A more civilized form of moshing
Wearing a white T-shirt with a cartoon motif and his signature goofy smile he said, “Of course festivals like Pentaport [Pentaport Rock Festival, Korea’s biggest annual rock festival, held in Incheon] are great, but people like you and I, who like softer music, who lean toward ‘shalala’ and ‘shabang shabang”’ melodies rather than an aggressive beat, deserve a great festival like this as well.”
If Lee’s analysis is correct, the Grand Mint Festival is unlike any other rock festival in Korea.
“It’s geared toward modern music fans who are into an edgy but sophisticated style of music,” said Kim Dong-gi, head of public relations at DONICE, the organizer of the event. “It’s for people in their 20s and 30s who appreciate modern design aesthetics, like photography, and who like CDs more than MP3s.”
This apparently was the perspective of the musicians as well as the audience.
In an interview, Mongu, of the Korean modern rock group Mongoose (who started Saturday’s festival at 11 a.m. with an hour-long concert) stated: “We’ve never cried over a 3,000 won dish of jjajangmyeon [Chinese noodles] like hungry artists struggling to make an album. I think we’re past the age where bandmates get together and rehearse all day, live and die for concerts and so on. It’s more about the style of music and the aesthetic you want to get across to the audience.”
The festival stems from a number of smaller Mint Festa events started in 2006 by Mint Paper, a community group that supports the “modern approach” to music.
Drawing on close associations with Korean indie labels like Cavare Sounds, Beatball, Lollipop Music and Pastel Music, the group launched the Grand Mint Festival last weekend, and hopes to make it an annual event.
This year’s line up is a mix of small but steadfast names from the indie scene in and outside of Korea.
Local indie musicians including Linus’ Blanket, Windy City, Peppertones and Omega 3 were featured alongside popular foreign acts such as Japan’s Paris Match, French group Tahito 80 and Space Kelly from Germany.
Korean pop/ballad stars from the ’90s including Yun Sang and Lee Seung-hwan performed as well.
The setting, Olympic Park, fit the festival’s concept like a well-tailored suit, as the clean, spacious atmosphere, with a lake, a roller-skating plaza, convenience stores and a large picnic area successfully accommodated the breezy fall melodies coming from the stages.
Holding a can of convenience store beer and a cigarette, Kim Jeong-a, with her electric blue leather jacket said, “I can’t believe how psyched people got from the Tahiti 80 concert. I thought I would never see a Tahiti 80 fan in Korea but maybe I underestimated the music scene in Korea.”
Besides the three main concert stages, there were the appropriately matched side- bar events, like the “Beauty Salon,” in which visitors could get their hair and nails done during breaks in the music. There was also a live radio booth from which participating musicians ran a festival radio station, selecting tracks to play throughout the park and interact with the audience.
By Cho Jae-eun Staff Writer