At the end of every summer, great bands from every corner of Korea, Japan and beyond converge upon some idyllic place near Busan and make a party. Pure and simple. No pretensions, no stress, no worries. It’s called Sunset Live and it’s the little brother of one of the largest reggae festivals in the world.
My first Sunset Live was 3 years ago in the mountains near Yangsan. It was just a small gathering of music lovers… maybe 50 or 60. Back then, it was only a one day festival but most of the bands and fans stayed overnight in a nearby ski lodge. The all night party was RIDICULOUS. The sound company set up a small dance club in the hotel lobby… which was joined by Brazilian beat masters Rapercussion (also on the bill this year). They distributed all manner of percussive toys and drums to us and suddenly the dance party became a percussion jam along to the DJ’s rhythms. I remember the band leader walking around with a whistle giving various rhythms to people. All the bands lounged around on the picnic tables outside and the beer flowed like wine. The good vibes were organic and I was having too good a time to grasp how fondly I’d later look back on that weekend.
And I digress… Just know that I look forward to this festival every year starting on the last chord of the previous year’s final band.
The festival’s first year was 1993 in Itoshima, Japan. A group of surfers rented out a parking lot and brought as many people together as they could to raise funds and awareness for the ocean. The first year’s motto was “Let’s Clean Up Our Dirty Ocean!” or something along those lines as it doesn’t quite translate. These days, the Fukuoka festival is 3 days with 75+ bands on the lineup. The Busan festival is now in it’s 7th year and growing nicely.
This year the festival will be held at Songjeong beach over two days (August 31st and September 1st) with 25+ bands covering Electronica, Reggae, Ska, Jazz, Pop and various Rocks. Even though Sunset Live grows each year, it has still managed to keep it’s grassroots feel. Bands mingle with the regular folk… good food (last year was catered by the Holy Grill in Daegu!)… cool vendors… Everything is just perfectly chill. As it’s a long day outside, I suggest you bring the usual sun protection, a nice blanket to sit on, some folding chairs perhaps and a cooler with ice and refreshing beverages.
With all these bands, I’m not going to squeeze everything into one post… but spread it out into several. The order of bands will be thus:
If you’re interested in buying tickets beforehand, you can get them on Interpark but you might need a Korean friend to help the process along. Prices are 22,000 won for 1 day… 33,000 won for both days: a goddamn steal considering the cost of most other weekend festivals you’ll find around Korea.
And while I’m mentioning money, I’d like to say that the organizers seem to care very little for it. You won’t find yourself paying 5 bucks for a bottle of water and they don’t mind if you bring in your own food or drink.
I’ll leave you all with a plain ol’ lineup per day. Of course, within the list are bands I’m excited to see for the first time, bands I’ve never heard of and bands I’m psyched to see for the umpteenth time… But I can’t honestly say any one of these bands isn’t worth seeing on their own. It’s music lover’s Festivus with no grievances to air!
This year’s lineup is:
Every Single Day
The Explosions (Japan)
No Brand (Japan)
Zion Luz Project
Duo Sonic feat. Lee Jae Yong
Lee Han Chul
One Drop East
Tehiun and Purijah
Seoul Riddim Superclub
Hot Pepper Pasta
I’ll be back soon with a preview of each day. Stay tuned!