EXPLORING KOREA - Pentaport Rock Festival

by Ethel Ang, 22/08/2012

The Pentaport Rock Festival is held annually around early August at Incheon, and it mainly features rock and electronic acts. It is considered to be one of the biggest live music events in South Korea, and what makes it stand out from other concerts is that it is held for three days, with different acts performing throughout the day and even into the wee hours of the night. This year, my friend and I were given the opportunity to attend this event, and we were really excited, as the one day pass would grant you access from 10am to 9am the following day. Despite having heard of this rock festival in the past, we had not attended it before, hence I did some background research on the event and discovered that its name came from five main themes which represented the festival – that is, music, passion, environment-friendly, DIY, and friendship. Indeed, these aspects were showcased in the event itself, as we were to discover upon arriving at the venue.

This year, the Pentaport Rock Festival was held at Geomam, and it was made easily accessible due to the airport railroad, as well as the numerous shuttle buses that were waiting outside the subway station. My friend and I headed down to the festival in the early afternoon, and upon arriving at the main entrance, one could literally feel the music pounding and the excitement of the crowd. We felt slightly overwhelmed at the start, as the area was really huge, and there were huge throngs of people running all over the area, taking photos with various signboards, queuing up at various sponsor booths to participate in games and activities, and even an outdoor pool for people to chill in when the weather became too hot to bear! It was also interesting to note how there was a crowd gathered in front of a huge television screen just so that patriotic Koreans could watch the Olympics and support their country! We decided to check out the smaller stages first, such as the Super Mix Lounge and Penta Rockers Night. Whilst we did not know much about the bands who performed, the music, crowd and atmosphere helped to make the event fun. People were jumping up and down, singing and dancing to the songs passionately. The people around us were really friendly too, as they told us who was performing and what the songs were when we approached them. We even hung out together for a bit afterwards, checking the other performances and having some snacks together from the street stalls.

Following which, we headed over to the Lakeside stage by foot, and watched a bit of the Korean acts. Although the area was smaller than what we had expected, the amount of fun that everyone seemed to have there more than made up for it. There were several temporary tattoo booths and game booths there as well. We did not manage to spend much time there, unfortunately, as we had to head back to the Pentaport Stage by 7.30pm, just in time for Ash’s performance, which was one of the two highlights of the second day. There were tents surrounding the area, as many people tended to camp there overnight, perhaps due to the location of the festival. People were relaxing and enjoying their time with their friends and families, laughing happily as they drank beers, and when Ash appeared onstage, the crowd roared, stood up, and rushed to the front! It was really fun to be a part of such an enthusiastic crowd, and although my friend and I did not really know Ash’s music prior to the festival, we really enjoyed their performances and the energy that they injected into the crowd. After which, we headed to the cocktail bar to get some drinks, before heading over to the Dream Stage where Korean rock band Crash was performing. Slightly before 10pm, we headed back to the Pentaport Stage to watch the other highlight of the second day, that is, Snow Patrol. The place was packed by then, and the crowd was even more hyped up than before. Almost everyone was shouting along with the band, and towards the end of their performance, there was an encore, and groups of people started to form a circle, hugging and dancing at the same time. It was really amazing to see how people of different nationalities with a shared passion for music come together.

My friend and I then left for home after the Snow Patrol performance, catching the last shuttle bus to the subway station as we did not plan to camp overnight. We had a really good time at the Pentaport Rock Festival, learning about the different rock bands, enjoying music, and making new friends, and I’m sure many others felt the same way as us. In fact, it was such a great experience that my friend and I intend to attend the event again next year!

About the Author: Ethel Ang is a Masters candidate from Singapore majoring in Korean Studies at Yonsei University.

Image of the band ASH  who arranged for K4E to have free tickets we gave to the winners of our free ticket draw.

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