Not even rain could dampen this year's Seoul Jazz Festival

American trumpeter Chris Botti walks through the crowds while playing at the Seoul Jazz Festival held at Olympic Park in southern Seoul on Sunday. [PRIVATE CURVE]

Rain only made the music ring deeper in festivalgoers' hearts at the Seoul Jazz Festival.

The downpour that clouded the Korean Peninsula over the weekend did not stop music lovers from going to the Seoul Jazz Festival held from Friday to Sunday, rather, thousands of people gathered at Olympic Park in southern Seoul to listen to the likes of Justin Hurwitz Jazz, Mika, Sergio Mendes, Sigrid and many more.

The Seoul Jazz Festival is one of the largest music festivals in Korea, and was held this year for the second time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, the festival was held in a limited manner with only one fully open venue. With the pandemic having waned and social distancing completely lifted early this year, the festival was in full swing over the weekend.

Fans of the artists performing at the Seoul Jazz Festival were completely unfazed by the weather conditions on Sunday. Event organizers also seemed to have prepared for the worst, with every ticket buyer being handed a free plastic raincoat to guard themselves against the showers.

Raincoat-clad crowds enjoy live music at the Seoul Jazz Festival held at Olympic Park in southern Seoul on Sunday. [PRIVATE CURVE]

“It would have been better if it was sunny today, but I don’t mind it much,” said Park Seon-a, an office worker who had come out on Sunday to Olympic Park to enjoy the first session of the day — the Ska Jazz Unit. “I am also looking forward to the Yunseokcheol Trio and Sangji Koh Band playing later in the day. The Seoul Jazz Festival is less about jazz these days compared to the early years, but I still think the lineup is pretty good.”

The line for picking up tickets that people bought from online sites such as Interpark at the gate of the Olympic Park was so long that festival-goers complained that it took them over an hour just to get them.

The Seoul Jazz Festival started in 2007 at Sejong Center as a mainly jazz-oriented event and has since evolved into a general music festival, with the venue being moved to Olympic Park to accommodate much larger crowds inside and outside the KSPO Dome and on the grass outdoors.

Musicians such as Mika, Damien Rice and Kiha & The Faces have become frequent visitors to the festival, all appearing multiple times since the festival began, while world-famous acts including Earth, Wind & Fire and Lauryn Hill have also performed at the event.

Festivalgoers fill the KSPO Dome for rapper Beenzino's performance at the Seoul Jazz Festival held at Olympic Park in southern Seoul on Sunday. [PRIVATE CURVE]

This year's lineup included Crush, Conor Maynard, AKMU, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Epik High and Sam Kim.

Despite the weather, many sat on the grass, swaying to the live music, drinking beer and eating take-out food while listening to their favorite musicians.

"We are sorry we brought the rain from London," said singer Matt Maltese, laughing as he prepared his setlist on the stage.

“I think since this is the first time in four years that the Seoul Jazz Festival has completely opened, more people were wanting to come,” said Kim Keon-woong, a university student who had traveled from Daejeon for the event. “When I was buying tickets through online sites back in January, the early bird tickets and regular tickets both sold out so quickly I almost wasn’t able to purchase them. I hope perhaps that the festival could be expanded next year so people don’t have to worry about missing out because they can’t buy tickets.”

Despite these small drawbacks, most of the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely as the lineup for the last day of the festival featured more upbeat acts such as Beenzino and AJR. Not even the floor-length raincoats could stop people from dancing well into the night.

Irish singer Damien Rice performs at the Seoul Jazz Festival held at Olympic Park in southern Seoul on Sunday. [PRIVATE CURVE]

Sunday's last number, Damien Rice, closed off the evening with his signature melancholy but sincere songs, leaving festivalgoers with a nostalgic sense that the long weekend was over as they headed home with his last song "Blower's Daughter" (2001) still ringing in their ears.

"Everyone standing here in the rain, thank you," said Rice, during his performance. "Thank you for listening to my music. Get a nice warm shower when you go home."