Posted on July 07, 2016
For many people the hot summer months in Korea mean heading to coffee shops for some bingsu or restaurants for naengmyeon. In a similar way, the summer months mark the start of festival season. The summer is packed full of rock & EDM festivals, but to me summer is not necessarily best suited to that kind of music. Woodstock, arguably the original rock festival, was first held on Aug 15th 1969, but it’s not actually that hot or humid in New York at that time of year. As for EDM music, it was originally intended for DJs to play on indoor stages, as you can tell by the name of its musical origin, ‘Big Room House’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning the two main pillars of the festival world. I just want to introduce you to some other music that suits the summer months even better, but sadly often gets swept under the carpet by the juggernauts that are the EDM and rock festival circuits.
That perfect summertime music I’m referring to is Ska. Ska music, unfamiliar to many Koreans, originated from the hot and sunny country of Jamaica in the 1950s, during the time of British colonization. The local Jamaican inhabitants had long been exploited by the white plantation owners and, as such, were not allowed to listen or dance to music. Despite this, American Jazz managed to find its way over the ocean to Jamaica and the musical situation began to change. Jazz music helped to ignite a fire under the innate joy for life that people from this island seem to possess. It wasn't long before they were imitating and then producing their own version of this new music style, which soon had people dancing in the streets. That music gradually became the ska music we know today, and the signature backbeat rhythm has become a symbol of peace and freedom across the world. There is no other music that I can say suits the summer months as well as this.
This summer, on August 27th, the best and biggest ska festival in Korea, ‘New Generation of Ska 2016’ is happening at Yonsei-ro in Shinchon. Ska has consistently been played here in Korean for some time, even though the genre is not that widely known. In fact, ska has been around for as long as the Hongdae indie scene has been. First generation punk bands in the late 90s/early 2000s like No Brain and Lazybone actually started out performing early ska punk music. These days you can see bands like Skasucks, Rudy Guns, Burning Hepburn & Respects making appearances at rock festivals as they all work hard to continue that ska punk tradition in Korea. Bands like Kingston Rudieska, Ska Wakers and South Carnival take it one step further and play a purer version of Jamaican ska complete with brass sections.
The New Generation Of Ska Festival is like a gift to long-time fans and performers of Jamaican ska music in Korea. It is an independently run festival dedicated to ska music and organised by ska musicians. It first started in 2006 and was hosted in a tiny little club, but now, thanks to the passion and efforts of the organisers it has grown into a big outdoor festival on the main street of Shinchon. Just like the local musicians in sunny Jamaica, these guys will be performing the music of ‘freedom’ and ‘peace’ and dancing with the fans on the streets of Korea.
So this hot summer, how about dancing and skanking on the streets of Shinchon to music that comes from an even hotter land? Of course you can still go to those rock or EDM festivals; they are great too, but if you come to this ska festival you will get to experience something a bit different, because of the raw passion that the organisers and performers have for ska music.
NGOSka festival is a street festival that is free for everyone to attend. However, these things don’t come cheap to set up so the organizers, Team New Generation of Ska, have turned to crowdfunding to help keep the dream alive. You can support these guys and help set up a great ska festival by heading on over to their corwdfunding page: http://goo.gl/B2Zyf1.
In return for donating some of your hard- (or not so hard) earned cash, there are loads of cool incentives on offer (from band merch to water bottles, eco bags, phone cases and more).
Date&Time: 2016.08.27. / 15:00
Vanue: Street in Shinchon
Written By: J-Myon Kim
English Translation: Patrick Connor & Doyeon Lim
Editing: Rock N Rose
For more information on the festival, check out the links below:
New Generation of Ska's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tngoska