SXSW Review: Jambinai, Dasom Baek


SXSW Online 2021 is unlike any edition of the festival that has ever gone before and fittingly, my start to SXSW Online was also a little out of the ordinary.

While I’d normally start off the festival by arriving in Austin, getting the lay of the land, maybe grabbing a Shiner Bock or a Lone Star and then heading off to the nearest venue, this year all I needed was just the click of a mouse to start things off. And thanks to the folks at the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation, I got things off to a good start with two short but sweet sets from Dasom Baek and Jambinai.

Starting the showcase off was Dasom Baek, whose unique sound brought together traditional Korean instruments, loops, and literally the sound of water in a bowl to produce something that was beautiful and at times almost hypnotic.

The shift in tone from the simple beauty of Dasom Baek’s performance to the much denser sonics of Jambinai was not an insignificant one, though their sounds were also complimentary and Jambinai’s set was just as beautiful in its own way. And also heavy. Oh so heavy. The band’s heavy post-rock sounds, inspired by traditional Korean music and played on a mix of standard rock band setup and traditional instruments were definitely a strong way to kick off the festivities for the afternoon.

As I’ve already mentioned, this year’s fully online edition of the festival is uncharted territory for SXSW and while there are benefits to this format (everything starts on time, solid sound mix, and the pro-shot videos mean every seat is the best seat in the house), one obvious drawback is the limitation of having all of the music sets condensed into a shorter time window, which leaves an act like Jambinai, prone to epic-sounding, sprawling compositions, at a little bit of a disadvantage. Whereas in normal SouthBy times, the band would be playing multiple sets a day to enthusiastic crowds, here they only had one shot that I don’t think even lasted 15 minutes. Still, they definitely made the most of the window of time they did have, putting on an absolutely stellar performance and for the uninitiated who were tuning in to this stream, there’s no doubt Jambinai surely made a few news fans out of some of them.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest