Music review: LEENALCHI and 1300, OzAsia

OzAsia festival rocked on with some cool tunes from Korean and local bands.

Those who dropped into the Lucky Dumpling Market – OzAsia’s food and entertainment hub – last Friday night were lucky indeed. Korean alt-pop band LEENALCHI and Australian-Korean hip hop group 1300 had been scheduled to perform a show together at the Adelaide Convention Centre, but a venue change meant their sets were instead free for all festivalgoers at the outdoor market. Supported by solo artist LÂLKA, these musicians filled the evening with their high energy and distinctive sounds. 

LÂLKA, a Brisbane-based singer, instrumentalist and DJ who originally hails from Borneo, opened the show with her own blend of ‘effervescent glitch future club music’. While some in-ear monitor issues unfortunately impacted her vocal performance, her set was nevertheless an aesthetic spectacle and a testament to her wide-ranging musical talents. Switching between MIDI controller and violin while her vibrant self-produced visuals played behind her, LÂLKA delivered futuristic hyperpop that got the early crowd up on their feet. 

The dancing only grew more enthusiastic with the arrival of 1300 – a hip hop supergroup comprising three rappers and two producers. At once effortlessly cool and instantly likeable, they engaged the audience’s attention from the moment they bounded on stage. With all of them in constant motion, the five made good use of the space, jumping and weaving around each other and never letting the energy drop (songs such as ‘Cardio’ gave everyone a good workout). Their set included tracks from their excellent 2022 album, Foreign Language, as well as some soon-to-be-released new songs. With a recent Samsung partnership and a Triple J award-nominated music video under their belt, 1300 are an exciting new group on the rise. 

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The evening ended with a set from LEENALCHI, a band known for its unique approach to traditional storytelling. Their 2020 album Sugungga is a pop/funk reinterpretation of the beloved Korean pansori tale featuring the Dragon King, a wily rabbit, a turtle and other personified animals. The seven-piece band includes four traditional singers, whose powerfully expressive voices conveyed the excitement of the Sugungga story, while a drummer and two bassists provided an infectiously danceable rhythmic groove.

It is easy to see why recordings of their live performances went viral in Korea when first released. They have the dramatic flair of engaging storytellers, proving that their traditional material has timeless appeal. 

It was a privilege to experience this night of boundary-pushing music from young performers excited by the potential of their art. These homegrown and international acts are certainly ones to watch.

LEENALCHI and1300 played at OzAsia Festival on 7 November 2022.

Megan Koch is a writer and bookseller based in Adelaide. She studied English and Applied Linguistics at Flinders University.