The K-music showcase at Rich Mix – now a regular venue for Korean music performances – was timed to take advantage of the many acts in the UK for the various May music festivals. The gig can also be thought of as a teaser event for the K-music festival that takes place in the autumn. The main festival now focuses more on gugak and fusion performances as well as collaborations between Korean and western musicians, and this early summer showcase is a good opportunity to spread the music through the year, with a balance of genres.
The 2018 showcase featured indie bands fronted by female vocalists. Billy Carter formed the lively opening act, providing the heaviest rock of the evening. 3rd Line Butterfly closed the evening – an experienced, class act with a respectable body of work behind them. Predictably, they provided a polished, sophisticated set which lived up to expectations.
For me, though, the surprise of the evening was Gonne Choi, who was on stage second. Having listened to some of her tracks, including the ones contained in the press kit, I thought I knew what to expect: civilised modern folk-infused music with well-delivered vocals. I got that, and so much more: there was risk-taking in the vocals, which displayed a range and agility that reminded me of Nah Youn Sun; and the set included some lovely-sounding takes on traditional Korean folk songs. When I saw the poster for this event I wondered why Gonne Choi was the lead billing, when 3rd Line Butterfly are so much more established. Now I know. She was the highlight of the evening. Definitely one to watch.