SXSW 2014: Korean and Korean American Groups Set to Perform

f(x) performed at last year’s K-pop showcase at SXSW.


A record number of Korean indie acts will have a chance to step into the spotlight at the South By Southwest 2014 Music Festival in Austin, Texas, from March 7 to March 16. But South Korea isn’t really quite known for its moody, alternative side.

In fact, Korea’s musical reputation on an international platform has not been very diverse. Homogenous dolled-up girl groups or idolized boy bands are the faces of South Korean cultural export, K-pop. But this uniformity notwithstanding, K-pop as an out-of-control, international phenomenon (which reached another level after PSY’s “Gangnam Style” in 2012) has benefited the Korean music industry and has paved the way for other Korean artists from various genre backgrounds to share their voice.


The widely popular SXSW festival recognizes the Korean talents of both the K-pop genre as well as indie rock and alternative groups. The festival will showcase 16 distinct and gifted Korean acts, from acoustic to punk rock, from well established to up-and-coming. Punk rock pioneers Crying Nut are making their first appearance at South-By and will be sure to have the crowd moshing in no time. Korean American Big Phony’s sincere sound and velvety voice will melt hearts, while EDM gods Idiotape will keep the party going all night long.

Read below for the rest of the lineup of these trailblazing Korean indie and rock bands, and pencil the names into your SXSW schedule—like their K-pop counterparts, they’re not to be missed.

1. Big Phony

Big Phony is no sham—Korean American singer-songwriter Bobby Choy is the real deal when it comes to soothing acoustic guitar tunes, often intertwined with catchy 80’s inspired sounds, and the kind of Elliot Smith-esque voice that has your heart strings tugging.


2. Glen Check

All U.S. dates have been canceled due to visa issues. Source: Glen Check FB page.

Recognized by MTV K for their boundary-pushing musical and visual experimentation, South Korean indie pop group Glen Check is making their name with electro, synth-rock, pop, and indie sounds that will keep your feet moving.

3. Jambinai

You’ve never heard rock like this before. Taking traditional Korean instruments like the haegum, piri, andgeomungo out of their usual element, Jambinai creates beautifully haunting and ominous melodies that gradually intensify into passionate, goose-bump raising metallic rock sounds.


4. Jang Kiha and the Faces

All U.S. dates have been canceled due to visa issues. Source: Booking company

Self-described as “a life boat of sanity in a sea of cookie-cutter bubblegum pop music,” Jang Kiha and the Faces bring a completely unique and fresh pop sound to the stage. Emphasizing visual aspects and spontaneity in each performance, this indie band will keep you on your toes.

5. Nell

Named after the movie Nell starring Jodie Foster, the band Nell takes eloquently written lyrics and puts it to catchy, psychedelic tunes that are considerably more profound than the typical K-pop song.

6. No Brain

No Brain is, really, a no-brainer. Originally part of Korea’s underground punk movement known as Chosun punk, the band brings raw and uninhibited punk rock vibes that will keep your head banging.

Click here to see the rest of the Korean performers at SXSW.