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An online magazine about Korean culture, food and hallyu based in Toronto, Canada

Review: K-Indie Rock Showcase at KCCUK

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The quiet before the storm…or rock gig at least!

Many apologies for the delay of this concert review! I would love to say I got swept by Korean indie rock bands and went on a voyage of sweat, loud crowds and heavy guitar amps but unfortunately my personal life isn’t that exciting and I was attacked by a horrendous cold which led to me being bed ridden for a while…anyway, where was I? Ah yes! Concert review.

And so, my epic K-Indie Rock adventure started…

Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity to see three, amazing Korean indie rock bands perform live. During my teenage years and my many music phases, I grew up with the likes of British indie music such as Coldplay, Keane, Razorlight, and Hard-Fi and when I came across the Korean indie rock scene, I found myself listening to bands like Milktea (밀크티), EasyFM and Vodka Rain (보드카 레인). Although this genre of music is continuous and alive in South Korea, there’s only small coverage of it overseas. It will take time to reach the masses but an event like this one that I attended gave the three bands exposure to UK record labels and music executives, and a chance for themselves and everyone in attendance to network with each other.

However, I came to the showcase as a fan and avid music listener. I will put my hands up now and admit that this was my first ever Korean indie rock concert! I was completely gutted that I missed the chance to see PATiENTS (페이션츠) and Dead Buttons (데드버튼즈) in London last year and it was clear that I wasn’t prepared for what was in store for me! This time round, the two groups were joined by Thirdstone (써드스톤) and what was a typically cold, rainy evening turned out to be a really fun and enjoyable experience.

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Dead Buttons

Dead Buttons

The first act of the night were Dead Buttons, a duo that consists of Jihyun Hong on guitar and Kanghee Lee. Both members supplied the vocals in their songs which at times clashed or rolled off in their fast paced tracks especially in Witch –  their music actually reminded me of a Western, Brit rock sound. The roughness with an edgy kick that nearly blew my socks off and had me bouncing around the walls of the venue; not literally because I was too scared to do anything at first, I couldn’t even bring myself to have a go of the refreshments that were supplied at the concert!

The most interesting thing that I found about this awesome twosome was that their lyrics were in English. I made sure to listen twice as hard so that I was able to sing along especially during the repetitive, catchy parts – a prime example of what I mean is in Dead Buttons’ song I Want It. I was so absorbed in their set that I completely forgot there were still two more bands to go!

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Jihyun and Kanghee rocking out in leather jackets and dark denim

One of the friendly security guards must have smelt my nerves or read the words “this is my first time” that were invisibly tattooed across my face because he ushered the rest of the attendees including myself to come forward. Kudos to him though because I was able to be a part of the first front row which was perfect for making the most of my K-indie rock concert experience!

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I am somewhere in this picture, see if you can spot a very much ‘in awe with Thirdstone’ me! Credit to Thirdstone’s official Facebook page

Thirdstone

For each band there was a brief introduction and the presenter described Thirdstone to be “psychedelic and have a Jimi Hendrix inspired sound”.

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Thirdstone (L-R) – Seongyong, Sangdo and Doosoo

Thirdstone have three members – Sangdo Park on vocals and guitar, Doosoo Hahn on bass guitar and Seongyong Ahn on drums. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch the titles of the songs that they played but I do remember the meanings/stories of two tracks that Sangdo spoke about before the band went onto play them. One, in his words was about a “beautiful woman” and the other was an ancient Korean song which Thirdstone had infused their own musical flavour into, to create their own rendition.

I wasn’t entirely sure whether I was mesmerised by the fact that all three members had their own tradition in wearing similar outfits as one another (you can check out my photos from the night to see what I mean) or by Sangdo’s intense gazes as he sang (even if he wasn’t directly looking at me…a girl can dream right?!) But Thirdstone’s performance used the method of less vocal and more instrumental. There is the saying “actions speak louder than words”, in this case it was more like “instrument playing speak louder than lyrics” and how could I ever disagree? Thirdstone were psychedelic indeed!

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Thirdstone lost in the music (in a good way!)

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PATiENTS (Jaehyuk, Sumin and Hyuckjang) featuring flashing lights

PATiENTS

The final act of the night were the PATiENTS; another trio that describes their sound as hybrid punk  with Sumin Jo on bass guitar and lead vocals, Hyuckjang Kwon on keyboard and backing vocals and Jaehyuk Lee on drums and backing vocals. It seems that they had left a good impression the last time they were in the UK because the audience had expanded in capacity and there was even one staff member that couldn’t contain her excitement and screamed her fan cheers for them out loud before PATiENTS’ performance even started!

If I rocked out to Dead Buttons, mellowed and swayed along to Thirdstone then I definitely boogied on down with PATiENTS. There is no written rule that you need a lead or rhythm guitarist in a rock band and PATiENTS are a true representation of it, especially with Hyuckjang’s powerful piano solos that were enough to slap that misconception away. My favourites from their set were 18세기, R.I.P and Idiot vs. Psycho. ATK Magazine were also very lucky to receive another opportunity to interview these guys so please stay tuned for that!

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Hyuckjang on keyboard

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Jaehyuk on drums and Sumin on vocals and bass guitar

Final thoughts

Was the concert worth the body aching, almost head whiplash and running in the rain to catch a late train home? Absolutely! I hope these three bands come to UK or anywhere in Europe for that matter again. They definitely need to be heard for their different musical styles in the indie rock genre and I would totally recommend these bands for anyone that already like rock music or those who are curious about K-indie and would like to know more about it. I’m pleased that my first K-indie rock concert experience was a success and I can’t wait for the next!

You can check out all three bands through their Facebook pages here:

P.S – Apologies for the not so great pictures, the flashing lights did not agree with my lack of photography skills either!

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