Friday, March 14, 2014

SXSW: Notes from Hollow Jan and YB Showcases

On the Korean's Day 2 at SXSW, there was another Korean artists showcase at the University of Texas. A Korean music mixer happened during the day, in which No Brain and Glen Check performed. Jambinai appeared at the International Day Stage, and was extremely well received. (Apparently, Sean Lennon is a new fan.)

But the Korean was at none of those. Given the marathon of Day 1, during which I flew from D.C., attended six hours of concert and interviewed a band, the Korean decided to take it a bit easier on Day 2 concerts. My nap was phenomenal, however. Better than any concert I have ever been to. Seriously, you should have been there.

Later in the night, I went back to downtown Austin to watch the performances by Hollow Jan and YB.

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For Hollow Jan, every gig is a tough gig because their music is so far out of the mainstream. But even by their standards, this venue did not look promising. The venue was lounge split into two levels, and the sound traveled liberally between the two floors. Also, the downstairs was clearly more happening than the upstairs. 

The space was small, the audience even smaller. Moments before Hollow Jan came on, barely ten people were in the venue. The audience did grow into approximately 20 people, with about three or four enthusiastic head-bangers in front.

None of this deterred Hollow Jan, of course. Although all rock bands exude energy, the way Hollow Jan explodes every night is absolutely incredible. Vocal Im Hwan-taek [임환택] prefers to perform barefoot, which accentuates his beastly scream. The small audience was impressed. A long haired Australian fellow, who was one of the headbangers, raved about how much he loved Hollow Jan. I bought him a drink.

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YB's showcase was at the bar next door. It was a solid-sized venue with a fairly large stage. Sadly, this is the only performance by YB at Austin, as he did not join the K-Pop Night Out, Seoulsonic or other Korea-themed concerts. 

The crowd tops out at around 100. Much of the crowd was Koreans who specifically came out to see YB. Performing in front of the audience that was ready to love them, YB puts on a good show. YB opened with Cigarette Girl, the title song for YB's upcoming English language album. It appeared that YB was test-driving their English language songs. Other folks may have a different opinion, but to me, the effect was slightly deflating. But YB ends with my personal favorite Flying Butterfly, and all is well. Another successful night at SXSW.

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