Monday, 21 April 2014

Rodfest 2014: A Peek Into Hongdae's Rock Scene

The last time I watched a rock concert was on September 2011 at Seoul's Olympic Park when my friend Cathy invited me to join her. Being a reporter for a national daily, she had press tickets to Linkin Park. That night, Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist of the band, blew everyone away with his range and screams.

          (The guitarist of Silent Y wears a skirt and stockings)

But tonight, I ventured into a smaller venue in the Hongdae area of Seoul. Hongdae is known for its club culture where independent musicians perform in bars, clubs, cafes or even on the park, sharing their art with passers-by and fans. And on the last Friday of every month, the 'Club Day' event is held where one can enter multiple clubs in the area with one single ticket purchase, and that's from 9PM until 6AM the next day. 

At Yes24 MUV Hall, which is just a few minutes from Hapjeong Station's Exit 3, Rodfest 2014 celebrated Korea's rock culture by gathering the most popular Korean rock bands: Black Syndrome, NATY, Transfixion, Diablo, Silent Y, Noeazy and the Power Up Project winner, Satellights.

Honestly, I know little about the rock scene in Korea, but luckily, that night at the concert, I was able to chat with Satellights' guitarist Sungwan Bae, drummer Jaehoon Lee (who wasn't able to join the band as he was serving in the military) and Mingeun Song, the vocalist of another rock band, Monday Until Now, Gone - MUNG. Their bands usually perform around the Hongdae area. I learned a few things about Korea's indie rock bands, which made me decide that I should write more about this genre. A million blogs have already written about the K-pop music; it's time to write about another kind of music. As I watched the bands perform, I told Sungwan that rock artists and musicians are the real performers. Every time they were on stage, they gave their all: their vocals were all stretched, their strings and percussions truly expressed their personalities, their connection with the audience very intense and their music was truly their own. Although my eardrums were hammered that night, all the screaming, very loud drumming and intense power chorus on the electric guitar were all rock education for me.

              (Diablo fans running around the hall)

And as I expected, these rockers always had a huge female following, which reminded me of rock singers marrying those gorgeous supermodels: Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova; Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter; Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall; and David Bowie and Iman, are a few I could remember. Although I didn't spot any supermodel in the crowd, those girls were just as devoted to their favorite rockers as everyone else. One female fan gave a towel to the sleeveless-shirt-wearing guitarist of Diablo, who then wiped his face and neck with it. But before throwing it back to the fan, there was one more surface he wiped the towel with: his left armpit. Eeew! :-) That towel must now be a prized possession: a thick fabric with her favorite musician's sweat, tears and well, a few other scents! Ha-ha-ha!

                                (Jang Hak of Diablo)
I guess Diablo was the more popular among the bands as the fans in the crowd suddenly reacted to each of their song by running around the free space and chest bumping. I guess headbanging wasn't enough. Their running around in circles was as if on cue with the first bar of the rock song started. I would have joined them had I not run for two hours on the tennis courts that morning. Or had I wanted to go home dizzy. Ha-ha-ha!

As I walked around the Yes24 MUV Hall area before I headed home, the restaurants, cafes and bars were just getting crowded. Typical Hongdae on a weekend. I knew that already. But what I wanted to know more was the independent rock culture of the area, which made me think, maybe a few more rock concerts would add to my continuing education on rock music.

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