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Pentaport Rock Festival celebrates its tenth birthday this year with a three day music extravaganza in Songdo, Incheon from August 7 to 9. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of events as the festival has experimented with a change of venue, stage names and even music genre to become one of the biggest and brightest outdoor music festivals in Korea.
Back in 1999, the festival’s predecessor went by the name of ‘Tri-port’. This smaller, start-up music event was held at the in-place of Songdo where it was all the rage to have an outdoor rave in this trendy area. Unfortunately, the festival didn’t get very far and, having gotten cancelled due to extreme weather conditions, it wasn’t revived the following year. Fast-forward 7 years and a name change to Pentaport saw a similar festival mould using Songdo’s renowned events space to start up festivities again.
The name Pentaport focuses heavily on the word part ‘penta’ to symbolize the five running themes of the festival each year. Annually, the ideas of music, passion, eco-friendliness, DIY and friendship are designated returning themes to help establish familiarity to every one of its visitors. Music performed between the two stages encapsulates the rock and dance genres that the event stands for. Passion represents the people that attend who make the festival what it is every year while eco-friendliness refers to the Songdo grounds that have been specially designed and developed using recyclable materials to make Pentaport a greener festival. DIY makes the weekend your own with the camping facilities on offer for all visitors to enjoy events more comfortably and friendship within the festival communities means there will be more people to Kakao chat by the festival’s end.
Another important part of the festival’s title is the word ‘Rock’, which Pentaport has firmly held onto to as a concept over the years. A solid move forward has seen organizers veer away from western-only acts, using the platform as a way to promote domestic talent. Indeed, organizers awarded Korean rock legends Deulgukhwa the headliner slot in 2013 which was met with much positive acclaim and even garnered the event a ‘Best Festival’ accolade.
Since 2014, Pentaport has moved closer to its original venue in Songdo. New grounds at the Incheon Songdo Free Economic Zone span 106 acres of parkland, to house the largest outdoor venue in Korea. Learning from previous experiences at Triport, Pentaport now boasts an original mega-sized built-in venue with a carefully designed 3 sided panel structure to protect revelers from the natural elements.
The action continues away from the stage with a ‘contents zone’ providing a complete outdoor program. Divided into four sections, cultural activities in a Super Mix Lounge, Cool Zone, Food Zone and Camping Zone provide more festivity if needed or a relaxing space if preferred. The newer venue’s impressively sized outdoor camping area is an opportunity to get an up-close and personal experience of the festival. Of course if camping doesn’t hold any attraction, then the proximity of the grounds to local pensions and hotels makes it possible to head for some home comforts.
Accessibility is a huge part of the festival’s appeal, located near Incheon Business District Station, right in the middle of the city. Festival-goers can make the approxaimate 30km journey from Seoul quite easily without having to endure a two-hour bus ride or the need for shuttle buses. In fact, the past nine years have seen more than 500,000 visitors to Pentaport festivals at their three different venues collectively. In its biggest ever celebration this year, another 50,000 are expected to enjoy festivities with more than 100 bands performing. Don’t miss out – Incheon’s Pentaport Rock Festival hospitality awaits.
The 10th year anniversary line-up includes a mixture of bands old and new for a fascinating celebration of music. The stages have been arranged this year to include the usual main Moonlight Park stage, the Dream stage and the specially themed stage (to be announced).
The 100 invited artists are a firm mixture of classic and contemporary talent and are sure to get those energy levels rising in the heart of Songdo.
Friday sees German rockers The Scorpions fresh in from Hannover to play tracks from their 19th studio album ‘Return To Forever’. The five piece, who have changed their line up several times since their beginnings in 1965, have remained fairly steady with the current members playing together since 2005. The Scorpions, who are most famed for their timely release of ‘Wind Of Change’ which became a symbolic theme tune at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, will undoubtedly be showing their softer side with some ballads. American outfit The Used will play from latest offering ‘Imaginary Enemy’ as well as tracks from their five previous albums to showcase their many sub-genre facets of rock including post-hardcore, scream and alternative metal.
Saturday brings British rock band the Kooks. Influenced by the sounds of British pop from the 1960s, the band may initially seem out of place at Pentaport with their uplifting pop sounds. However, their often experimental albums featuring more prominent punk rifts, ska sounds, Britpop and even reggae mean the band are sometimes even likened to the Arctic Monkeys. Expect fourth album ‘Listen’ to take center stage in their performance.
Sunday closes with the mighty Prodigy for a rock/dance/pop amalgamation spanning their 25 years in the music business. Since their journey began in 1990, 6 studio albums, 25 million record sales, and only two changes to the line-up bring original members Liam Howlett, Keith Flint and Maxim to see out Pentaport’s decade of celebrations. It’s been six years between the release of ‘Invaders Must Die’ and new album ‘The Day Is My Enemy’. However with the top bill slot on the closing day, favorites from ‘Fat Of The Land’ and ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’ are a sure expectation.
Mew, who hail from Denmark, also perform from their latest album ‘+’ on the final day. The progressive, experimental rockers will play singles ‘Satellites’, ‘Water Slides’ and ‘Witness’ from their latest offering. London-based Mamas Gun, who have a huge fan-base in Asia, perform from their third album ‘Cheap Hotel’ which mixes a retro style with soul sounds to offer an alternative from the traditional rock outfits scheduled on the last day.
Aside from these acts, also look out for an amazing bill of Korean rockers. The Kim Chang Wan Band, which has made music since the 1970s, originally featured the well-known musician and actor Kim Chang Wan and his two brothers. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 2008 with the death of the younger brother, Chang Ik which led to the band’s hiatus. However, Chang Wan has since created his new band with comeback single ‘Darn It’ sure to be performed.
Seoulite Seo Taeji headlines the Saturday bill with his take on heavy metal and alternative rock. The singer, musician and songwriter has been performing since he dropped out of high school in a route which has seen him play in bands, as a solo artist and even becoming known as ‘the President of Culture’ amongst his adoring fans. Seo is also renowned for being one of the first to develop Korean pop culture in America in the 1990s and brings his latest collection ‘9th: Quiet Night’ to Incheon.
In addition to the billed program of music, Pentaport also supports local and new talent through their audition program ‘Great Rookie’. From auditions in May, thirty-two bands have been whittled down to one winner which will be showcased on one of the festival’s established stages. A competition not limited to only Korean artists, the last five years have also helped the winning bands with catapulting their careers both on and off the stage. The competition has run since the festival’s genesis in 2006 with past discoveries including Gukkasten, Jang Khia, Apolo 18, eastern Sidekick and Gogostar.