Posted on October 30, 2017

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Picture: Douglas Vautour

In Volume One of my showcase series we looked at a new development in the music world; brass-based bands playing techno, dub, dance and house. It’s quite a thing to behold and if you get the chance I thoroughly recommend checking it out.

For Volume Two I wanted to look at something a bit less unusual. I don’t really like pigeonholing bands into specific genres, so “I” didn’t; I looked them up online to see what they call themselves. Thankfully, five of my favorite bands right now all label themselves as alternative / garage, so these are the genres I’m focusing on for this article. In addition to genre, the political nature of the bands’ music is another commonality. Whether through songs inspired by life in one of the most corrupt countries on earth, songs that question female objectification, or those that reflect the general feeling of discontent that can be felt all around the world at the moment, these bands are fighting back in whatever way they can.

The Dizzy Brains (Madagascar)

Anyone who was at Zandari last year or this year knows who The Dizzy Brains are. They have been the festival darlings twice in a row now. The Dizzy Brains is a garage rock band, many of which are to be found around the world, Korea being no exception. The Dizzy Brains, however, stand out from the rest. Fuelled by the kind of experiences that you could only have if you had been born into one of the poorest and most corrupt nations in the world (Madagascar), The Dizzy Brains’ live show is one that is high on the kind of energy, raw passion and anger that you would expect from a band that is the face of youth opposition to their country’s leaders. It really is something that has to be experienced in person to be believed, which I have been lucky enough to do multiple times now. I remember when I first saw them, playing a VIP-only show at a festival on Reunion Island … not an easy crowd, to put it mildly … but The Dizzy Brains absolutely killed it. The show was hypnotizing and I knew I was seeing one of the true rock ‘n’ roll bands of our era. Hopefully we will get a chance to see them back in Korea in 2018. While you are waiting, head over to BEELINE RECORDS and get a copy of their albums.

Louder Than War said it best: "With each song being a lesson in tension and dynamics The Dizzy Brains could actually be the best garage rock band in the world, they are that good…"

Crosa Rosa (UK)

Psych Rock / Garage band Crosa Rosa have been making quite a splash since their debut release just a few years ago in 2015. They are one of the most exciting bands on the UK circuit right now and it was an honour to get to see them playing over at Focus Wales in the UK earlier this year. Before they had even finished doing their soundcheck I knew I wanted to invite them over to Zandari. They didn’t disappoint, becoming one of the most talked-about bands at the festival. Did you see them? If so, then you will soon be able to say, ‘I saw them before they were superstars, down in that little dingy club in Seoul’. Crosa Rosa have gotten repeat airplay on some of the UK’s biggest radio programs and, despite the fact they are still considered relative newcomers, have appeared at many of the big UK festivals, including big hitters, the Reading and Leeds festivals.

"Nottingham's Crosa Rosa are possibly the best unsigned heavy three piece band in the country at the moment" – Gigwise

She Drew The Gun (UK)

She Drew The Gun played British night at Zandari 2016 and were one of my favorite bands of the whole weekend. Louisa is probably one of the most gifted songwriters of our time. Against the backdrop of political unrest across the world, She Drew The Gun seem to do an amazing job of capturing the feeling of discontent and disillusion felt by so many. Charged by passion, they have something to say, and it is something that we should all be listening to and thinking about. She Drew The Gun sadly didn’t make it to Korea this year, but I am sure we will see them back here in Korea in the near future, most likely headlining a festival or perhaps even doing their own big venue shows. You missed the boat if you didn’t see them last year, so you can’t brag to your friends about how you saw them first ;)

Buy their album, it’s fantastic. I still listen to the track poem on an almost daily basis a year after I first heard it. It still brings a tear to the eye on occasion as well.

Estrons (UK)

I first came across the Estrons thanks to Youtube’s algorithms. It kindly auto-played their song ‘Drop’ after something else I was listening to and I was immediately hooked. I never imagined I would get to see the band live, so I was thrilled to find out they were playing at The Great Escape (UK), which I was due to attend as part of my work with Zandari. They were my must see band for the weekend. Despite getting to the venue early (not early enough), the line was around the block already. I waited patiently and as people were let into the venue I was quickly at the front. Imagine my horror as the security guard told me the venue was full and I would not be getting in. I explained that I had come from the other side of the world and that I MUST see this band (I was begging basically), but it fell on deaf ears. Not even my delegate pass was any help at all. Thankfully, about 15 mins into their set, some idiots decided to leave …. which meant I was let in. Straight to the front I went, and what do you know … they played ‘Drop’ just as I got in! I think it is fair to call Estrons one of the most fiery and intense bands around.

The band have a fiercely high energy live show delivering high octane and infectious heavy pop with killer riffs that whip the crowds into a frenzy. They sing empowering songs about sexual dominance, male ego deflation and female objectification to name just a few topics. Estrons thrive on confrontation and on chipping away at the cultural issues and stereotypes that most won't go near. I did try to get the band out here to Zandari, but sadly we could not make it happen this time around. Hopefully next year then!

Nova Twins (UK)

Nova Twins stand astride the punk rock and grime scenes. One foot in each but defined by neither. Urban Punk is how they describe their music; others describe it as a mix of grime, hip-hop, punk and rock ‘n’ roll. They immediately bring to mind the potent and sharp-tongued venom of Rage Against The Machine, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what you call it; the band are a force to be reckoned with and a duo that won’t be ignored. Their live set is an explosion of energy and their in your face attitude mixed with killer bass lines and tongue-tripping lyrics will literally melt your face off. Sadly they weren’t in Korea for Zandari this year … but who knows, hopefully we will see them over here at some point in the future.

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