop Night Out

Oh, and the Canadian Bieber was still around, too, lighting up twitter as he showed up at Media Temple's SXSW Interactive closing party celebrating Def Jam's 30th anniversary, alongside Kanye and Jay-Z. The latter two are playing their own small show tonight, while Kanye will doing an even smaller solo gig on Friday. You can thank Samsung and Yahoo, respectively, for those. And Doritos for bringing in Gaga.

Oh, and iTunes for bringing in Coldplay. (In fact, the iTunes side-festival will be going all week, bringing in everyone from Kendrick Lamar and Soundgarden to, ugh, Pitbull and, yay, Willie Nelson.) Chris Martin and company made some news by playing two new songs from their upcoming album "Ghost Stories" -- "Always In My Head" and "Another's Arms."

Yep, the superstars are sucking up most of the oxygen so far, but the festival has five more days to go and plenty of time for breakouts. After all, barely anyone knew Icona Pop and Haim when they first played here last year and that worked out pretty well even with Justin Timberlake and Green Day holding court.

By Joshua Ostraff (Senior Editor of The Huffington Post Canada)


2014 KOCCA KPop Night Out Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotions) : DFSB Kollective x SK Planet/SL Communications
International Distribution : DFSB Kollective (Jay Park)




Wednesday
Mar122014

Austin360 : SXSW: K-Pop Night Out thrills diverse capacity crowd



K-Pop fans, including Jackie Sue Guana, center with purple hair, filled Elysium to capacity on Tuesday night. (Photo by Erin J. Walter)
South by Southwest's annual K-Pop night filled to capacity from the start—and for good reason. Fans of Korean pop and rock music wait for this night all year.

As the line in front of Elysium stretched past the club, four-piece band NELL unleashed swirling rock to cheers of a young, diverse but predominantly Asian-American crowd. The group's last song bore a striking resemblance to Faith No More's "Epic," sans vocals, and indeed, ended NELL's set on an epic note, with fans screaming for guitar picks and sprays of water.

Hollow Jan followed, hailed as Korea's "one and only screamo band." Some members of the audience spoke and understood Korean, responding to the performers stage banter, but even those with a language barrier had no trouble experiencing the emotions of the music.

"It's universal," said Jackie Sue Guana, 26, of Austin. "The K-Pop community is growing — it's awesome."

Guana DJs an occasional K-Pop night at Elysium and attended the SXSW showcase with regulars and friends from a local K-Pop DJ collective Demographics, which she helped start after struggling to find K-Pop in Austin clubs.

"We call it Demographics for a reason," she said. "It's not just Koreans. I'm Hispanic. It's very diverse—K-Pop is for everybody."

Many fans said they were most excited to see the night's final two performers, Jay Park and HyunA, who were going on early Wednesday. The line was still one-out, one-in on Red River as Jay Park prepared to take the stage at 12:30 a.m.

"K-Pop music is very different from American pop," Guana said. "There's the cultural aspect. You may not understand the language but you're learning something new. The fashions are cute, of course, but it's all just so fun and uplifting. It makes you happy."

In the wee hours Wednesday, Twitter was abuzz that American pop star and SXSW keynote speaker Lady Gaga had been in the audience for the K-Pop headliners.

By Erin J. Walter


2014 KOCCA KPop Night Out Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotions) : DFSB Kollective x SK Planet/SL Communications
International Distribution : DFSB Kollective (Jay Park)