Posted on July 12, 2017
The idea of a showcase festival is one I’d never encountered until I joined the Zandari team a few years ago. In the subsequent years I’ve learned a great deal about these unique festivals and the purpose they serve. Some showcase festivals focus on specific genres, others have much more diverse lineups. They’ve been springing up everywhere, particularly post-2005. Around that time the music industry underwent a massive change as it entered the digital age. Recorded music began to lose its significance as streaming (and subsequent stupidly low payments to artists) became the norm. At that point industry driven events focusing on live music began to increase in importance.
Live shows have not only become more important for the industry, but for the individual artist as well. Many modern day artists, especially when they’re starting out, can no longer rely on selling music to scrape by. Instead musicians are increasing their focus on the live business. But how do you land a gig if no one knows you yet? Showcase festivals can offer a solution, as long as artists do their homework.
There are showcase festivals all over the world. Some examples of the more famous ones are SXSW in America, The Great Escape in the UK, Eurosonic Noorderslag in Holland and Reeperbahn Festival in Germany. But you can find these festivals everywhere from Africa to South America. What separates these festivals from your normal commercial festival is that on the whole they’re promoting music from relative newcomer bands, rather than the more established bands you might expect to see at the bigger commercial festivals. Bands who don’t have years of success under their belts but are ready to take that next step in their careers. In short, these festivals are the best places to catch the next ‘best band in the world’.
For up and coming bands, a gig at a showcase festival can mean the start of a career, provided they do it right. The reason these festivals are such a good opportunity for bands is because they’re not merely an opportunity playing in front of fans. These festivals attract a large number of industry professionals as well. People who work as bookers, in labels, sync (getting songs in movies and dramas etc), festival organisers, writers, tastemakers, radio DJs … you name it … they are there. So these festivals provide an opportunity to help introduce the artists to other members of their industry, get that crucial review or, at the very, least help build an audience. It is not to say that if you play one of these festivals you will definitely get signed, but they do provide great opportunities to the artists who play them.
Last year, thanks to Zandari, I was given my first opportunity to attend a showcase festival as a delegate. Dalse, my Zandari boss called me up and asked if I fancied going to Reunion Island. Honestly, I had no idea where that was but said “yes” anyway. I was thrilled to find out it was an island situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Since then I’ve also been to Transmusicales (France), Focus Wales and the Great Escape, which are both in the UK. At these festivals I’ve had to give presentations about Zandari, have meetings with business associates any many other types of research and preparation for Zandari. But by far the most fun part of these trips is scouting potential bands to bring over to Korea for Zandari festival. I am so thankful to have got to see so many amazing bands I would never have had the opportunity to see otherwise. Indeed, I probably would have never of even heard of them. This brings me to the point of this article, I wanted to introduce some of these amazing bands I have been lucky enough to see to readers of DOINDIE. Now, I know they are not Korean artists, but I don’t think that matters. Good music is good music, no matter where it comes from. So, although we are and will always be a Korea-focused website, we figured it’d be fun to introduce some emerging talent from other countries as well. There are too many bands to do in one article, so I’m breaking it down into loosely related genres / styles. Some of the bands I’ll introduce in this upcoming series have already been to Korea. Some will be coming in the near future (hint hint) … others remain on the wish list.
For the first episode I wanted to introduce something a bit different. Brass bands! We are all used to seeing brass instruments like the trumpet, tuba, french horn and saxophone etc being used in Jazz bands or marching bands. But what about at a rock show, or a nightclub setting. Now, if you have never seen anything like this before, you might be thinking I have lost my mind. But there’s a trend across the global music scene of bands using these instruments to create house, techno, hip hop and dance music. The shows are so much fun and very unique. How often is it you come across a marching band pumping out massive house tracks!? So, for those of you who haven't heard anything like this yet. Check out these bands and if the opportunity comes along to see one live … don’t pass it by!
Too Many Zooz is a music group out of New York City consisting of Leo Pellegrino (baritone saxophone), Matt Doe (trumpet) and David "King of Sludge" Parks (drums). The group started out busking at subway stations in New York city and shot to fame when a video of one of their subway performances, recorded by a passer-by at Union Square station, went viral on YouTube in March 2014. The band is acclaimed for their originality, the members' playing abilities and Pellegrino's characteristic dance moves while playing the sax. The band has released 3 EPs and their first full-length studio album titled Subway Gawdz on June 27, 2016. Last year they also collaborated with Beyoncé at the CMA Awards. Too Many Zooz play a style of music they have called Brass House. Check out these videos of the band:
Sax Machine is what you get when Hard-Bop, Afro-Beat, Funk and Hip-Hop collide. Sax Machine perform this awesome bland of music using loopers and brass instruments like the saxophone and the trombone! Incredibly engaging the band are at home on the big stage or in a small and very intimate setting, like the living room session where I was lucky enough to catch them last year at Transmusicales festival in Rennes, France.
MEUTE is a Marching Band that plays Techno music! A dozen drummers and horn players from Hamburg/Germany who fulfil the job of a dj with their acoustic instruments. The old fashioned use of brass and drums combined with hypnotic driving techno and express brass band music makes for an awesome new form of brass band music. MEUTE detaches electronic music from the DJ desk and adds a thrust of live energy. Watching them live, if you closed your eyes you wouldn’t know there was no DJ up there. When the bass sound kicks in, there is no turning back. No matter where you see the band play, be it in a nightclub, on a festival main stage or indeed unplugged in a market square … MUTE get everyone moving.
Lucky Chops is a New York city band that has been unleashing high-energy brassy funk on the world since 2006. The band got their start busking in the stations of the New York subway system. The band mix original songs with brassy, high-energy covers of popular songs on marching band instruments. When playing live the band’s members are in perpetual motion, swinging, swaying and dancing across and around the stage. Sure, brass music may not be for everyone, but Lucky Chops are. Their music is fiercely catchy, the kind of music that will have you coming back to listen time and time again.
Their saxes-and-drums clamour of subterranean house-bass hooks and stormy drumming has been a hit wherever they play. Moon Hooch used to be such popular buskers on New York’s subways that the NYPD banned their impromptu shows as a public-order hazard. This unique trio of energetic eccentrics are proof that acoustic jazz instrumentation can pack a cliche-free dancefloor punch. Although I have not managed to see these guys play in person yet, I wanted to include them in the list as they were the first band I came accross playing this kind of music on the awesome NPR tiny desk.
Written by : Patrick Connor
Edited by : Alex Ameter