The awaited episode opened with a fictitious report that Glastonbury Festival was being hosted outside of England for the first time. World famous bands were flying into Korea for the event, and Toxic from season one had become so big as to headline the event. Korea had turned into a band music frenzy. I was pretty lost on the purpose of this introduction. Top Band‘s strength lies in showing unfiltered, raw power of real bands now. I am not sure whether it was necessary for the program to frame what it hopes to help achieve in distant future.

The episode speedily highlighted how the video audition worked; a panel of musicians, critics and journalists, gathered at a venue in Hongdae to screen the submitted videos and select 99 bands. On April 9, these 99 bands gathered in the KBS studio for bracketing. On April 13, the second round began, and the current episode captured some of that 48-hour program.

The second round follows a procedure called the Triple Tournament. The bands have a drawing. Three bands that draw the identical password become one group. Only one band from the group advances to the next round. But each judge can save three bands by using Top Choice. According to this rule, 45 bands will advance to the next round and no separate competitions for pro and amateur bands will be in place.

Yoo Young-seok, Kim Do-gyun, Shin Dae-chul and Kim Kyung-ho will judge. The winning band will get one hundred million won. The episode did not mention anything about coaches who played an interesting role in season one.

This episode highlighted the first five groups.

Group 1: Guten Birds, Super Kidd and Transfixion. Zany Super Kidd gave a lively performance of “잘 살고 볼일입니다.” Guten Birds, whose female vocal had a memorable tone, performed “You in the Mirror.” Transfixion performed “Back on the Beat,” which the judges liked a lot. Transfixion advanced to the next round.

Group 2: Hakdong Station Exit no. 8, Daybreak and II Indian. Hakdong did a synth pop and rock version of “Like the Indian Doll.” Daybreak performed “Urban Life Style” and captured the judges’ heart with their keyboard and guitar playing. II Indian performed “Streets of Philadelphia,” but Shin responded that the song did not convey the band’s identity well. Daybreak advanced, but Yoo, enthralled by the band’s brisk attitude, Top Choiced Hakdong.

Group 3: Mangna Fall, Exit no. 4, and Vending Machine. Exit no. 4, made up of four blind musicians, delivered a simple but harmonious sound in “Amazing Lady.” Magna Fall got a “Wonderful!” from Yoo for their performance of “House of the Rising Sun.” Vending Machine’s “S.P.R.” was a powerful performance with a unique vocal. Magna Fall won the group tournament, but Kim Kyung-ho used Top Choice to advance Exit no. 4.

Group 4: Rose Motel, Butterfly Flavor (나비맛) and A Clockwork Orange. Rose Motel’s funny and wry demeanor was also evident in their song that made a good use of a dialect to create rhymes in “Bong-sook” (봉숙이). Butterfly Flavor sounded like they had combined traditional Korean music into their “Looking for you” (당신을 찾습니다) whose lyrics were praised by the judges. A Clockwork Orange’s psychedelic performance of “Ash” was also liked by the judges. But it was Rose Motel who advanced.

Group 5: Siberian Husky, Yeri Band and Frenzy. Siberian Husky performed “Don Fantasy.” The segment briefly highlighted the band’s loss of two drummers. The charismatic and poignant vocal was received with enthusiasm. Yeri Band’s Super Star K3 fiasco was also briefly covered prior to the band’s performance of Sinawi’s “들리는 노래.” Frenzy’s “소멸하는 밤 part 2” began strong, but the judges decided against it. Yeri Band advanced, but Shin Top Choiced Siberian Husky.

The episode closed with a preview: Pia and Yoo’s walking away from the judging panel.

Although the episode did not brim with the energy or charisma that had fueled season one’s later episodes, it made a good beginning. Siberian Husky was memorable. Butterfly Flavor’s song was beautiful. There was no doubt that bands like Daybreak, Super Kidd and Transfixion were experienced musicians. I had heard from a music critic on radio two-three years ago that he was keeping an eye out for an upcoming band called Daybreak who was a group of very competent musicians.

Amateur bands did not shine as much as the pros, however. 10 Asia published a short review of the episode, and reader responses indicate that while the opportunity for deserving indie bands to gain attention is exciting, it should not curtail the raw and fresh energy of amateur bands who had made season one so unforgettable.

The next episode is scheduled to air on May 12.

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