Review: Seoulsonic Showcase at SXSW

Some of my favourite photos of the night ^^
Some of my favourite photos of the night ^^

While there was no major draw like last year’s YB, the Seoulsonic showcase at South by Southwest (SXSW) was a fun show that treated the audience to another great glimpse into the breadth of Korean music. It had a bit more of an electro-rock feel as the latter half of the showcase leaned that way but there was still good variety in the genres and everyone put on a good show. To me, that’s the real value and beauty of the Seoulsonic showcase each year, and this year was no different, as it always highlights the variety of Korean music that’s out there.

My only real disappointment was the size of the audience… it was a little small and I would have wished for more people to be exposed to all the great music. But perhaps that was to be expected with the lack of a headliner. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of great music and I loved the showcase but none of them had YB’s stature (or No Brain’s from Seoulsonic 2014).

Seoulsonic

So who was at the Seoulsonic showcase? Keep reading to find out!

Kim Ban Jang (Windy City) at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016
Kim Ban Jang (Windy City) at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

Kim Ban Jang (Windy City)

It was interesting to see how their music had changed since the last time I saw Windy City. When I saw them in Toronto in 2013, they had more of a reggae feel and vibe but this performance sounded more jazzy soul. Still a compelling beat but a bit different, as was their look.

Guten Birds at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016
Guten Birds at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

Guten Birds

They were one of the bands that I was most looking forward to seeing at SXSW and they didn’t disappoint. I loved their sound and they looked like they were having such a great time on stage. Such a cool vibe with fierce alt-rock, grunge music. They are one of those bands that as soon as they start playing, you’re hooked, so go see them live if you have a chance. Plus the blow-up dolphin hats, so much fun!

We have an interview with them that’s coming soon. ^^

Bye Bye Badman at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016
Bye Bye Badman at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

Bye Bye Badman

After seeing them at the K-pop Night Out showcase earlier in the week, I knew the audience was in for a treat. They have such a great sound and one that would make them an ideal band to crossover into the North American market. I loved this set perhaps a little more than I did their first one because of the more intimate feel of it (the audience was closer to the stage, smaller venue). But seriously, what’s not to love about fun music and so much positive energy on stage? Plus it was fun seeing several members of the audience ask for photos with the band afterwards.

If you want to know more about them, check out our interview with Bye Bye Badman.

WYM at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016
WYM at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

WYM

WYM’s music is mesmerizing, with a sound that just sucks you in, and reminds me a lot of why I used to really love synth-pop and electro-rock music from the 80’s. Complex and fun, it was interesting to see him perform it live with only a drummer for backup. Plus it’s super addicting as his album, After Moon, is one of the ones that I’ve been listening to a lot since the festival.

If you want to know more about him, check out our interview with WYM.

HEO at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016
HEO at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

HEO

I was looking forward to the chance to see HEO again as I loved their performance last year and have been listening to Structure regularly ever since. Their sound is a bit darker and more moody than a lot of electronic or electro-rock music but that’s what makes it so compelling. And of course, they put on another impressive show.

If you want to know more about them, check out our interview with HEO.

Neon Bunny at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016
Neon Bunny at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

Neon Bunny

Neon Bunny was the closing act and her music is perfect for intimate shows with an indie electro-pop vibe that makes me want a glass of wine and a comfy chair so that I can really connect with it. Not that it’s all chill, a lot of the songs she performed would be fun to dance to, but it’s music that seems to just speak to the listener.

We have an interview with her that’s coming soon. ^^

Final Thoughts

As always, Seoulsonic put on a great show with great music all around. Really, there’s not much else to say except to leave you with a few extra photos to enjoy (and if you’d like to see more, check out our Facebook page)! And I definitely recommend checking out all six bands/musicians if you aren’t already familiar with them… like now.

As always, we’d love to know if you were at the Seoulsonic show! And if you were, what did you think?

 

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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