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[Herald Review] Seoul Jazz Festival soothes with eclectic music

People watch stage performances at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
People watch stage performances at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)

Seoul Jazz Festival, which ran from Friday to Sunday at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, was filled with the audience’s joy, love, freedom, happiness and laughter.

With the return of the landmark annual outdoor jazz fest after a two-year break as South Korea scrapped most of its COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, the first day of the fest kicked off under a scorching sun.

About 10,000 festivalgoers flocked to the venue, hanging out on picnic mats and chairs on the grass while live music filled the air. While some were seen wearing shorts and tank tops, many were equipped with sunglasses, caps and umbrellas to avoid the glaring sunlight.

Los Angeles-based jazz trio Moonchild performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
Los Angeles-based jazz trio Moonchild performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
British singer-songwriter Etham performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
British singer-songwriter Etham performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)

While the festival offered jazz music and a diverse range of live performances, the Friday lineup mostly included global artists. The event began with Los Angeles-based jazz trio Moonchild and the audience welcomed the act with loud clapping and shouts.

The band who was visiting Korea for the first time presented refined jazzy sounds by performing songs including “What You Wanted,” “Get by” and “Too Good.” Members of the audience who were not familiar with their songs also swayed to the rhythm.

It was followed by British singer-songwriter Etham, who was also in the country for the first time. His performance of one of his beloved songs, “12:45,” prompted the crowd to sing along and he also sang “You’re the Reason,” the song he released an hour ahead of his performing schedule.

American singer-songwriter Johnny Stimson performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
American singer-songwriter Johnny Stimson performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
Singer Baek Ye-rin performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
Singer Baek Ye-rin performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
American singer-songwriter Johnny Stimson took the next turn, performing around 20 songs including “Gimme Gimme,” “Honey Moon” and “Smile.” The standing zone prepared in front of the stage was packed with people singing and chanting along to his music.

In between breaks, the audience made sure to restore their energy with the food they brought from home or purchased at the event, quenching their thirst by sipping on beer and wine to enjoy the festival to the fullest. 

Singer Baek Ye-rin was the only Korean artist to perform on Friday. Starting with “Bye Bye My Blue,” the musician sang not only her songs but also covered some jazz songs. She was the one who received the most fervent cheer from the audience on the day. 

American singer-songwriter Pink Sweat$ performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
American singer-songwriter Pink Sweat$ performs onstage at Seoul Jazz Festival at the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang, in southeastern Seoul, on Friday. (Seoul Jazz Festival)
American singer-songwriter Pink Sweat$, the headliner, wrapped up the evening on Friday. Dressed in a pink outfit, the artist’s mellow voice rang out among the crowd who took in the soothing breeze and fresh air, as dusk turned to darkness. 

Since it was his first visit to Korea, fans shouted his name and cheered him on loudly. The artist at one point burst into tears. To show his gratitude to the fans, he also came down from the stage several times and reached out to hold people’s hands.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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