Tag Archives: concert

Jason Mraz: showing me up with his Korean skills

 

Jason Mraz was in Korea for about a week and he knows way more Korean than me. Watching him make small talk with the Korean audience between songs at last month’s Rainbow Island Festival on Nami Island (Namiseom) was just the motivation I needed to kick my butt into gear and learn Korean.

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I have always loved live music, most of my paychecks in Boston went directly to paying for concert tickets and I am okay with that. I was thrilled to learn that Jason Mraz would be in Korea for a show in Busan and also headlining the Rainbow Island Festival about 1 hour from Seoul. I impulsively purchased tickets and luckily found a friend who was a fan of the man who sings ‘The Remedy’ and ‘I’m Yours’. Koreans love Jason. It is difficult to sit in any coffee shop in Korea for 20 minutes and not be serenaded by one of his romantic ballads. I even scored some ‘cool teacher’ points when I mentioned the concert to a few of my students.

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My friend and I were excited to see Jason perform but we were unsure of what to expect from the Rainbow Island experience. We headed to Nami Island early on Saturday morning by subway. I gave us plenty of travel time to account for mistakes along the way, but the transportation, as always, was simple and fool proof. The subway from Seoul took us right to the station closest to the island and then a five minute taxi ride brought us to the water’s edge where we claimed our concert tickets and were promptly ushered onto a ferry. Sometimes Koreans really impress me with their organization skills. Within minutes we were on-island each with a colorfully illustrated island map that also conveniently served as a fan. Oh Korea, you’re always thinking of everything.

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The music festival was incredible. My friend and I arrived on island in the early afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we explored the island, ate delicious food, listened to live music playing on numerous stages and collected as many festival freebies as we could: temporary tattoos, backpacks that turn into sitting mats, Vitamin waters, organic face moisturizer samples, a sound amplifier for smart phones and more! The festival booths were all interactive and provided much entertainment. Jason came on the main stage at 8pm and the Koreans went wild – they love him! It was a perfect summer night and he sang old and new songs and I was surprised that the crowd knew every song he performed. His band was fantastic and he sounded amazing live. He played for over two hours and the show was worth the hassle of waiting in line for the ferry to take us back to the mainland and the walk back to the subway station where we realized the train to Seoul was done for the night..but that’s another story for another time. Come back soon Jason…you can help me practice my Korean!

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rah rah korea – lady gaga does seoul

“I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but I’ve made it my goal to revolutionize pop music.” – Lady Gaga

korean elle

korean elle

One of my first nights in my apartment, before I had dishes, silverware or food in my fridge, I spent the night scouring Korean expat websites in search of live music shows in Seoul and surrounding areas near me – I have priorities. I love live music and can be easily persuaded to attend a show anytime, anywhere. One of the perks of living in Boston for the past 2+ years was the vast collection of shows, big and small, that were available to me. I spent a lot of money on shows – all worth it. While searching the Korean music sites, I stumbled through one calendar and was disappointed to not recognize any of the acts coming to Seoul in March and April. Then I stopped and scrolled back up the page to re-read an entry – LADY GAGA April 27th. I have seen her twice before in Boston, but I was surprised to learn that her April 27th show would be her first stop on her world-wide ‘Born This Way’ tour. So meant to be. The next day I easily convinced 2 of my friends to attend, and I immediately booked the tickets with my credit card. (proper emergency – right?)

The show was amazing – Koreans love Gaga! I was a bit nervous about getting to the show on time, it was this past Friday night in Seoul and I got out of work at 6pm and had to travel 1+ hour into Seoul to meet my friends and collect my tickets at an unfamiliar venue bombarded by thousands of crazy Gaga fans. Gaga was nervous, although for other reasons. She tweeted before her show, “Nervous for tonight. Hope I make little monsters happy and proud.”

I made it just in time and soon realized that our tickets were right in front of the stage – score! We had standing room tickets so we could move up and edge toward the stage as the show progressed. Gaga had no reason to be nervous – the Korean fans adored her, and although some of her words may have been lost in translation, they still seemed to love every minute of her entertainment.

I was unaware at the time, but I learned later that many Korean Christian groups were also present at the Seoul Olympic Stadium on Friday. They were not there to wave glow-sticks, don big blonde wigs and skimpy outfits, they were forcefully  protesting the show and calling it “pornographic” and stating that it promoted homosexuality. Gaga did not acknowledge the protesters during her show, but she did mention her disappointment in the Korean government’s recent decision to make the show an 18+ event.

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More about the Christian protesters:

(Reuters) – Christian groups in South Korea called on Friday for pop icon Lady Gaga to cancel her concert here saying it was “pornographic” and promoted homosexuality.

South Korea’s government has already bowed to public pressure and banned under-18s from attending the 26-year old’s concert, but protesters gathered outside the venue said that was not enough.

“Some people can accept this as another culture but its impact is huge beyond art and debases religions. Even adults can’t see her performance which is too homosexual and pornographic,” said Yoon Jung-hoon, a reverend who organized the “Civilians Network against the Lady Gaga Concert”. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/27/entertainment-us-ladygaga-korea-idUSBRE83Q0DC20120427)

pray away gaga

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I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Gaga is one extreme entertainer and she knows how to put on a show. For 2+ hours the entire stadium was dancing, singing and wondering what she would do next. She rode a horse around the stage in her opening scene, re-introduced the meat dress and was dunked into a meat grinder during a song, and a mechanical replica of her face flew around the stage and at one point had it out with Gaga herself. Only at a Gaga show.

The real fun came at the end of the show when herds of Koreans rushed to exit the stadium in attempts to make it to the subway before it closed for the night. I squeezed onto one of the last trains and made my way back to Uijeongbu to get a few hours of  sleep before departing for a Buddhist Temple-Stay the next morning…but that is for another post. At 9pm on Friday night I was belting out the words to ‘Born This Way’ as a sea of Koreans waved their disco sticks in the Olympic Stadium, and at 9pm on Saturday night I was tucking myself into bed on the floor of a Buddhist Temple in preparation for a 3am wake-up in the peaceful mountainside hours away from Seoul. Only in Korea.

Enjoy a few pictures from the show and also a video of her opening comments to the Korean fans. Thanks for a great show Gaga!

seoul stadium pre show

seoul stadium pre show

“I’m obsessively opposed to the typical.” – Lady Gaga

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