Grand Mint Festival @ Olympic Park, Seoul (17th - 19th Oct. ’08)
Way Life Through Abnormal Thing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Rock And Roll All Nite : Judas Priest (21st Sept. @ Olympic Gymnasium, Seoul)
Better Late... : Envy, Bulssazo (18th Jul. @ Rolling Hall, Seoul)
Clubbin' It By The River : Cocore, Kyoto Jazz Massive, and Hollow Jan in Next Floor 08 (28th Jun. @ Hangang Park, Seoul)
Music Is A Universal Language : Tenniscoats with Vidulgi Ooyoo (7th Jun. @ Liveclub Ssam, Seoul)
This Is Music : Love Camp 2008 feat. Oriental Lucy, The Plastic Day, Sagitta, Yukie Sato and more (31st May. @ in Hong Chon, Kangwon-do, Korea)
Fuck Being Rock Stars : Bulssazo (24th May. @ Bowie, Seoul)
Rocking Out In Style : The Moonshiners (16th May. @ 500, Seoul)
Classy Digs + Awesome Acts = Memorable Night : Oriental Lucy with The Plastic Day, Sagitta (26th Apr. @ 500, Seoul)
Saturday Night Fever : Gumx (15th Mar. @ Club Spot, Seoul)
Next Stop: New Orleans : Harry Conick Jr. (13th Mar. @ Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Seoul)
On Fire : The Rocktigers (9th Mar. @ Sangsang Madang Live Hall, Seoul)
Get The Party Started : Cocore (29th Feb. @ Club DGBD, Seoul)
Out Of This World : Björk (19th Feb. @ Olympic Hall, Seoul)
No Rust On This Machine : Rage Against The Machine (9th Feb. @ Makuhari Messe Kokusai Tenjijo)
A Cause For Dance : The Afet Collective (8th Feb. @ Harajuku Studio Cafe)
Music Makes The Perfect Gift : Swinging Popsicle (26th Jan. @ Baekam Art Hall, Seoul)
At The (Co) Core, It's Still Rock N' Roll : Cocore (19th Jan. @ Blue Spirit, Seoul)
Good Ol' Fashioned Hardcore Workout : Terror and The Geeks (5th Jan. @ Skunk Hell, Seoul)
Shirt N' Tie Affair : Oh! Brother and Cabinet Singalongs (22nd Dec. @ Velvet Banana Club, Seoul)
The Blues : The Zoobombs (10th Oct. @ Starlight, Waterloo, Ontario)
Girls Just Want To Have Fun : The Pipettes (9th Aug. @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
For Those About To Rock : Metalchicks (16th Jun. @ Shibuya O-Nest)
Great Expectations : Asakusa Jinta (12th May @ Yoyogi Zher The Zoo)
Interview : Everybody Dance Now : The Afet Collective (22nd May.)
Thank You For Not Being White : Think About Life (3rd May @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
Too Good To Resist : Bleach with Midori, Electric Eel Shock, Detroit7 (23rd Apr. @ Shimokitazawa Shelter)
History Repeating : Flogging Molly (16th Apr. @ Shibuya AX)
The Self-Proclaimed World's Third Best Punk Band : Converge (7th Apr. @ Shinkiba Studio Coast)
Don't Forget Your Manners : Converge (16th Mar. @ Shimokitazawa Club 251)
They Don't Build Them Like They Used To : Yo La Tengo (19th Feb. @ Shibuya O-East)
Smoking Hot : Isis with These Arms Are Snakes, Boris (29th Jan. @ Shibuya Club Quattro
Hot In Herre : Calexico with Iron & Wine (27th Jan. @ Shibuya Club Quattro
You Can Always Come Back Home : Deerhoof (20th Jan. @ Shinjuku Loft)
The Untouchables : The Roots (15th Jan. @ Shibuya O-East)
Dream A Little Dream : The Album Leaf (13th Jan. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)
Here Today ... Gone To Hell : Arab Strap (11th Dec. @ Shibuya O-Nest)
Mo' Mo' Mo' Mo'some : Mo'some Tonebender (2nd Dec. @ Shibuya AX)
Good Things Come In Threes : Bleach with Ni-Hao!, Watusi Zombie (5th Nov. @ Yoyogi Zher the Zoo)
Glitter And Mop-tops : The Zutons (2nd Oct. @ Shibuya AX)
Twisting Minds And Tanning Behinds : Asylum Street Spankers (17h Sept. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
DVD review : I Know I'm Not Alone : Michael Franti & Spearhead (4th Oct.)
Melodic Metal Monday : Dark Tranquility w/ Galneryus (1th Sept. @ Daikanyama Unit)
Give Me Something I Can Dance To! : Fangsanalsatan Extra feat. The Stars, Boris, Guitar Wolf (22nd Jul. @ Shinjuku Loft)
Melting Everything In Their Path : Melt-Banana (9th Jul. @ Yokohama Club 24)
Never Too Old To Party : Shonen Knife (8th Jul. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)