Seoul Electronic Music Festival went down last weekend in Ilsan. I got super drunk and danced my face off. This is what I can remember.

Getting to the venue presented a challenge. Was it worth saving some coin and taking the 90 minute subway ride from HBC? Absolutely not. Luckily there were some cool Korean chicks at the pre-party we went to, who sourced a fleet of mini-vans for us. Koreans are so smart; I swear they know everything about getting sweet deals in their own country. I really hope all the ones who have saved me money, and time over the last few years never come to Australia and expect any goddamn skills from me; they’ll be several shades of let-down. I digress.

We rolled up to the Kintex hall at around 7. The whole place had resembled Incheon Airport – glass and steel, giant ceilings, odd sculptures, frightening looking food halls.  Inside was even weirder. It’s an exhibition hall that has been used for car shows, but tonight was set up for live music. The vibe when we first arrived reminded me of a grade 9 school dance. It wouldn’t be Korea without some truly bizarre cross-promotion going on- thank goodness for the Sorrel stand! Without those over-priced Canadian winter boots on display I could have been anywhere. Except of course, when it comes to lining up for drinks and food. Anyone who has been to a festival back home is aware of what a shit fight it is to get any sort of alcohol- line ups for hours, jerks getting pushy; all of this is a distant memory in Korea. Similarly to Global Gathering, the servers were quick, the lines were tiny and fast moving and everything was reasonably priced for a festival.

VU entertainment has this weird policy of only serving one or two types of drink at their events – Boyz Noise, Global Gathering and the New Year’s High Lights Festival only served beer, vodkal, or Jaeger and Redbull. The events they are bringing are so good that it’s little more than a mild annoyance, but it’s still strange.

By the time Idiotape hit the B stage at 8, the school dance vibe had definitely disappeared. Something about being so far out of town gave the event a level of finality – you were in for the night and you had an area the size of two aircraft hangers to run around in, so there was no excuse not to commit completely. I’ve seen Idiotape a few times this year and they never cease to blow me away. There is something quite awesome about watching a band get better and better every time you see them, and I truly hope that they manage to find a way to cash in on the current world-wide obsession with Korea. It would be a damn shame if the only thing people get a chance to hear is tepid K-pop when there are cats as talented as these guys (and The Koxx! Listen to the Koxx!) making brilliant music.

I have a real disdain for the posturing of Alice Glass, but by the time Crystal Castles hit the stage I was prepared to dance to just about anything. The crowd was completely warmed up by now, the scene-snapping photographers were everywhere and there was a very warm, happy feeling covering the whole venue.

Justice rolled on at midnight and despite all of the flack they’ve copped for their second album, they absolutely destroyed it. They make the type of music that you feel like you have heard before half-way through the first listen. The amount of Koreans in the crowd rocking massive signs is a testament to the universal, feel-good style of their music. Plus, it would take a cold-hearted punter indeed to resist getting in on a D.A.N.C.E scream fest.

Above and Beyond followed up just before 2am. I’m pretty new to this type of music, but I know what I hate – and I don’t hate this. They were super amped and kept the energy levels at a maximum for the entire set. Half way through they released all of these giant colored balls reminiscent of the ones from Arcade Fire’s Coachella show last year. It was super cool, made for some amazing photographs and totally worked in the space. They ended a really stand out set by flashing up all of these awesome images on the screens with messages like, “Life is all about the small moments” and “Thank you for the small moments like this”. My favorite though, sums up SEMF – “This is Seoul on a good day”.

Article written by: Nina Hoffman
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