Autumn Vacation is a Korean independent band formed in 2009 with Gyepy and Bobby Chung, vocalists from Broccoli You Too and Sister’s Barbershop, respectively. Bobby Chung writes the songs and performs the guitar for Autumn Vacation while Gyepy provides the vocals. Their first album, released last October, was an instant hit in the independent music community. Six months later, upon releasing a single album, Autumn Vacation hosted their largest concert yet from April 22 to 24 at Munhwa Ilbo Hall in Seoul.
The concert started off with guest performers called Rocket Tree, a newly formed band. Their first song, “I Am Sorry,” humorously addressed the situation where the guest performers kept the audience waiting for the main one. Despite a new face in the independent music scene, Rocket Tree made a positive debut to an audience of avid independent music lovers. Rocket Tree is also expected to perform in Green Plugged Seoul 2011, a two-day, international festival to promote environmentalism. Their other song, “Beautiful Seasons,” provided a charming prelude to this event.
Autumn Vacation appeared about 20 minutes into the show, performed their first batch of songs and introduced its members to the audience. As most of their songs are quiet and meditative in nature, keeping the performance lively and entertained was not an easy feat to accomplish. In between the songs, Bobby Chung and Gyepy made humorous comments to keep the audience entertained. Furthermore, several guests were chosen to switch seats with Gyepy and Bobby during the performance. After the concert, Autumn Vacation also offered signatures to those who wanted them.
In a nutshell, Autumn Vacation is not known for their singing ability. The majority of their songs are composed of simple melodies and down-to-earth use of instruments. Gyepy, the main vocalist, is not famous for being a “good” singer per se. The true appeals of Autumn Vacation are Bobby Chung’s lyrics and Gyepy’s detached, pensive voice singing them. The veteran performers have harmonized both their strengths and weaknesses to provide a package that any independent music enthusiast would enjoy without hesitation.
The lyrics of Autumn Vacation’s songs were always subject to much discussion. Perhaps the most important aspect of the lyrics is that they usually tell a story or a narrative. They allow the listeners to only seek out and embrace fiction. Moreover, its lyrics also induce the listeners to lucidly reminisce over memories that only exist in the songs. Only in Autumn Vacation’s songs do the past of a fictional individual become the listener’s clearest memory. Autumn Vacation taps into our deepest memories and induces a lucid sense of reminiscence and sentimentality from their lyrics. Bobby Chung demonstrates his decade-long experience of songwriting in Autumn Vacation’s songs.
In the song “Autumn Vacation,” which is my personal favourite, Gyepy sings about a boy whose favourite season was autumn when he was a child. The boy admits that he was always sad because autumn was the only season without a vacation. Even after he grows up and autumn no longer remains as his favourite season, he still looks up in the clear autumn sky, believing that something good will happen. Gyepy sings that all she wanted to do from the first day they met was to make him happy, never to leave him alone again. Gyepy ends this song by saying that no one can get everything in life, and even if one does, one may have to give up something even more cherishable.
The beauty of Autumn Vacation’s songwriting is that it makes the mind digress into different tangents. Each and every one of the narratives of the 14 songs has an engaging and creative story. Each song has a different meaning to different people, tapping into different parts of peoples’ memories. Yet the lyrics speak of a past long forgotten, a story forever untold and a future yet to be written. Its captivating power that conjures up memories from the deepest parts of our lives is the true power of Autumn Vacation’s lyrics.
Manned with experienced singers and songwriters, Autumn Vacation seem to have boundless potential at the moment. Their fans are diverse and their music is relatively approachable to those who are new to the indie genre. They are also one of the few independent bands to receive media attention from large broadcasting companies. However, it is up to the members of Autumn Vacation to maintain a balance between their unique style of music and the general norm of the Korean music industry. Many independent bands and groups, namely Nell and Broccoli You Too, have also faced this crossroad and Autumn Vacation will without a doubt have to make this tough call also in the near future.