The weather was overcast but nary a drop of rain reigned o'er us. We were a bit late to the festivities because I am an idiot and didn't print out the directions to the venue. On the internet map, the bus station and train station were noted with the location of the festival off toward the (east? west?) left. I don't know what I was thinking,...we'd just listen for music and follow it? I guess I somehow thought festival intuition would lead us there, magic, like. Yep. I'm not too bright. Eventually we located the Ulsan Culture and Arts Center in Munhwa Park. Various bands performed at three venues - an indoor hall, an outdoor small bandshell stadium, and a stage set up on a backstreet. We must have just missed a parade, because we passed small floats parked on the street as we headed toward the street stage and the fireworks that were going off.
Parade People hello!
Some pretty Bellydancing Belles in the audience watching the show put on a show of their own, shaking their tresses and jingly hips.
I never did find out who was onstage there and we only caught the tail-end of their performance, but they were hopping. Nice brass section!
(Brass section not pictured.)
We sauntered past the various tents offering stuff for sale and a smattering of International food. A tiny smattering. There was döner kebab served in a pita, (chicken, I think) and a Vietnam stall offering pho and spring rolls,...and that was pretty much that. There were quite a few K-food stalls with quite a few K-food-people eating at them.
We headed back to the bandshell stadium and caught the end of Gipsy CZ's (from the Czech Republic)show. Very energetic and fun! Next up was David D'or, a countertenor from Israel. Man, that guy had some pipes! I actually took another friend the following night to catch him perform inside at the King Theater because I was pretty awed by his voice. Did you know Freddy Mercury was a countertenor?
*Here I'd post a picture of David D'or, but my pictures suck so hard they'd hurt your precious eyes.*
The highlight of the night, and perhaps the whole festival, was Bajofondo Tango Club, a group that hails from Argentina and Uruguay. They rocked it. Did you now they won two Oscars for the soundtracks from Brokeback Mountain and Babel? Forgive my dinky little camera's video quality, but here's a sample of the show:
And because I love you, here's another one:
You can notice a guy in the first video off to the left on the stage. A dancing guy. I loooooved him. He helped shift the instruments and equuipment between songs, and otherwise danced his head off for the entire show. He's very prominent in the second video. Again, my videos don't do the sound justice, but let me tell you it was outstanding. The crowd upfront was raring to get up and dance, but the Peanut Gallery adjosshi's and adjummas in the stadium step-seats would scream at them to "ANJA-RA!" (sit the hell down) and they actually obeyed for about the first third of the show. I'd never seen such a thing before. Toward the end of it everyone was on their feet, and there was a really wonderful vibe. Not bad at all for
If you get the chance next year, I highly recommend a visit. I think this festival may go the way of PIFF (The Pusan International Film Festival) which started out all rinky dink a number of years ago, but has since become the largest film festival in Asia. I've said already in the "Pho" post, but as Korea continues to open up it's world view, I'm sure this festival's just going to get bigger and better. Oh, and it's FREE, remember?