When Korean War ceased in 1953, formally North and South are formally at war with each other and two years military service is obligatory for all men (which does not make it any easier for the bands to survive). Country’s economy was comparable to those of the 3rd world countries. In the course of the next few decades Korea had the largest economic turnaround in world's history. There was no time for hobbies like music. People were too busy building the common wealth. In addition, Rock (not to even mention Metal music) was recognized as a rebellion against the government and as such was abandoned by radio and TV stations, it was only in early 80’s when it started to become popular and slowly gained its footprint and started coexisting with other music trends on Korean market. While K-pop enjoys support and subsidy of Korean government, mainly because it’s well marketable and easy to digest, Metal music, even though it’s true and real is alienated and fans are often ostracised.
Even though the environment for Metal is not as cosy here as in less Confucian countries, more and more internationally known groups are playing gigs in Korea, usually on their way to Japan. The difference is that a lot of them used to play for 60-80.000 fans on stadiums, here are performing in clubs for an audience of 150-200 people. The number of Korean’s own, domestic groups is growing and it seems that in such commercialized city as Seoul where K-pop stars are adored by crowds, there are young,open-minded people (like those once from the Noeasy group) forming bands and writing lyrics about suicides (Korea has one of the highest rates of suicide among students), abuse and poverty which still exist in this country.
Rodfest concert consisted of seven bands. Their artistic level varied so as the age of the performers. The audience had an opportunity to familiarize with newcomers as Satellights as well as with the veterans as Silent Eye.
TransFixion (트랜스 픽션), probably the best known Korean band for foreigners leaving in the country performed at early stages of the concert. They gave a great show. It’s always nice to listen to pure, good old rock. Boys did not let the audience down and performed the most recognized songs as Tonight or Radio. I am also sure that Hae Rang managed to steal couple hearts being charming as he is. I only wish they skip they last song, which was a Chumbawamba’s cover of I get knocked down. I would rather have listened to one more of their original songs.
After TransFixion the music got better and better.
I took my camera with me and had plans to shoot some stills. And I did, but only a few at the beginning; once Silent Eye started to play, I put my camera away and enjoyed the music. Apologies to all who thought that there will be photos of each and every band that performed that night. The bands simply rocked the stage and I had enjoyed it so much, that my metal fan side took over my blogger side. After all the first CD album I got from my then husband-to-be was the Dream Theater's Systematic Chaos and that was years ago, while the blog is only two months old. It’s easy to spot where my heart lays.
NATN gave a great trash/ heavy metal performance. Enjoyable visually (boys wearing suits!) and technically (top class voices and tunes).
Black Syndrome, one of the few Korean export bands was next and gave a truly world class performance. They can easily compete with the rest of the world’s heavy metal stage. No wonder that they albums are successfully sold in Japan, the level of artistic performance is of the best standard.
The most well-known Korean band internationally is probably Diablo (디아블로). They songs talk about the gap between the rich and poor, discrimination, school violence, bullying and other social problems of reality in Korea. Since formation in ’93, the band played as a support for such big names as Pantera and Judas Priest, slowly making their name.
This was the first time when I had an opportunity to get to live metal gig here and I have to admit that Sorrow and Nameless caused creeps on my skin.
If you are planning to visit Seoul in coming months and will have some spare time on your hands I encourage you to visit one of the Hongdae clubs where you may find good, heavy metal and rock bands playing for small groups.Clubs offer different ambience and atmosphere than football stadiums. It is an amazing opportunity to listen to good music and not be surrounded by huge crowd and security.
Rodfest 2014 took place in the MUV HALL. Very easy access from subway, line 2 & 6, Hapjeong station. If you have a Metal Heart, put Rodfest 2015 on your calendar. It’s worth to check what’s new on Korean stage!