Galaxy Express Amazes the Crowd at SXSW 2017

As I was thinking about what to title this review, I couldn’t help but remember the three guys that I briefly talked to after the Galaxy Express set on Saturday at Barracuda Backyard at South by Southwest (SXSW or Southby to locals and longtime attendees). The three guys, in their mid to late 30s I would say, had obviously never seen Galaxy Express before and it was equally obvious that they were seriously blown away by the band. They kept repeating, several times as it’s what got my attention, “F*cking amazing! They were f*cking amazing!” And when they noticed I was paying attention to them, they asked me if I agreed. I did but since I generally don’t curse, I simply replied “Yeah, they were amazing.” But one of the guys quickly corrected me by saying, “No, they were f*cking amazing!” as he obviously felt the show required the extra adjective.

Lee JuHyun (이주현) starting the show

To put it simply, those three random guys were right. The show blew my mind and I was expecting them to be amazing. They were at the K-pop Night Out showcase the night before (review and photos coming soon). And from everything I’d heard about them in the years that I’ve reviewed their music, their live shows always rock. So it wasn’t a surprise to me. But the set on Saturday was something magical. It was the perfect way to end this year’s SXSW.

And in many ways, I’m happy that it was the last show I was covering this year as it would have set the bar high for everything that followed if it happened earlier in the festival. It was that impressive.

Park JongHyun (박종현) of Galaxy Express

The set was simply just great music played with such passion that it was impossible to not get swept up in it. I’ve been covering music for several years now and there are very few bands or artists that make me forget that I’m working, forget the need to take photos during the set, even among those that I’m a fan of but Galaxy Express did that night. The passion, the sheer expression of the music, was so captivating that it made everything else fade away. I honestly can’t remember a set I’ve enjoyed that much in a while.

Lee JuHyun (이주현) of Galaxy Express

While it may seem that I’m heaping superlatives on a show, that’s not the case. It was just that good. Sure, there was little interaction with the audience, other than introducing the band and saying thanks. They simply, and very effectively, played music. With heart, passion and so much energy that it was impossible not to get swept up and move/dance along with them. I left the show feeling energized and wishing the set was longer. And a bigger fan than I started out.

Park JongHyun (박종현) and Kim HeeKwon (김희권) of Galaxy Express

There was no one element of the show that stood out, it was more a culmination of several factors that elevated the show from amazing to a higher level. From their stage presence to how well every sound blended together – the bass, guitar and drums almost becoming one.

I will admit that while I loved the entire set, there was something very special about hearing my favourite of their songs in such an intimate setting. I don’t think I took a photo the entire time they played “Horongbul (호롱불)”. And each time I’ve listened to the song since, I’ve been brought back to that show. If you’re a fan of their music, I can’t tell you enough how much you should see Galaxy Express live. And if you’re not a fan yet, going to see them live will convert you. Go. See. Them. Live.
Lee JuHyun (이주현) of Galaxy Express finishes the set how it started

But for those of us that live in North America, it’s not always an option so listen to their music. Luckily, they’re coming out with new music this year, starting with the just released “The Way”, a powerful instrumental rock song. So check it out.

And check back soon for our interview with them.

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival. Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher.

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