Day three of SXSW 2016 was marked by a blend of artistry from two distant corners of the Korean musical spectrum, with hard-to-put-my-finger-on-it rock band Jambinai on one end, and rap cohorts Nucksal, Don Mills, and Deepflow on the other. Both sets were held at separate venues right across the street from each other, but the shows they housed couldn’t have sounded from farther worlds apart.
Tucked in the guts of a chaotic 6th Street is Flamingo Cantina. The dimly lit venue, its bar’s roof littered with flamingo accessories, played host to post-rock band Jambinai, who set up shop with their collection of traditional Korean instruments to perform one of the most sonically powerful and trepidatious shows at SXSW.
At first, the group that gathered to watch Jambinai perform grew a little antsy as the band struggled through a solid ten minutes of technical issues. But as soon as the sound guys got their shit together and the band was finally able to play, Jambinai tore into “Time Of Extinction“, sending everyone in earshot into a whirlwind of aural chaos.
The longer Jambinai exposed the audience to their musical landscape, the more the crowd gave in to Jambinai’s gravitational pull. It was an explosive showcase, praised highly among the few voices in the audience I was able to catch.
As one man put it, it was music he “didn’t know [he] needed in his life.”
Across the street at Palm Door On Sixth, Vismajor Company lit up the venue as part of Mandoo Entertainment’s Hip-Hop From Asia showcase with a hefty roster of performances. Each rapper built on the energy of the last, until the crew’s set peaked with 2016 Korean Music Awards Artist Of The Year Deepflow and his madly popular hit, “Big Brother”. Nucksal also delivered with “팔지 않아“, while Don Mills, whose arrival drove everyone wild, turned things up a notch to the tune of “88“. The trio effectively brought down the house, giving the world of SXSW a glimpse of the powerhouse talent from underground rap in Korea.
If there was one notable downside to the Vismajor showcase, though, it was the lack of bodies there to experience it. This could be attributed to either a lack of promotion, competing lineups at the same time slot across downtown Austin, or just the simple fact that the showcase in its entirety is in its infancy. The venue never quite filled up like it deserved, which was a shame given the show Vismajor put on. The trio of rappers set the bar pretty high for whomever Korea sends to represent at next year’s Hip-Hop From Asia showcase.