buttonGrand Mint Festival @ Olympic Park, Seoul (17th - 19th Oct. ’08)

Way Life Through Abnormal Thing

Grand Mint Festival
      From big chained rocks to dragonflies doing it, Olympic Park's Grand Mint Festival was a fun-filled weekend with surprises throughout. The setting is prime for a large number of people to congregate. Olympic Park, built back in 1988 especially for Seoul, South Korea's hosting of the games, has since become a well-used venue for festivals, music and recreation of all kinds.

Yo La Tengo      This year's Grand Mint Festival boasted an unusual headliner for Saturday night. Yo La Tengo, with their 20 minute freak out bass pumping jams and melancholic ballad-esque drives did not however disappoint. The crowd, whether or not they had ever heard of Yo La Tengo before, was definitely into it. Ira dispersed a careless disregard while soloing non-stop for huge stretches, Georgia steadily beating, and the crowd, hopped up on soju, just hopped on the growing conga line bouncing around the grassy audience. It may have been better to end with them on a Sunday evening, after three long days of festivaling, however for the serving of Grand Mint's eclectic musical ear buffet, it was just desserts. After all, just before Yo La Tengo was an energetic circus act/acoustic guitar superwoman show by Korean band Jaurim diversity abounds! Besides, Olympic Park officials won't let the noise happen past 11pm…time to wind down kids.

Grand Mint Festival      Speaking of the young-ins, passing the time for kids meant a joyful jaunt to the jumping place, a perfectly placed trampoline in between the churros stand, the cupcake ladies and the main stage. Over 140cm not allowed, sorry to all the big kids in the crowd.

      The cuisine was adequate and filling, without being too overpriced. Bennigan's and a few local eateries, along with the cupcake stand kept everyone's tummy's minty fresh for dancing all-day.

      Blankets of friends surrounded by 2-litre Cass beer bottles and the Korean archetypal green soju evidenced of security's disinterest in keeping the vendors’ investment solid while hardly quarantining the crowd to a land of high prices. I'm sure the festival-goers appreciated their right to exercise cheap drinking habits, and the lines still seemed to be long enough at the drink vendors’ tent anyway.

Grand Mint Festival      One interesting find in tent row was the Festival Generation people. Justine Kim, a free-lancing journalist was there to chit-chat about the many classic pictures of Glastonbury and Fuji Rock decorating their space. Apparently she and a few other Koreans formed an unofficial alliance, attending and tracking festivals from abroad over the last ten years. Koreans however have only begun to experience the music festival setting with three years of Pentaport and the Jaraseum Jazz Fest. The huge turnouts and happy faces though tell more to come in Korea would be much appreciated. You can check out their work online, including samples from their first published work, aptly titled Festival Generation. Their tent blew fest sponsor Kosney out of the water in my opinion, although Kosney's bear-ear blanket ponchos and picture op with a stuffed deer did attract outer limit stragglers into the dusky hours of night…

      The stage differentiation was a treat for this fest, too. Not only did the organizers utilize a huge swath of grass for the main Mint Breeze stage, they roped off a sunken stage backed by a beautiful pond for the more jazzy, reggae, world acts to serenade mostly sitting crowds of spectators. The fountain was even lit at night and fake palm trees added to the outdoor adventure at this Loving Forest stage. Thankfully it didn't rain and the sun was cloaked in comfortable clouds for the better half of the afternoon sessions, thus making the temperatures ideal for this weekend-long shindig.

Grand Mint Festival      The small tent christened the cheerful Blossom House, housed the more intimate shows, wherein were two of my favorite acts of the fest. Loro's, a Korean Sigur Ros counterpart, and Starry Eyed, a solid indie/hint-o-emo jam outfit filled the space with bobbing heads, pumping fists, and at times closed eyes of serenity; when the big stages massive tarped speaker stacks weren't blaring up the hill and into Loro's cello solo.

      In a nutshell, or a case of mints, whatever, the festival was a well-spent weekend. If there was ever a downtime with no interesting bands to see or foods to eat, we were always just a few hundred meters to a space to freely toss the Frisbee or frolic amidst the unassuming park-goers outside the gates, giving our ears a break from the noise, but never our senses from the super sweetness all around us. Korea in the fall really is a beautiful sight to behold. All the better time to catch some beautiful tunes in the park…

Grand Mint Festival

report by J Muzacz and photos by J Muzacz & shawn

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buttonMag files : Grand Mint Festival

buttonDay Three - Still More Minty Goodness To Be Had (08/10/19 @ Olympic Park, Seoul) : review & photos by shawn
buttonWay Life Through Abnormal Thing (08/10/17 to 19 @ Olympic Park, Seoul) : review by J Muzacz, photos by J Muzacz & shawn

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