It’s that time of year again where artists from all over the world converge in Hongdae for the Zandari Festa. Taking place for over four days from September 29 to October 2, Zandari Festa 2017 continues the festival’s mission to become a truly global event. With 140 acts from 25 counties, the Zandari Festa 2017 promises to bring fans and musicians together from all around the world to form new connections and share in the good time.

Taking the stage across ten different venues are some of our favorite Korean Indie Gems  — and fest alums — like  … Whatever that Means, Wasted Johnny’s, Guten Birds, Rock n Roll Radio, Victim Mentality,  and Diealright. Also participating in Zandari Festa 2017 will be international groups like Israel’s Totemo and Elis Paprika & the Black Pilgrims from Mexico.

Leading up to the Festa this weekend, we spoke with a few artists about what you can anticipate from their performances this weekend.

Nametag‘s Taek-heon sees Zandari Festa as “party where you make new friends,” and promises an escape from reality with the group’s “high energy rock n roll” set. 

You want to escape from reality right? Even if just for a minute. You want to relieve all that stress and tension don’t you? Then come and check us out at Zandari!

… Whatever That Means have become a staple of the Korean rock scene. With their 90’s punk sound, and witty banter between tracks, any set they play is a truly memorable experience. They’ve kept themselves busy over the past year since we last saw them at Zandari Festa 2016, recording a new album from which they promise to preview a few new tracks during their Zandari 2017 set. Vocalist and guitarist Jeff Moses calls Zandari “Hands down, Korea’s sickest party every year,” and is looking forward to welcoming back an old friend who will participate in their set. 

We’re really happy that our old friend Eshe is coming back to visit Korea during Zandari. She used to run a bellydance school in Hongdae and a regular show called Shake Shop where she and her students collaborated with some of Korea’s best live bands. We’re teaming up during Zandari Festa and she’ll bellydance with us for a song during our set.

ECE or Emergency Call Equipment is a Seoul-based rock quartet that combines classic garage sounds with repetitive, almost chant-like lyrics, and unanticipated instrumentation. If you’re in want of a good jam session, Guem Oh says the group’s music will “heal your mind.”

If you want to see something new, come watch us. We’ll show the universe to you. And we’re going to be big rock stars, so this is the chance for you to witness the beginning of a new history of rock
music. Don’t miss out on the opportunity!

Howaho‘s Mohho is excited to share her group’s music during the Festa, saying they’ll “set the time like a tiny comfortable table” when they play. Musicians aren’t just going to play shows and disappear after their set, either. Floating Island‘s Isle promises that after their set — which will “transport you to another place” with their “dreamy sound” — the group will be “heading out to watch other performances just like all the other fest-goers.” The Festa thrives with the energy of musicians supporting and appreciating each other’s art alongside audiences. The community spirit of the event is one of the many wonderful features that keep bands coming back each year. 

With representatives from international festivals like SXSW, Primavera Sound, Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape, Clokenflap, Exit, and Canadian Music Week, the Festa not only offers a chance for musicians to see other bands, but also the opportunity to share unique sounds with audiences outside of Hongdae. 

One artist looking to expand their audience to the Korean market is Israeli singer Totemo, who is excited to make her Korean debut at the Zandari Festa 2017. She will take the stage accompanied by Ran Jacobovitz on electronic drums and percussion and Dan Carpman on bass and keys. The group seeks to provide the “aesthetics” of their recorded tracks with the energy of a live performance. 

Our show is for music lovers who are interested in the people and the world around them, who are open-minded and open to new experiences, but still like to enjoy themselves. I feel that the show can take these individuals who’ll choose to come on a short but meaningful journey.

Coming all the way from Mexico to perform at Zandari is Elis Paprika & The Black Pilgrims, who first heard about Zandari Festa through another band, Deer. With the enthusiasm for international rock music Zandari provides, the band is looking to share a side of Mexican music that isn’t often seen by international audiences, as front woman Elis Paprika explains: 

I don’t believe there have been many Mexican acts performing in Korea, and Elis Paprika & The Black Pilgrims are a very real example of the amazing rock bands currently dominating the incredibly good independent music scene in Mexico. We don’t play what people usually think of when they think of Mexican music. There’s so much good music being performed in Mexico and we want to bring some of that to you in Korea. 

Beyond promising one of the “best rock ‘n’ roll shows you can catch at this year’s Zandari,” the group is also looking forward to making new friends, and getting to try new foods during their time in Seoul. 

With a jam-packed line up, and so many notable acts, Zandari Festa 2017 is sure to be a memorable experience. We hope some of our readers will be able to attend and uncover a few new Indie Gems of their own. You can look forward to our coverage of this year’s event, and in the meantime check out some of the highlights from last year’s Festa.

(Youtube: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. Images via Zandari Festa.)