When my friend Sugar Suk-Yuel, irrepressible vocalist of Kingston Rudieska (who were the reason I fell into the Hongdae scene some years ago), announced that he was organizing this year-end event, I could barely contain my excitement. I will just go ahead and say that, in my view, this is already one of the greatest things to ever happen in Hongdae. I could not have dreamed up a more perfect line-up of shiny, happy, lovely people and unifying, joyous music. If you only go to one holiday-season concert or New Year’s party, make it this one, because more than any other musicians in Korea, these are the ones I most want to share with the world. Primarily, this will be a showcase of the 12 best reggae and ska acts and 4 selectors in Korea--if that sounds like a lot, it’s because this is intended to be the first true reggae festival in Korea, and not merely another concert. 2013 has seen a massive growth in the Korean reggae scene in particular. Starting in February of this year, Suk-Yuel and his 3-man selector crew “얼쑤 In The Earth” (playing primarily Caribbean & Roots music based on Ska, Reggae & Dub) have held monthly reggae/dance parties at venues around Hongdae, including bars, restaurants and Prism Hall itself, and even as far as Busan. Some of these parties have featured one or more of the bands in Rise Again’s line-up, and they are gaining in popularity. At the same time, roots reggae singer-songwriter Tehiun has been spearheading the Korean reggae and ska “movement” by developing a bilingual newsletter named after his record label “Purijah”. Three solo dancehall and reggae artists, M. Tyson, Jah Mai and JoshRoy (hailing from Uganda, the only non-Korean artist in the line-up) have joined forces with Rude Paper (a duo to be reckoned with through their electrifying fusion of EDM, dubstep, hip hop, R&B, rock and Korean reggae) to form the Wild Born System Crew. And to top it all, 2013 saw the formation of Seoul Riddim Superclub, originally a 13-man project band formed out of a collaboration between members of Kingston Rudieska, Number 1 Korean (Hongdae’s favorite ska punk stalwarts), Rude Paper, Jah Mai and Tehiun&Purijah, which now looks as if it’s here to stay, having not only appeared at several big summer festivals and on national TV, but also started recording their first album.
You will be able to see all of these musicians and more at Rise Again Vol.1. Sharing the spotlight with their label mates Kingston Rudieska (Korea’s authentic Jamaican ska pioneers) are Ska Wakers from Busan, and my new favorites South Carnival from Jeju, who bring more of a fun, dance-able Latin feel to their Korean brand of ska. Mood Salon is another big, young band whom I knew for their gypsy swing/trot fusion, but who also bring ska rhythms into their high-energy performances (and feature the only female vocalist of the night). Zion Luz Project is named for the leader of powerhouse “Afro-Carizilian” percussion band Rapercussion, and shares similar samba/bossa nova beats but less members/acrobatic drum-lifting. Rounding out the absolutely stellar line-up is Suk-Yuel’s new lover’s rock band called “Sugar, Come Again”—I love his gentler, acoustic interpretations of some of Kingston’s more raucous ska numbers, and it’s interesting to see him sitting down instead of skanking.
Suk-Yuel was kind enough to tell me a little bit about the reasons for planning this party. It was really due to the growing interest in the smaller reggae parties and ska festivals which happened in the past year. Together with Rude Paper’s RD Byeon, and the owner of Prism Hall (where a very successful Reggae All Night Party had already been held), they decided to hold one more big year-end party. At first it was just for fun—as a way of celebrating the growing unity between the various Korean ska and reggae musicians. But then they decided they wanted to reach a wider audience than the usual party attendees and fans of the bands involved. In Korea, reggae has traditionally been considered not just a fringe genre, but also associated with summer. The organizers of Rise Again want to break this stereotype, and not only make reggae a genre for all seasons, but introduce Koreans as well as a wider expat audience to the wealth and diversity of talented musicians who are developing the local Jamaican music scene and giving it a unique Korean flavor. This was their dream: to make the first true Reggae Festival in Korea, and many more to come. With all those 16 excellent bands and selectors to dance to, the party starts at 10 p.m. and will continue “all through the night” until 6 a.m.—at 25,000 won a ticket you’ll certainly get your money’s worth! But if you’re doubting your stamina, the fine people of Zion Boat, the wildly delicious Jamaican Jerk Chicken restaurant, will be on hand to feed you, and the fully stocked and pretty cool Prism Hall bar will take care of the rest. Join me there in shouting “One Love!” in the wee hours of the wintery morning.
By ROCK ‘N ROSE
Translated by Park Ddang
To book for Rise Again Vol. 1, go here: http://ticket.interpark.com/Ticket/Goods/GoodsInfo.asp?GoodsCode=13013354