K-Pop Night Out is a big thing during SXSW. I didn’t really know how dedicated some people would be waiting in the cash line for a chance to see the Kpop acts like Hitchhiker, Crayon Pop, and Epik High. But I was there for the earlier acts, able to see Eastern Sidekick and The Barberettes for the first time along with my second shows with Asian Chairshot and EE.
The venue filled up quickly when the Elysium started letting people in and a lot ran to the front of the stage. Eastern Sidekick started the show. It was apparent that some of the early crowd didn’t know the band. But by the middle of Eastern Sidekick’s set, the crowd had been hooked and were moving along with the music. There was a bit of pressure for Eastern Sidekick to start the show because most of those people were there for pop. But it didn’t take long before the crowd was hooked. Vocalist Oh Ju Hwan jumped into the crowd and riled them up, returning to the stage after grabbing a cowboy hat. By the end of Eastern Sidekick, the crowd energy was high.
Asian Chairshot was second and I think in the beginning, they confused the audience. They look like a rock band, but Asian Chairshot did a great job baiting-and-switching any expectations. Once the audience started falling into the grooves, the hypnotic guitar and bass took them on an audio journey. As the crowd streamed in, people only expecting Kpop got surprised. Like at Geeks From Gangnam, Asian Chairshot played a solid and impressive set.
Of all the bands, I think The Barberettes would be the group most people weren’t expecting. After two rock bands, The Barberettes 50s doo-wop changed the entire feeling at the Elysium. It was a little hard to hear the melodies depending where you were standing, but the retro feeling came through with the stage setup. The Barberettes stood front and center with bass, keyboards, and drums in the back. The Barberettes’ choreography definitely made their performance extra special. While other bands fueled themselves with the crowd’s energy, The Barberettes’ precise performance was a nice change. They quickly got the attention of the crowd and kept it.
I’m glad that I got to see EE again. The show at the 405 Club was small, but still had great audience reactions. With this more Kpop-knowledgable group, some people had a faint idea about EE. They played a similar set to the 405 Club, but with the added TV visuals, and the bigger crowd, EE found a perfect match between their music and the audience. EE started with “No. 417” which introduces the performance part of the group with two dancers. It’s really when EE start with “Freak Flag Fly (Remix)” that the show really begins. The dancers had a better chance to feed the audience and get better responses. Peter from Ktown Cowboys also had his first EE experience and was impressed.
I skipped most of Hitchhiker, but did see Crayon Pop and Epik High. K-Pop Night Out was definitely a success and each band found a following. But as K-pop Night out was a mix of indie, rock, and pop; Seoulsonic will be all rock.