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What's Inside the Eclectic Sets of Coracle Music Festival's 2nd Edition?

Perfect weather, a beautiful setting and great acts — what more do you need from a music festival?

Last weekend, the second Coracle Music Festival took place in Ho Coc, just north of Ho Tram. The event brought together a wide range of music, from garage rock and punk to techno and ska, with a high-energy drag show included as well.

I was out of town at the time of the first Coracle in 2018, so I can't compare the two, but this edition was an excellent event. The oceanfront setting made for a great break from the traffic and smog of Saigon, with a stiff breeze making sure attendees weren't too hot, even in the middle of the afternoon.

Sunset at Coracle. Photo by Michael Tatarski.

While this meant the water was too rough for swimming, there was plenty of space to relax in between sets, and even a fair amount of grass — that heavenly manna so often off-limits in the city — to sit on. A number of food and craft beer vendors made the journey from Saigon as well, so there was always plenty to eat and drink.

Of course, this being a music festival, the stages were the focal point, and the Coracle booking team, led by Damien Kilroy of the erstwhile Loud Minority shows at Cargo, did an amazing job with limited resources.

Across Friday and Saturday nights, we were treated to an eclectic mix of international and Vietnam-based (both expat and Vietnamese) acts. I wasn't able to catch all of them, but below are some of the highlights.

Lydmor, the Danish singer who describes her genre as "post-feminist youth-solo-electronica-singer-songwriter-chill-out beat-music," put on a captivating performance. That genre is a mouthful, to put it mildly, so I'll simplify it by saying she's extremely talented and clearly was having fun.

Lydmor during her electrifying set. Photo by Khooa Nguyen.

With reflective tape haphazardly etched across her body, she danced around the stage through the faster songs, sat down for the slower ones, and went into the crowd a couple of times. Definitely add her to your list of must-see musicians.

Later in the evening, King Khan & BBQ Show presented a slightly different image. The seasoned duo of profane middle-aged men stormed through their set of often-comical garage rock songs with gleeful abandon, interrupting the music at times with off-the-wall banter. The contrast between the pair and Lydmor highlighted just how diverse the music at Coracle was.

King Khan & BBQ Show getting weird. Photo by Khooa Nguyen.

Around midnight, Genderfunk took the DJ stage for a typically rousing performance featuring a drag queen visiting from the US, as well as three Vietnamese queens who worked Grab, GoViet and Uber jackets into their routine. The magnetic acts even attracted a security guard from somewhere, who was taking pictures on his phone with a huge smile.

On Saturday evening, the live stage kicked off with The Kanonos and Skeleton Goode, both Saigon-based bands composed of musicians who have called the city home for years and been involved in numerous projects. 

The Kanonos' up-tempo garage rock called to mind the King Khan show from the previous night, though with considerably less in-your-face weirdness.

Skeleton Goode, meanwhile, dove into their recently-released first album for their set, and I thought they really blew the doors off the place (though there were no doors, seeing as we were outside under the stars). If those two bands are a sign of the evolution of Saigon's live music, we're in good hands.

Skeleton Goode rocking out. Photo by Khooa Nguyen.

My personal festival experience began to wind down after that since, to quote Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, "I'm getting too old for this shit." However, plenty of people stayed up well into the night as acts like Levi and Fleetmac Wood anchored the DJ stage.

With a third edition already in the works, it appears that Coracle is deservedly becoming a yearly staple on Vietnam's (admittedly tiny) music festival map. My only hope for next year is that more Saigoneers make the effort of taking the two-hour trip for a weekend of fresh air and world-class music. 

Ca Hoi Hoang, Vietnam's indie rock darlings, headlining on Saturday night. Photo by Khooa Nguyen.

Saigoneer is a media sponsor of Coracle Music Festival.