Saturday, March 22, 2014

SXSW Day 1 - K-Pop Night Out

What do I say about SXSW? (Or Southby, as veteran attendees call it.) It was exciting, overwhelming, terrifying, and simply amazing. The entire week was filled with spectacular performances (and, even some horrible ones.) It was a time to revel in music, and all that it encompasses. And it did not disappoint.

Day 1 - March 11, 2014

I arrived in Austin (for the first time, mind you) around noon on day one of the official start to the festival. After depositing my belongings at my accommodations, I hustled it downtown to pick up my wristband, and to get my camera tagged. From there, I had just about an hour before I wanted to head to the venue and check out the line, so I snagged some grub at the South Bites food truck arena, and headed on over the the Elysium.

The line to get into the venue for K-Pop Night Out was already pretty long. I arrived around 4:45 and it was already stretched to the corner and was snaking it's way around. Many people stopped to ask what we were all in line for, and most folks passed us on by. They didn't know what they were missing out on.

When I discussed with people around me in line who they were there to see, it was mostly Jay Park & Hyuna. I think that most of them hadn't even heard of the bands that were playing that night. So I took the opportunity to spread the K-Rock gospel. At least in my little corner of the line, I was getting everyone pumped up to see the rest of the bands. By some coincidence I managed to spot Big Phony standing in the street and got to chat to him for a minute. Then he invited me inside to watch sound check with the bands.
First performance of the night was Jambinai. I have to say, that while I love their initial album release, Differance, it simply does NOT do them justice. While performing live Jambinai is a storm of musical emotion that crashes upon you with such force you're left with nothing left to do but stand in awe.

Up next was fan-favorites, Nell.  They had the worst of the technical issues for the evening, clearly frustrating lead singer Jong-Wan Kim. While personally I've never been a big fan of theirs (their music is usually too mellow for me) I thought they jammed the heck out of the stage during their last song. I found myself pleasantly surprised by them, and am now cemented as a Nell fan. (At least of their live performances.) 
Following Nell was Hollow Jan. They guys of Hollow Jan weren't originally scheduled to perform at K-Pop Night Out, but as you may have heard, many of the bands had visa issues on their way over, and Kiha & The Faces weren't able to make it to the States at all. So, lucky for everyone at the Elysium, Hollow Jan stepped in to take their place. And boy, did they do a great job. The power and emotion that Hollow Jan present on stage are second to none, and the audience didn't know what hit them. While I did see some of the obvious K-Pop fans hiding in corners with their ears plugged, I also saw lots of people enthusiastically enjoying their performance. Hollow Jan was the only band that night to get a request for an encore as well.

Crying Nut were the next band hit up the stage. They are absolutely kinetic on stage. All of the members look happy to be there, and are genuinely enjoying their time on the stage. It's great to see a band that's been together and performing as long as they have still get joy from performing.
By this time in the evening I was personally starting to crumble a bit. I did make it through the Idiotape performance, but clearly forgot to take pictures. Not to mention, I'd left the main floor to escape the crazy heat of the crowd and the building itself. I bought some band merch, and decided that since I'd seen Jay Park and Hyuna perform nearly their entire acts in soundcheck that I would take my exhausted self back to my bed & breakfast and crash for the night.

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