Entertainment - Music
On a humid night at Hongdae’s Club Freebird, I recently got to experience the high-energy sound of the recently formed band Beatniks. Much like the beat generation of the late 1940s, these guys are the underdogs: an intense, charismatic, but relatively unheard of new band hoping to create music people can get behind.
On an intensely humid and rainy Sunday in Hongdae, I met with the three members of blues-based rock ‘n’ roll band Wasted Johnny’s. We sipped iced Americanos while I delved into their aspirations, anger and their experience of playing at Ansan Rock Music Festival. Wasted Johnny’s got together after French guitarist Nils Germain came across a wanted poster on the street back in 2011. Wasted Johnny’s fiery vocalist Angie and a former member who used to play drums were looking for a bass player, and Nils was it. After their first gig, Kim Young-jin joined the group as the new drummer.
Traditional. Classic. Contemporary. These are words that are sometimes used to describe jazz, but only by those who know nothing about it. Jazz is the anthem of a generation: Its artists sought not to be a part of tradition, but to break with past styles and invent a new sound. The birth of jazz gave voice to marginalized and underground cultures.
It’s spontaneous, fluid and full of movement and life. But amid the improvisation and experimentation, jazz is also musical genre that demands great skill, dedication and discipline.
Indie punk rockers Cancertron will ignite your curiosity with their deviant lyrics and raw sound; just don’t bring your Mom to one of their shows. Lead singer and songwriter Mandi Thompson played some of Cancertron’s eccentric music to her family in New York last Christmas.
Music is both a by-product of culture and a precursor to social change. As Plato said, “Music is a moral law.” In healthy times it symbolizes the very best we have to hope for; in bad times it questions the failings of our leaders, spiritual and political. If left to form organically, a vibrant scene will emerge and great artists and bands will arise. Out of Seoul, a quiet revolution kicked off in the wake of economic and political failings in the ‘90s, which gave birth to artists like Whang Bo-ryung of SmackSoft.
Nestled next to a love motel in Jeju’s bustling City Hall district — an area packed with cars, bars and neon lights — and up a dingy flight of stairs is the Factory. It’s easy to miss the Warhol banana that marks the entrance, but attracting foot traffic is beside the point. The Factory’s clientele come by word of mouth, welcomed into a loyal circle and greeted by Oh Myoung-ae, the pleasantly enigmatic owner sitting behind the dark bar.