The concert came as day one of the Rainbow festival, and the whole thing appeared to be sponsored by the venue- Andong Science College. A large stage was set up in the middle of an oval dirt sports field, ringed with permanent cement risers, where we chose to sit, though rows of chairs were arranged in front of the stage. Most of us Andong EPIK teachers went together, including a couple that drove in from nearby small towns.
On the way in there was a medical checkpoint to take everyone's temperature and an automatic hand washing machine. As we were early, Andrew and I used the time and his new video camera to give impromptu interviews to Koreans about American trivia and their feelings about the concert, with some embarrassing but mild successes.
The festival website said the official start was 6:30, but for that first hour and a half it was mostly local or random musical entertainment. University student performers, Elementary school girls dressed as sparkling cheerleaders dancing to Ricky Martin's "She Bangs," and perhaps the most curious, belly dancers.
It was unlike any free concert I have attended; all of the headline groups (except perhaps one) had at least one song currently popular on the radio. And there were 8 of them scheduled. The groups that performed were 2NE1, 애프터스쿨 (After School), 원투 (One Two), FT아일랜드 (FT Island), LPG (Long Pretty Girls), 소리 (Sorry), 제니스 (Zenith), and XING (but not in that order). 2NE1 were the clear favorites, however, because they are one of the hottest pop groups in the country right now.
The format was different also. I am used to concerts where there is a main headliner and one to two openers, and all play for quite awhile. I was wondering how the whole thing was going to work, because the official lineup didn't start until about 8 o'clock; leaving 2 hours for all of the groups. The solution was that every group only played 3-4 songs each, which astounded me. Although this method kept the atmosphere charged up, because the bands played the top songs that everyone knew. 2NE1, who we assumed would be the last group since they were the biggest, was the 6th on, followed by After School and FT Island.
It was a ton of fun. We bought kim bap and packs of large flat crunchy rice cakes that melt in your mouth and stick to your lips from walking vendors, much like those that sell popcorn and hot dogs at sporting events. And even though we don't speak Korean most of the songs have a catchy English phrase here and there or in the chorus, which I know all the cues for, so it was no trouble singing along and dancing to the beat. There were also a few covers, including "Lady Marmalade" and Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff"- which Katie confused at first for a KPop song and announced "Oh, I've heard this one." This anomaly happens a lot after living here for awhile.
Here are a few links to the songs from the evening that I found the most exciting to hear:
2NE1: Fire (music video)
One Two: Starry Night (music video)
FT Island: I Hope (music video)
At the end of the night, me, Scott, Alice, Andrew, and Katie piled into the car of Alice's friend Casey who drove in from out of town. It was all to familiar a situation after our recent return from Daegu, but after watching the line of buses with a crushing number of passengers try to inch out of the Science College behind a line of cars, I think Casey and his car was a Godsend. We turned on his mp3 player, rolled down the windows, and played 2NE1's "Fire," dancing as a single mass in the little car. Everyone we passed got into the groove and started dancing with us from the sidewalks and cars, and even the middle aged traffic director bobbed his head and waved his orange baton to the beat. It was the perfect exit.