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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)

Wednesday
Mar122014

Los Angeles Times : SXSW 2014 -- A late night of K-pop, pure noise, 50 Cent and Lady Gaga

The band Caught a Ghost performing at Buffalo Billiards in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest festival. (August Brown)

AUSTIN, Texas — The state is known for its stalwart independent streak, but on the first night of music at South by Southwest, Austin was a place for the world to mingle.

From L.A. buzz bands to K-pop superstars and pop-rap titans, Tuesday's late-night lineup proved that, for all the worries that SXSW has become a targeted-marketing snake eating its own hashtagged-and-branded tail, there really isn't a better mile of live music in America than what's happening this week.

Our estimable hometown was well represented Tuesday night. Current Echo residents James Supercave started its set at Empire Control Room with a half-full venue and a meticulous but very slow-burning set of '70s art-pop-laced indie. But by the time the band got around to a more punk-funky and populist portion of the set, Joaquin Pastor's vocals got looser and more invigorating,and the crowds on the street streamed in accordingly. The band doesn't have an obvious standout song yet, but it had charisma and precision in spades, and came out of its set with the room of newcomers thoroughly won over.

The same went for the L.A. neo-R&B combo Caught a Ghost at Buffalo Billiards. There's no shortage of young acts with great suits mining the Stax era for inspiration right now. But Caught a Ghost simply writes better songs than most and plays them with more confidence and camaraderie. The dual-frontperson team of Jesse Nolan and Tessa Thompson traded leads and harmonies with the affectionate chemistry of a '40s screwball comedy couple. While they they're rooted in revivalist timbre of peers such as Nick Waterhouse and Mayer Hawthorne, little electro flourishes and a focus on songwriting substance over era-specific style set them apart (and their debut album "Human Nature" should be a marquee local release of 2014).

We did our level best to make it into the 50 Cent showcase just across the freeway at the 1100 Warehouse in East Austin. While the stutter-step swagger of "I Get Money" sounded reliably rousing from outside, it turns out the mainstream interest in 50 Cent is actually far greater than his recent move off Interscope and to an indie might suggest, and we got stonewalled at the door in a mess of a line. If 50 can actually pull off an indie reinvention, it'll be one of the more inspiring stories of recent rap. To judge by the response outside the warehouse, it sounds like he's off to a decent start of it.

Back across the highway at Elysium, the K-pop Night Out showcase was one of the club-circuit's hotter tickets. Someone who looked an awful lot like Lady Gaga was thronged by an entourage during rapper-singer Jay Park's set (Gaga is set to perform and give a keynote later this week). That's probably no accident, as SXSW has gotten friendlier to pop stars, the hallyu wave has gotten weirder in a way that perfectly coincides with the original missions of the festival — exposing all sorts of progressive new artists from everywhere on Earth.

Park isn't quite the genre-exploding sensation of a peer like G-Dragon, but he capably splits the difference between fizzy K-pop dance cuts and more lascivious, deep-bending modern hip-hop. Park was raised in Seattle but came into K-pop fame as a leader of the boy band 2PM. As a solo artist, his music veers from the nihilistic trap influences suggested by his full torso-tattoos to the pop-trance jams of singles like "I Like 2 Party," which sound incompatible but work together under the crazy umbrella of modern K-pop. He's a gifted MC, and as the genre evolves and figures out its next sonic palette, he's got the chops to take K-pop to new places.

The K-pop singer Hyuna embodies where the music of South Korea is now — a candy-spattered and increasingly progressive strain of pop whose bright harmonies and dance-centric appeal is enough to put Gaga on notice. Hyuna's "Bubble Pop" was an early K-pop favorite, and justifiably — it sports one of teenpop's finest recent choruses in any language. But the very polyglot crowd at her short but packed-out showcase implied that K-pop has crossed the finish line into an established genre in America, and her bemused, sassy and urbane presence should keep her at the forefront of it (even if her set looked like it was almost entirely lip-synced, which is standard protocol for much pop anyway). 

Is there any better band for a 1:20 a.m. set time at Mohawk than L.A.'s Youth Code? Nope. The violent, sinuous industrial duo is at the forefront of a rediscovery of primitive synth music in L.A., but minus the goth goofiness that plagued some of its '90s practitioners. The band is a perfect balance of muscular synth drums, white-noise analog pulses and singer Sara Taylor's defiant shrieks. It's harsh stuff, but never less than riveting to watch, and a perfect rebuttal to a festival that looks ever more like a A-list party than a place to truly hear something new. Thank God Youth Code was there to fix that at the end.

By August Brown


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

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