SXSW 2019: XXX, Jambinai, Hitchhiker, Kirara lead the rest of KOCCA’s Korea Spotlight

This year’s SXSW showed a boost in growth as the now-famed KOCCA event Korea Spotlight has been moved from their previous venue to the much larger, famous Austin City Limits theater. With this move came a ticketing system that allowed fans to purchase tickets in advance even if they did not have a badge or wristband for the festival. Those tickets absolutely flew when the lineup was announced.

In this first half of the show, KOCCA brought some of the most talented Korean independent artists, so let’s dig in!

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The night opened up with Jambinai, a band that mixes traditional Korean sounds with industrial, metal and synth rock with such fluidity, you won’t know how to process it. Their live performances simply can’t be beat. You have to go in prepared for an emotional experience so transcendental you’re not going to want to come back from it.

Jambinai is less of a band and more of an auditory experience. They use beats and sounds to legit tap into your emotions on a nearly primal level. The most notable moment was their live performance of “They Keep Silence“, their absolutely guttural song dedicated to the victims of the Sewol Ferry disaster. They explained a bit to the audience, stating they are not K-pop at one point, then in another that after Sewol Ferry happened this immense anger and sadness pushed them to creating the song. A need to talk about how the victims voices were silenced not only by their deaths but by the one who was responsible for their death. By the end of the song, everyone was in utter shock. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. The entire audience cheered as they collected the feels that they had previously spilled all over the floor.

Next came Kirara, and the best part about KOCCA is getting to experience artists who are vastly different than any other artist on the bill even if they are labeled within the same genre.

Kirara is a force to be reckoned with in the electronic scene. A young woman whose equipment was set up to face sideways on the stage proceeded to start hard and finish even harder as she drilled beats into the heads of every audience member in attendance. She expertly mixed sounds into cohesive electronica as she hopped around, one hand on her equipment, the other high above her head as she danced to her own beats.

We were instantly transplanted into an underground electro party complete with a goddess at the helm. Suddenly we were ravers with glow sticks and a need to dance! She finished hard and the crowd cheered as she bowed, grabbed her laptop, and stepped off stage, proving why she is an award-winning DJ.

XXX took the stage next, but only after fans watched the graphic and fantastic animated video for “Flight Attendant“. It left members of the audience shocked and very much intrigued.

FRNK and Kim Ximya stepped on the stage and performed the most unique hip-hop performance most of us have ever seen. There was no turning up. There was no jumping around and screaming into the mic. There was no hype. There was simply a man and his intensely experimental beats coupled with a man and his deeply observant lyrics.

Ximya spoke English into the mic in brief spurts and even handed the mic to FRNK, who froze and turned a bit pink as he didn’t know what to say. He thanked the crowd for their time and then proceeded to play one of the most complex mixes of sounds I’d heard in years. Ximya had stepped back, slowly pacing the stage and let FRNK do his thing. It was … well, really it was wild.

In the crowd, everyone was enthralled. They watched and listened as if they’d stepped through a portal into a new world. After their performance, people talked animatedly about them and started googling like crazy. Mission accomplished.

Finally, to round out the first half of KOCCA, Hitchhiker took to the stage in his wild, diamond-cut space suit, giant fan, turntables, and a need to take us back to the rave. I gotta admit, he sure as hell went hard spinning everything from classic deep house to hip-hop. The annual KOCCA turn up had begun and oh my god we were lucky to survive!

He pounded out a mix that made my old inner kandi kid proud as we all danced screamed and hopped to his mix. He rounded out the set with the insane “ELEVEN“, which I never thought we’d get to hear live! It was ridiculous how hard that track went live!

It seems so tame on YouTube to me now that I’ve seen him mix it live and it makes me wish I could see him do it again! The audience went bonkers for it, light sticks a’ flying, as everyone, including Hitchhiker, danced it out.

KOCCA completed the night with Chungha and iKON, both being phenomenal on stage live but whom I’ve already covered.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the way KOCCA turned out this year. Only a few hiccups compared to previous years and it was a fantastic eclectic show that everyone enjoyed. I can’t wait to catch it next year!

About Yaaaaaas

Yaaaaaas
I'm not drunk enough for this.