Se7en launches K-pop concert venueOver the weekend, singer Se7en (pronounced Seven) performed live in Seoul in front of about 2,000 screaming young fans.
The performance this time was not at another steamy, uncomfortable concert hall in Jamsil Stadium or Olympic Park. Instead of the usual dingy sports arena where Korean pop stars normally end up performing, Se7en’s was the first show on a new concert stage opened exclusively for live pop performances.
Dubbed Seoul-AX, the city’s first K-pop concert hall opened last Friday.
“We plan to build such K-pop exclusive concert halls in every major city by 2010,” said Cho Sung-jin, director of ENT Global, the domestic builder and one of the investors in the new venue in Gwangjang-dong, eastern Seoul.
Seoul-AX is modeled on Shibuya-AX, a high-quality music hall that opened in Tokyo’s hip Shibuya district six years ago.
Mr. Cho said ENT Global wanted to provide Seoul with a venue that had ideal acoustics for musical performances at a “reasonable price,” just as in Tokyo.
If singers and their agencies can be provided with a concert hall completely furnished technically for pop concerts, he said, the price of tickets does not have to be so high.
While most classic performances are held at the high-end Seoul Arts Center or the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, such a specialized venue was not previously available for pop singers.
Most K-pop concerts were held in sports arenas, which are not equipped with the right light and sound systems for live concerts. Therefore, the artist’s agency had to provide suitable systems for each concert and ticket-buyers bore the extra expense, one reason ticket prices for pop concerts have leapt.
“We want to eventually lower ticket prices to 20,000 won ($21) when we have a stable system going,” Mr. Cho said.
He explained that in Shibuya, tickets are less than the equivalent of 40,000 won, a modest price compared to the usual cost in Korea.
Tickets for the Se7en concert over the weekend, however, were still high at 66,000 won.
However, the sound quality and visibility at the Seoul-AX showed significant improvement over that at sports arenas. The stage is very close to the audience and pillars on the first floor are cushioned with soft materials.
There is a space devoted to people in wheelchairs as well.
Korean R&B diva Gummy will sing at Seoul-AX this weekend to continue the opening celebration.
The YG Family will hold a hip-hop party on June 17 and rap trio DJ DOC will give a midnight concert on June 23.
On July 14 and 15, the venue will host a “Hot Live & Cool Party,” featuring the country’s top underground bands of varying genres, including Clazziquai, Loveholic and My Aunt Mary.
On July 22 and 23, punk rock bands Crying Nut and Deli Spice will perform, respectively.
On July 29, N.EX.T, a charismatic six-man rock band led by Shin Hae-chul, will stage the finale of the two-month-long event.
For more information, call, (02) 540-3567.
by Lee Min-a
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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