Super!Sonic Korea 2012

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By John Glynn

With a line-up that should excite any real music lover, the organizers’ of Super!Sonic can hold their heads high. The upcoming months should excite quite a few people in Korea, what with the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins, New Order, Soulwax, Tears for Fears, Soulwax, Foster The People, Gym Class Heroes and the Vaccines (a very exciting band from the UK) arriving in Seoul. This is shaping up to be quite a feast of live music. All these groups bring something a little different, from the brilliance of the Pumpkins to the beautiful madness of Soulwax; there is something to intrigue everyone, even the diehard K-Pop fans’. Here is a quick rundown on what to expect if you decide to venture to Olympic Park.

In a way, The Smashing Pumpkins were the misfits of the 1990s’ rock scene; an immensely powerful, unequivocally expressive rock band trying to stake a claim in a period that preferred the anarchy of punk. The Pumpkins specialized in the creation of animated guitar songs, explosive tracks designed to fill arenas. The band oozed individuality. However, this didn’t necessarily work in their favor. The band, led by frontman Billy Corgan, seemed to divide opinions, but there is no doubt regarding the influence they had on other musicians’ – bands like Bush and Silversun Pickups have most definitely been influenced by the brilliance of Corgan and co.

In many ways, New Order was a reincarnation of the renowned British post-punk unit Joy Division. New Order overcame adversity and emerged as one of the most prominent and powerful bands of the 80s. The group ingeniously manipulated various styles of music, cleverly embracing the electronic textures and disco beats of the underground club scene. It is important to realize that the group did this long before any of its contemporaries. New Order’s members were pioneers, introducing a revolutionary fusion of original aesthetics and dance music that effectively bridged the gap between rock and disco lovers. I cannot do the group enough justice; they created a typically solicitous and direct brand of synth pop which engaged music lovers across the globe.

Tears for Fears were always a little more motivated, a little more ambitious than the standard synth pop group. Once they formed, the duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were examining substantial themes. Actually, their very name resulted from Arthur Janov’s primal scream therapy, and his assumptions were apparent all through their debut album, The Hurting. Propelled by unforgettable, appealing synth pop, The Hurting was a smash in both the UK and Ireland, paving the way for global recognition. Their second album, 1985’s Songs From the Big Chair, was (and still is) extraordinary. On the sheer power of the two singles; “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout,” the album intrigued music lovers of various ages, thus establishing the duo as one of the principal acts of that decade.

The Korean debut of Soulwax is certainly an exciting prospect. Renowned for their highly energetic live sets, Soulwax, spearheaded by David and Stephen Dewaele, manage to deliver a lethal mix of alternative rock and electro. The innovative group hails from Ghent, Belgium. They are perhaps best known for their significant musical contributions under the names Flying Dewaele Brothers and 2 many DJs. The double act has produced a number of exceptional remixes, including “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” and “Get Innocuous!” by LCD Soundsystem and “Robot Rock” by Daft Punk. As a longtime fan of the duo, I am extremely excited to see the brothers doing their thing.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Foster the People are an indie rock trio. Formed in 2009, the group initially used Foster and the People as their original moniker. However, this name didn’t last long as people often mistook the name for Foster the People. The trio consisting of Mark Foster, Cubbie Fink and Mark Pontius opted for the name. Another reason is because the new one has an underlying meaning.

They began their career by performing at small arenas’ and charity shows like Toms Shoes; Day Without Shoes. The trio, who were in their mid twenties, furiously tried to figure out what musical direction was best for Foster the People. Back in 2010, their very first published creation “Pumped Up Kicks” received considerable airplay. Thanks to the success of the single, the band’s fan base rapidly grew. They are most definitely modern day innovators, a trio with a real chance of achieving worldwide recognition.

The Vaccines are a British indie rock band. In 2010, the group formed in West London, supporting a sound and style that is similar to that of the Arctic Monkeys. The group’s debut album, “What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?” was released on March of 2011. They have been compared to The Ramones, Interpol, The Libertines and The Strokes. However, the group have expressed how their main influences stem from “’50s rock ‘n’ roll” and “80s American hardcore”. Although the group have only been together for a little over two years, they have toured extensively and opened up for the likes of the aforementioned Arctic Monkeys and the enigmatic Arcade Fire.

New York’s Gym Class Heroes merge catchy guitar rhythms, belting bass lines, rhythmic beats and the occasional witty lyric to produce a self-described “indie/hip-hop” amalgamation. Additionally, the foursome uses live instruments and musicians as opposed to reoccurring samples and canned beats to create their distinctive sound. Renowned for their rigorous touring schedule, the group recorded The Papercut Chronicles in 2003, catching the attention of Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz before it was even completed. The Heroes were formally signed to his Fueled by Ramen imprint, Decaydance, in September of 2004. They went on to to garner up quite a big reputation. “Cupid’s Chokehold” is one of their most famous tunes; it was initially released in 2005 on The Papercut Chronicles, but was then re-recorded for their album As Cruel as School Children, which was re-released on November 4, 2006. Last year, Gym Class Heroes released Papercut Chronicles II, a follow-up to their 2003 label debut. The first single to be released from The Papercut Chronicles II was Stereo Hearts, featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5. This infectious track went on to plague the airwaves for months on end, almost inescapable, especially here in Korea.

Although Super!Sonic 2012 happens to be a midweek festivity (August 14th and 15th), don’t let this deter you from going. This marvelous line-up could very well make Super!Sonic the best festival of the year.

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