Close to 50 students gathered in the Great Hall, also known as Cold Rice Party’s “home court,” on May 22 to watch the band perform one last time. From performing at an OIIL Senior Banquet, the International Festival, and the Lunar New Year Event, to their final concert, Cold Rice Party has made their mark at Carleton.
“What makes us unique is that we mainly don’t play English songs, but we believe in our craft and we believe that there is a certain connection that we can make with the BY CLARISSA GUZMAN Staff Writer Western audience here,” says Bonny Lee ’19. “They don’t understand what the heck we’re saying sometimes but they can groove along to the music.”
The group initially started with Lee and Ian Seong ’19, when they were sophomores.
“We bonded over Korean pop culture, it wasn’t until sophomore year that we decided we could do a musical thing together,” Lee said.
“For forming a group it was kind of like, ‘Oh you play guitar, I sing and play the piano, might as well make a group,’” said Seong.
As for the rest of the group, they came one by one at different times. Lee scouted out Nobuaki Masaki ’20 for his guitar talent. Then, Seong reached out to his brother, Chris Seong ’20 at St. Olaf, and he joined as Cold Rice Party’s beatboxer. Matthew Pan ’20 was sought out by Seong and Lee when they were neighbors in Nourse, and he became the bassist and cellist of the group. Along with the core members of the band, Vanna Figueroa ’21 played an important role as the manager and director of the group. She has helped choose songs for the band to perform.
The name, Cold Rice Party, originated from a Korean saying.
“Nobody wants cold rice. Why would you want cold rice when you can get warm rice? If you are treated as cold rice, you are swept to the side, nobody really cares about you,” said Lee. “At first it was very self-deprecating. And then I was just like ‘why don’t we switch this around and make it a celebration of the unwanted?’”
Cold Rice Party tried to push back against assumptions that people have about K-Pop and bring good Korean music to people’s radars.
“I think we made a color of our band, that kind of groovy, laid-back vibe. I think the audience likes that because I do see people vibing around.”
Cold Rice Party’s final performance featured many Carleton artists, as well as a couple of St. Olaf students.
“It’s a cumulation of everything we have been through. The crowd was energetic and lively,” said Seong. “What hit me the most was that given that it was a single concert for us, I think it was the biggest crowd turnout.”
As far as the future of Cold Rice Party goes, Lee plans to go work in China for the summer and Seong is off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a Ph.D. in mathematics. The rest of the group members will still be at Carleton for a couple more years, but it’s up to someone in the group to step up and lead the group.
“They’re negotiating right now, but it sounds like the members are willing to continue this! It’s a difficult transition because Ian and I won’t be there, which means potentially restructuring the band, but so far, the key members who are still on campus sound keen to continue the band moving forward,” said Lee.
“Bonny handles a lot of the weight, he organizes stuff and coordinates with people. Yesterday we were like ‘Okay, who’s going to pull a Bonny next year?’” said Figueroa. “There are a lot of options with where this can go.”