Venues across Hongdae will open their doors for a multistage showcase festival this weekend.
Zandari Festa’s acts are mostly Korean, including well-known acts such as Crying Nut and Kingston Rudieska, but also visiting acts -- particularly from the UK and France this year.
And several expat performers will be among the Korea-based acts.
Patrick Connor, who is part of the festival’s organizing team, said the festival aimed to bring together music professionals and musicians from Korea and overseas.
“We hope that as a result of this festival bands get opportunities to further their careers as musicians,” he said.
“Of course, we also hope to put on a great show for the fans and hope that we play some part in helping to develop the local scene as well.”
Indie-rock artist Grey Watson will be performing for the first time at Zandari, accompanied by the Visons, though he has been to past events. He agrees that it is a good way of connecting the local scene with a wider range of artists.
“It’s such a nice opportunity to play with some artists from around the world, while being a part of the local scene as well,” he said.
Grey Watson and the Visions started this year and have been performing regularly, though Watson says he plans to focus more on writing now.
“2016 birthed us really. I put out the album. We played about 16 shows on tour in the US,” he said.
“I’m gonna plan a smaller winter tour to keep people aware that we exist and are doing stuff, but developing the next releases is the main thing.”
For instrumental rock act Romantiqua, this will be at its fourth Zandari Festa.
The group has been on hiatus while working on material for the follow up to its 2014 album “Revenge,” and this will be its first show of the year.
“The energy inside the clubs seeps out onto the streets of Hongdae and the whole weekend has this sense of camaraderie,” said Anton Brinza.
“We have always played great shows during Zandari. They have been some of our funnest and most energetic shows, with incredible responses from the crowds. That’s why we’re so glad that Zandari will be our first show back at it this year.”
Tierpark is another band on its fourth Zandari outing. Guitarist Jonathan Jacobson describes the band, formed in 2012, as post-rock, but with more conventional songwriting than the slow instrumental buildups typically associated with the genre in Korea.
He said this year had been spent writing new material.
“I don’t think there will ever be a time when we’ll not be writing,” he said. “We strive to always be refining and enhancing our style. I guess one day we’ll sound Tierparky enough. Right now we’re sitting on some new tracks and hoping to record an EP this year.”
Jacobson said he felt the music scene in Korea was branching out at the moment.
“There is really a large variety of musical styles gaining attention. One thing I can appreciate is Korean bands taking older genres in new directions,” he said.
“Back home in the states I feel like everyone is trying so hard to be different, to stand out rather than just being honest with what they are. Right now in Korea I can think of some current doo-wop and even rockabilly bands, and that’s pretty awesome.”
Among the bands he is looking forward to is Mongolian act Magnolian.
“His sound is so much like a first love, young and carefree while also innocent and vulnerable,” said Jacobson. “I think his girlfriend even performs with him, so that only further drove it home for me. Being in a band alongside my wife, I can definitely appreciate the inter-relationship connection.”
Other foreign artists will come from countries including Japan, the US and Singapore, with two stages dedicated to acts from the UK and France.
“This year we have added two special stages. One is called British Night: Sound City Takeover At Zandari. This show will feature five of the best up and coming artists from the UK and came about thanks to our partnership with Liverpool Sound City in England,” said Connor, adding that the festival sends bands over to play in the UK each year as well.
“The other special stage will be called Esprit Francais and is being put on to celebrate ‘The Year of France in Korea.’ Again, it features some amazing acts out of France.”
The festival takes place each evening from Saturday to Monday at 11 venues in the area. Information about the venues and schedule are available at http://www.zfesta.com/en/.
There are one-day and two-day tickets and a three-day special pass available. The British and French nights are only open to special pass holders. Prices range from 33,000-110,000 won, with discounts available for advanced bookings.
Tickets can be bought online at Interpark.