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Music festivals are the hottest ticket in town: Summer’s here and music lovers across the country are ready to rock all night

July 04,2019
1. Greenplugged Gyeongju will be held from Sept. 28 to 29. 2. Jarasum International Jazz Festival will be held from Oct. 4 to 6. 3. Legendary Korean rocker Jeon In-kwon will perform at this year’s Gangwon Rock Festival. 4. Daybreak will feature at 2019 Jisan Rock Festival. 5. Many dance performances will be staged at this year’s Spectrum Dance Music Festival. 6. YB will perform at a number of festivals this year, including the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival. [PROVIDED BY EACH FESTIVAL]
This year’s Spectrum Dance Music Festival will be held at the Nanji Hangang Park in western Seoul from Sept. 7 to 8. [IDEALAB]
An array of outdoor music festivals - ranging in genre from rock and electronic dance music (EDM) to hip hop and jazz - are all scheduled to return this summer, bringing some of music’s hottest acts from around the world to Korea.

The history of young Koreans enjoying a weekend of music at an outdoor festival isn’t that long. In the early 2000s, there were only a handful of music festivals to draw fans of specific genres like rock or jazz. There were also times when so many festivals had sprung up that many of them failed to make any money. The market seems to be stable now, and the number of music festivals is steadily growing, making them one of the most popular annual cultural events for Koreans today.

And while two of the year’s major music festivals - UMF Korea and the Seoul Jazz Festival - have already come and gone, there are still many more to come.

Dance the weekend away

Many local EDM fans were quite disappointed when the venue of UMF Korea was changed from the usual Olympic Stadium in southern Seoul to Everland Speedway in Yongin, Gyeonggi, due to ongoing renovations at the stadium. Many of the festivalgoers chose to refund their tickets when the announcement of the venue change was made, citing the nearly two-hour drive down to the Everland Speedway, not to mention having to find accommodations after a long night of drinking and partying. That is why this year’s Spectrum Dance Music Festival decided to hold its two-day event at Nanji Hangang Park in western Seoul. Promoting itself as “Asia’s biggest themed EDM festival,” the organizers said the Spectrum Dance Music Festival allows attendees to enjoy four different-themed stages - named “Star City,” “Dream Station,” “Club Neo Jungle” and “Electro Garden” - that will each have “distinctively different music and special effects.” The festival will be held on Sept. 7 and 8.

The festival’s lineup has already generated a lot of buzz.

Dutch D.J. Afrojack, who has collaborated with major pop stars like Beyonce and Madonna, will headline the first day of the festival. D.J. duo Vini Vici, who perform the distinctive psytrance genre of dance music, will also appear on stage during the first day, followed by artists like 4B, GTA, Valentino Khan, Ekali, Salvatore Ganacci and Showtek, among others. On Sept. 8, big names such as Kygo, Madeon and Raiden will take the stage.

K-pop fans can look forward to the second day of the festival as girl group Red Velvet will also take the stage.

Another highlight of the Spectrum Dance Music Festival is the Costume Contest and the D.J. Contest. Just like last year, a total of 20 million won ($17,100) will be given out to the winners of each of the contests. The early-bird two-day ticket costs 132,000 won and a single-day ticket costs 88,000 won.

Let’s rock!

Three days of nonstop music and entertainment is back with the annual Jisan Valley Rock Festival. Although the festival is held during one of the most humid periods of the year at a ski resort 90 minutes from Seoul, the festival is always jam-packed with thousands of people. The final lineup has yet to be announced, but tickets are already selling like hotcakes, organizers say, because the Jisan Valley Rock Festival, one of the longest-running festivals in the country, has become an annual summer tradition for many.

This year’s lineup includes Guckkasten, Daybreak, The Solutions, Se So Neon, O.O.O., Say Sue Me, Kim O Ki and XXX on July 26; DickPunks, Sultan of the Disco, Zitten, Magna Fall, Bulssazo, Huckleberry Finn and Decadent on July 27; and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Yi Sung-yol, Monni, Adoy, Galaxy Express and Hellivision on July 28.

This year, the organizers decided to make it easier for attendees to stay at the festival by expanding the camping zone and selling camping tickets that include camping equipment.

To provide attendees the chance to take in the venue’s beautiful surroundings, organizers will operate a hot-air balloon that will fly 15 meters (50 feet) above ground, giving those on board a full view of the beautiful Jisan forest. For those looking to cool off, a swimming pool will also be set up and a pool party will also be held throughout the weekend.

The festival will be held from July 26 to 28 at the Jisan Forest Resort. Tickets range from 90,000 won to 260,000 won, depending on the day.

Another big rock festival in Korea is the Pentaport Rock Festival. Ever since it moved its venue to Moonlight Festival Park in Songdo, Incheon, the number of participants has grown each year. This year’s festival will be held from Aug. 9 to 11 and the full lineup has been announced.

The roster includes Rux, Sunset Rollercoaster, Vassline, Yamagata Tweakster, The Chairman, Triss, Pia, Crying Nut, YB, Wiretap In My Ear, Broccoli, Weezer, Steelheart, Romantic Punch, Choi Go-eun, Two Door Cinema Club, 9 and the Numbers, HarryBigButton, Sevdaliza, The Barberettes, The Rose, Jambinai, Rock’n’Roll Radio, Victim Mentality, Against The Current, Sonic Stones, Riot Kidz and more. Camping is also available at the venue.

One-day tickets cost 102,000 won; two-day tickets cost 127,500 won; and three-day tickets cost 170,000 won.

There have been criticisms from hard-core rock fans that existing rock festivals don’t feature enough rock music, as the lineups frequently place artists from other genres on the top of the bill.

To please rock music fans, a new rock festival has been created. The Gangwon Rock Festival will kick off its three-day event on Aug. 16 in Inje County, Gangwon. Only some of the lineup has been released so far, but it shows that the festival is making do on its promise. The acts include veteran rocker Jeon In-kwon, as well as popular rock bands YB, Pia, Romantic Punch, Sonic Stones, Vassline, H a lot and Naty from Korea. Several Japanese rock bands have also been invited, including Hey-Smith and Locofrank. The second part of the lineup will be announced on July 8. Tickets range from 80,000 won to 150,000 won.

Going green with music

The popular Greenplugged Music Festival, which is usually filled with Korean singers of diverse genres, has been one of the most popular music festivals among young Korean women and couples on dates. The festival not only attracts young festivalgoers with music but also calls attention to an array of environmental issues.

Greenplugged encourages attendees to bring picnic lunches that do not use plastic, as well as their own picnic chairs. They are also encouraged to clean up after themselves and take home their garbage at the end of the day. Witnessing its success in Seoul, its organizers added dates in Gangwon and Gyeongju as its second and third venues two years ago. Greenplugged Seoul was held in May, but Greenplugged Donghae, which will be held at Mangwon Beach in Gangwon, is coming up on July 20 and 21. According to organizers, thousands of young Koreans enjoyed the event at Mangwon Beach last year. Attendees were able to not only enjoy music but also helped clean up the beach after partying all weekend.

The lineup for Greenplugged Donghae includes 10cm, YB, Monni, Eric Nam, Stella Jang, Pia, Car the Garden, Sunwoo Jung-a and more. One-day tickets cost 60,000 won and two-day tickets cost 100,000 won.

Meanwhile, Greenplugged Gyeongju will be held on Sept. 28 and 29 at the Gyeongju World Culture Expo. Although some have raised concerns about the festival being held in a “random location,” organizers said that it has attracted more than 35,000 people over the past two years, contributing to promoting Gyeongju’s culture, economy and local tourism.

Tickets for Greenplugged Gyeongju went on sale on June 14, and they cost 66,000 won for a one-day ticket and 109,000 won for a two-day ticket. The first part of the lineup has already been announced, and it includes g.o.d, Nemesis, Wetter, Cheeze, Stella Jang and other talented acts.

In October, the annual Jarasum Jazz Festival, one of the most anticipated festivals for Korean music lovers, is making a return. Early-bird tickets are now on sale, priced at 80,000 won for three days. The lineup has yet to be announced. The venue of the festival is Jarasum Island in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi and the festival dates are Oct. 4 to 6.

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]