Jisan Valley Rock Festival | 07.29-08.01 | South Korea

Words & Images by: Tamara Grayson

Jisan Valley Rock Festival:: 07.29.10-08.01.10 :: Jisan Valley Ski Resort :: Icheon, South Korea

Crash :: JVRF 2010
Having lived in New Orleans for the past seven years, I didn't realize how spoiled I was with live music until I moved to South Korea this past March. Due to the location of the town that I'm teaching in, I've only seen three live bands in the past five months! So, I was desperately looking forward to this year's Jisan Valley Rock Festival, which takes place on the Jisan Valley Ski Resort grounds, just 40 minutes south of Seoul in Icheon. Getting there, for me, involved a three-and-a-half hour train ride, an hour subway ride, and a final hour- long bus ride. Getting the right information, in English, about where, when and how to get to the fest was slightly frustrating. A far cry from waking up in my own bed and walking a few blocks to Voodoo Music Experience or Jazz Fest in New Orleans.

Jisan Valley Rock Fest lasts for three days, where you can camp or stay at one of the local jimjibangs (saunas with with sleeping quarters). This year's line up boasted such international acts such as Belle & Sebastian, Massive Attack, Corinne Bailey Rae, Muse and New Orleans' own Mute Math. Some local acts I was looking forward to seeing were Toe (Japanese progressive rock), Matzka (Taiwanese roots reggae), and The Moonshiners (Korean rockabilly), along with Seoul Electric Sound, Mate, Art of Parties, Galaxy Express and Taru.

A band that really blew my mind was a Korean thrash metal band called Crash. Little did I know how legendary they were. Getting their start in the early 90s, they were the first band here to inspire moshing and stage diving, which there was plenty of at this performance. Korean metal is alive and well. The rock stages ended their night at 9:30 pm but the entertainment didn't stop there. It spilled over to the Electronic Stage, where there were DJs spinning until 4 am every morning. Another late night option was the fire poi demonstration area accompanied by a drum circle, or if you wanted to get down and dirty, another DJ tent had foam spewing down on you until the break of dawn.

Food, Drink & Vendors
The food and drink venders were open during all hours the festival operated. Options included New York hot dogs, a taco/burrito stand, hamburgers, toasted sandwiches, slow smoked meats, and fresh grilled chicken boti and samosas, along with traditional Korean foods like cold kimchee noodle soup, tteokbokki (rice cakes, meat and veggies in a red pepper sauce), dried squid, spicy ramon, and beondegi (boiled silk worms). Yes, I have tried beondegi, and though it may be high in protein I will never venture that way again. There was only one beer option, which was Miller Genuine Draft, though there were plenty of cocktail stands. The most popular was Vinyl, which is known for making their drinks in plastic bags. My personal favorite was the fresh lime margaritas and mint mojitos from Lazy Heaven. Limes are impossible to find here so to have such a delicacy was worth every cent of the 5,000 won.

The Indian Village was surrounded by vendors and food stalls. There was an Orange amp tent, a vintage dress store, a CD tent, Calvin Klein underwear (really), and a Cosmopolitan Tent, where you could get makeovers or do your own touchups. There was even tent full of exercise bikes where they provided you with an iPod to use.

A Few Things That Might Need Explaining
Korean couples dressing the same: If you're in love, you match your clothing to the T. Same T-shirt, jeans, flip-flops and yes, even knickers. Most underwear stores have male/female models wearing undies made from the same material.

The Top 4 Questions Koreans Ask Foreigners: How old are you? Are you married? What's your blood type? and What is your job? This still baffles me as much as it is entertaining.

Jisan Rock Fest is only in its second year, capturing an attendance of roughly 30,000. For my first festival far, far away from home it was delightful. Who wouldn't want to be tucked away in the mountains of Asia listening to some of the best bands in the world for a weekend?

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