The music portion of South By Southwest is kicking off tomorrow (March 15), with thousands of musicians from around the world heading to Austin, TX, to partake in the festivities. Between two different Korea Night stages (K-Pop Night Out, March 16, and Seoulsonic, March 18) and a variety of other performances over five days, South Korean musicians have big things to offer up at SXSW 2016. A wide range of musical styles including pop, rock, indie, reggae, and traditional music are going to be represented by these must-see acts.
Singer-songwriter Bobby Choi hails from New York by way of Seoul, where he’s found his musical domain. With a soft, romantic style featuring musical cues taken from Korea’s indie scene and the Christian contemporary music he grew up listening to, Big Phony is returning to perform at SXSW for his third year.
Electronic pop gets a hypnotic update from Bye Bye Badman, the indie electro-rock band that’s been winning Korean music awards since 2012. Bye Bye Badman’s sound is groove meets dance-rock, and it’s so genre-spanning that they’re the only act playing both K-Pop Night Out and Seoulsonic.
Korea’s answer to Canadian R&B, DEAN is the best option South Korea has to break into the mainstream American music world with his radio friendly, Drake-esque tunes. Rising to fame suddenly in 2015 with his electro-R&B productions, DEAN is the only Korean artist playing the Spotify House this year.
Old school East Coast-styled hip-hop is alive in East Asia, flowing within this Korean rapper’s tunes. Incorporating traditional Korean instruments into his most recent work, Deepflow is keeping Korean underground hip-hop real at SXSW during two performances.
This female alternative trio takes their tone from classic grunge acts and reinvents them to suit the times. With a sound that is both retro and modern, Guten Birds is SXSW’s Korean answer to purist rock fans.
Prepare for a one of a kind performance from this electronic music act that combines music and performance art in the best way. Haihm creates intense synth complexities seemingly out of thin air during her performances, while she herself is typically swathed in a holographic cube of thumping light.
Ambient rock is what this pair does best, and they’ve picked up award after award to prove it. The male-female duo offers up dreamy indie rock with haunting, distorted elements that bring to mind dreams. They played at 2015 Seoulsonic in New York City and are joining the Seoulsonic lineup once again at SXSW.
Jambinai’s post-rock style incorporates traditional Korean folk instruments, creating a fusion sound that has made them a constant at festivals all over the globe. They’ve been playing SXSW since 2014.
The trap-heavy “It G Ma” reveled in Asian culture in a way usually absent from Korean rap, becoming a viral hit and launching the artist to the realm of Korean rap royalty. One of the closing acts at the Monster Energy Outbreak House, Keith Ape is expected to bring a hyperactive performance to SXSW.
Smooth hip-hop meets reggae style with Kim Ban Jang, the drummer and vocalist of Korean reggae act Windy City. His soulful voice and tropical sound set him apart from other acts at this year’s Seoulsonic, where he’s playing the opening set of the evening.
This duo brings electro alt punk to life. Breathy vocals from lead singer Annie Koh bring things together for Love X Stereo, who have an atmospheric rock style that’s been garnering them attention for years.
Combining synchronized dance routines with outstanding vocals, Mamamoo will bring the more typical K-pop sound in an atypical way to this year’s K-Pop Night Out. The only idol group performing at this year’s SXSW, Mamamoo is a retro-style quartet that combines the polish of K-pop productions with the jazzy sound of yesterday.
For years, Neon Bunny has been the quintessential Korean indie musician. Her romantic electronic style is mesmerizing and will lull everyone into a trippy dreamlike state as the closing act of this year’s Seoulsonic.
Glam rock is well and alive with Victim Mentality, the boisterous Korean band that brings heavy metal to Korean audiences. Since playing at SXSW last year, Victim Mentality has a new lineup and brand new music they’ll be performing for the first time, bullwhip and all.
Sexy but danceable is how WYM describes his dream-pop music. The singer-songwriter is bringing the most evocative sort of dance music to SXSW, combining introspective lyrics with thumping beats. He’ll be playing his haunting tunes at this year’s Seoulsonic.
Arguably the most popular Korean R&B artist of the moment, Zion. T’s croon — paired with hip-hop elements — has launched him to great heights in the past few years. Playing with The Session, Zion T. will bring this year’s K-Pop Night Out to a close during the early hours of the morning with his sexy, stirring music.
Complete Schedule of South Korean Acts Performing at SXSW 2016:
Tuesday, March 15
DEAN (Spotify House, Side Stage at 2:15PM)
Wednesday, March 16
Bye Bye Badman (K-Pop Night Out-Belmont, 7:30PM)
Jambinai (Elysium, 8PM)
Victim Mentality (K-Pop Night Out-Belmont, 8:20PM)
Love X Stereo (K-Pop Night Out-Belmont, 9:20PM)
Mamamoo (K-Pop Night Out-Belmont, 10:20PM)
Neon Bunny (Lucky Lounge, 10:00PM)
Haihm (K-Pop Night Out-Belmont, 11:20PM)
DEAN (K-Pop Night Out-Belmont, 12:20AM)
Zion.T with The Session (K-Pop Night Out-Belmont, 1:00AM)
Thursday, March 17
Neon Bunny (International Day Stage, 1:00PM)
Jambinai (Flamingo Cantina, 9:00PM)
Big Phony (St David’s Bethel Hall, 10:00PM)
Deepflow (Palm Door on Sixth, 10:00PM)
Guten Birds (Voodoo Doughnut, 1:00AM)
Friday, March 18
Kim Ban Jang (Windy City) (Seoulsonic-Majestic, 8:00PM)
Guten Birds (Seoulsonic-Majestic, 9:00PM)
Bye Bye Badman (Seoulsonic-Majestic, 10:00PM)
WYM (Seoulsonic-Majestic, 11:00PM)
HEO (Seoulsonic-Majestic, 12:00AM)
Keith Ape (Monster Energy Outbreak House, 12:20AM)
Neon Bunny (Seoulsonic-Majestic, 1:00AM)
Saturday, March 19
Deepflow (Russian House, 8:00PM)
Victim Mentality (Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, 12:00AM)