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Grand Mint Fest gets greener but remains chaotic

The Grand Mint Festival, one of the country’s rare indie music festivals, is known for its combination of nature and music, allowing visitors to enjoy a picnic while listening to music at outdoor concert venues.

In its fourth year, the GMF has got better in terms of restricting fast food and drinks to reduce litter, but worse at arranging band lineups and managing the crowd.

As Mint Paper, the operator of the GMF, had warned on its homepage that people cannot bring fast food or snacks that were likely to cause too much waste, I packed lunch boxes, fruit, a bottle of water and a flask of wine to prepare for at least 8 hours in Olympic Park.

By the time I arrived at around 2 p.m., people were already filling the venue, including two picnic zones, a standing zone for the main “Mint Breeze Stage,” a small stage “Blossom House,” a coliseum-like stage “Soup Loving Forest Garden,” and “Club Midnight Sunset” at the Gymnastics Stadium. At the four stages, 26 bands were to perform for about one hour each, from 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Brazilian singer-songwriter Tiago Iorc performs during the Grand Mind Festival at the Olympic Park in Seoul on Saturday. (Kim Yoon-mi/The Korea Herald)
Brazilian singer-songwriter Tiago Iorc performs during the Grand Mind Festival at the Olympic Park in Seoul on Saturday. (Kim Yoon-mi/The Korea Herald)

While I was spreading a mat and unpacking my lunch, acoustic guitar duo One More Chance coaxed attention from the crowd with soft songs including “I’m Thinking of You” and “Going Back the Time.” The duo even performed Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” with their iPhones. The remake didn’t hurt the original version at all.

Then, the screen in the outdoor main stage kept notifying people that the semi-indoor Soup Loving Forest Garden stage could not accommodate any more people, requesting they go elsewhere. The stage, situated right next to a small lake, had a lineup of famous bands including Park Sae-byeol, 10cm, Jeong Jae-hyeong and Epiton Project.

Giving up on Park’s performance at around 2:40, I headed for Oh Ji-eun and Wolves at the indoor Club Midnight Sunset stage of the Gymnastics Stadium.

With the stadium completely dark and the stage colorfully lighted, Oh showed her rock-and-roll side with her new songs that are to be released in an upcoming album.

I was expecting more acoustic sound rather than heavy beats and loud vocals, but saw Oh’s ability to easily digest a variety of genres including 80s metal.

Back at the Mint Breeze Stage around 5:40 p.m., Jaeju Boys’ soothing guitar melodies and tender vocals perfectly mingled with the glow of sunset.

Although Mint Paper had earlier said that it strictly limited the number of tickets to ensure spacious outdoor activities and pleasant concert watching, several concerts were abandoned because of overcrowding.

After managing to enter the super-popular venue “Soup Loving Forest Garden” to see Jeong Jae-hyeong’s delicate but powerful piano with cello, I immediately headed for Lee Seung-hwan but there was an extremely long queue, even one hour before the concert.

“It would’ve been better if Lee Seung-hwan was performing in the outdoor’s main stage. Then, a lot of people would have been able to see him,” said a spectator in her 30s.

Korean Japanese Yang Bang-eon, also known as Ryo Kunihiko, was the last lineup at the main “Mint Breeze Stage” at 9:00 p.m. People were fighting the cold with blankets and mufflers.

Sitting firmly at the piano, Yang’s band delighted the audience with Asian traditional melodies mixed with violin, guitar, bass and drums. When one of the guitarists played a ukulele with the new-age band, the audience shouted with joy.

“I have good news for you. I’m holding a concert in Korea in January,” said Yang to cheers and applause.

Yeom Su-jin, a Twitter user, said she wished that the GMF would reduce the number of tickets sold so that people could enjoy the event.

This year, tickets were set at 66,000 won for one day, and 99,000 won for two days.

By Kim Yoon-mi  (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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