Entertainment

Scenes From South Korea's 2022 Pentaport Rock Festival

Sweat, tears, and rock ‘n’ roll at the storied Incheon music festival.

by Abi Raymaker

Heat, moshing, and plenty of rock ‘n’ roll. These were the three guarantees awaiting eager attendees when they arrived at Pentaport Rock Festival in Incheon, South Korea this past weekend. After two years of virtual events, the country’s longstanding and storied rock music festival made its long-awaited return from August 5-7 with an overwhelming and palpable sense of homecoming in the air. Across its three raucous days, fans and rock-heads of all ages and backgrounds (including BTS’ leader RM, who was spied wearing a mask as an audience member) converged onto the festival’s leafy and verdant grounds to take in this year’s electric slate of artists which included domestic acts like Suwoojunga, Se So Neon, Balming Tiger, and international sensations like Japanese Breakfast and Vampire Weekend.

In the audience, there was no shortage of sweat, tears, and ecstatic smiles from attendees who’d waited years for its return, as well as lots of moshing, a balm against the skyrocketing temps. NYLON sent writer and photographer Abi Raymaker to capture the scene and thoughts of the people and performing artists who were in attendance. Here is what she found.

James, 23 (attendee): “Shout out to shoegaze, suchoon, and summer! This is my first festival in Korea and I just wanted to come to see the vibes. So far, so good. It’s been tame today because it’s so hot. But it was fun moshing to Hyodo and Bass!”

Jihoo, 30 (attendee): “I’ve been to Pentaport since 2018 and I always really loved it. I came here for Sunwoojunga and Crying Nut, but lines are so long this year…”
Hyodo and Bass (Artists): “If you Google ‘Korean rock festival,’ Pentaport is what comes up. It has a history, people know about it, it’s HOT, and it rains. And it’s in Incheon. That’s what I heard.”
Japanese Breakfast (artist): “This is the first time I’ve played a festival in Korea and the first time I’m singing in Korean live. I’m very nervous. I always hoped I could play a festival in Korea, and I really enjoyed CHS and am looking forward to Se So Neon.”
Soonja, 74 (attendee): “I told my son about this festival but he wouldn’t come. He’s no fun. So I came alone! It’s great!”
Jannabi (artist): “I think of Pentaport as the ‘hometown’ of the Korean festival… We met again after 3 years in this ‘hometown’ of sorts to share that same warm and enduring spirit!”
Joel, 29, Hyun Suk, 20 (attendees): “I’m in Korea for an extended visit and I like festivals so I thought I’d come check it out. We actually met at a language program here. So excited about Japanese Breakfast and all the great bands. - Joel
Lang Lee (artist): “I usually play at a lot of demonstrations, so playing to a more normal concert crowd was a really special experience. Usually, I perform in front of an angry or sad audience. These people looked so chill and happy.”
Lee Seung Yoon (artist): “I felt like the real stage was the lawn where the crowd stood… Seeing all the energy and excitement, I felt like I was one with the audience.”
Jaesun, 31 (attendee): “I’ve come to this festival often, maybe five or six times. Today is so hot, but I’m excited to see Mogwai.”
Meaningful Stone (artist): “I was looking forward to the forecasted rain, because my biggest song is called ‘Dancing in the Rain.’ It didn’t rain, but people were dancing like crazy, so I guess we didn’t need it!”
Balming Tiger (artist): “This summer, we were hotter than the sun!”
The Lims, 32 (attendees): “We are most excited to see Tahiti 80! We also usually go to Busan Rock Festival and as soon as Covid-19 restrictions were lowered we wanted to go to a festival right away.”
Phum Viphurit (artist): “It’s what you dream of as an artist to play to an audience like this. Everyone here has so much energy, even during the slower songs people were moshing — people don’t usually mosh to my music!”
Sunwoojunga (artist): “I’ve played at Pentaport about three times now. I used to go to many rock festivals when I was in high school — I had face piercings, loved moshing, loved that energy. I wanted to become that kind of musician, so whenever I play live, I try to capture that energy, like lighting a fire…”
Soeun, 25 (attendee): “I told my 16-year-old self ten years ago that I’d come to Pentaport someday. I had forgotten about it for a while but look, I’m here now at Pentaport!”
Say Sue Me (artist): “Even though our songs are slow, the audience danced. Our hearts brightened seeing that. It was so nice to be together under the wide summer sky and become one through music again…”
Silica Gel (artist): “We’ve been to Pentaport twice before. Jisan [Rock Festival] and Pentaport were the two big festivals, but now that Jisan is gone, Pentaport has been the festival we wanted to play the most. When we went on that stage for the first time in a long time, we could feel it was special…”
Onewoo, 31 (attendee): “I couldn’t stop crying. I always imagined coming to Pentaport as an artist. It finally came true, but it’s a little different than what I imagined.”
The Volunteers (artist): “We’ve been to this festival since we were young, and this year it was our first in-person rock festival as a band. It was so good to see the audience exploding with all the energy they had kept pent up during Covid!”
Jae, 27 (attendee): “I came to watch TRPP but the others were so perfect too. After 3 years without a festival, Pentaport was like a sweet fantasy to me!”
TRPP (artist): “This is our first rock festival as a band. Next year we want to bring some new members: maybe one or two AC units…”

Se So Neon (artist): “Pentaport 2022 is over… We feel like we were born again. Are we really rock stars? See you all next time!”
Hansaem, 29 (attendee): “I wanna borrow this [line] from Idiotape: ‘This is rock ‘n’ roll!!!’”

Photography and quotes by Abi Raymaker.