Jisan won't leave you high and dry
The Jisan Valley Rock Festival in Icheon is all grown up. What started in 2009 as a fledgling music festival trying to take on surly, older brother Pentaport has now gotten a lot bigger than its sibling in Incheon. With Radiohead on the bill, it certainly deserves its adult status.
The first year’s big names were Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Jimmy Eat World. Nothing special, but a good start. 2010 saw Pet Shop Boys, Vampire Weekend and Massive Attack. Again, solid, but no real big draw. The lineup in 2011 seemed a little more suited to brother Pentaport, with the rock bands Incubus and Arctic Monkeys, but it was still a step in the right direction.
Now with 2012’s lineup of the aforementioned Radiohead, the Stone Roses, Los Lonely Boys, James Blake, Elvis Costello, Liam Gallagher of Oasis’ Beady Eye and M. Ward, Jisan has finally, truly arrived. The festival begins on July 27 and runs until July 29, but campers can set up on the 26th in the evening and take down camp on the morning of the 30th. Camping tickets are only available for people who buy three-day passes.
Korea has long scrounged after Japan’s summer festivals of Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic, often picking up the scraps from their bigger, more impressive lineups. While Japan is still a bigger draw for top-shelf performers, it’s hard to deny the progress promoters here have made.
Festival culture is still relatively new to Korea, not to mention its total lack of follower culture. Fans of Phish, Widespread Panic or the the Grateful Dead would be nomads without a cause here.
Give it time. It’s not hard to see Jisan and Pentaport growing into something like Bonnaroo or Coachella in the U.S. or the U.K.’s Redding and Glastonbury in the not-so-distant future.
It might take a decade, but they’re on the right track. If they can get the bands, what’s not to like? Korean crowds are excellent at shows. The fans are polite and respectful. They’re not overly drunk or on drugs, so they dance all night without the help of foreign substances. It seems they come purely for the music, which is the best kind of fans there are.
Plus, it should be easy enough to get to the show. We all know that Korean public transportation is fantastic, and there should be plenty of cabs.
The city of Icheon in Gyeonggi Province otherwise doesn’t offer much for visitors. Just shy of 200,000 people, the town has long been known for ceramics, peaches and rice, as well as the ski resort where the festival takes place. But that’s what makes it ideal for a no-frills, outdoor festival. Festival organizers realize many Koreans are used to city comforts. They know the lines to the bathrooms are going to be long and the local mosquitoes consider the festival high season, but they also know that’s what makes the experience worth it. Stay in Hongdae if you don’t like getting grass in your tent.
Come to Jisan for what is turning into one of the best music festivals in East Asia. It’s going to be a blast.