앤서방 reviews the second of 2016’s K-music festival gigs at Rich Mix
Each year I look forward to visits from Korean indie musicians to the UK. Starting with ska-punk rabble rousers Crying Nut’s thrilling London show in 2006, over the years we have been treated to some of the most interesting, exciting and original acts: Jang Kiha and the Faces, Winterplay, Guckkasten, Dead Buttons, Apollo 13, Jambinai, The Barberettes and many more.
This year’s K-music festival unfortunately coincided with the breaking news from Korea about blacklists, political censorship of the arts and external meddling in the affairs of the Ministry of Culture. There’s no doubt about the quality of the acts I’ve already mentioned, but these stories can lead us to wonder about the process for selecting of artists and performers we sometimes see in London. Maybe something for a separate post. But to clear my mind of political thoughts and ‘satisfy the inner moron’ (as Alice Cooper so accurately described the pleasure of a good rock gig) I made my way to Rich Mix in Shoreditch to catch the K-Music Festival double headliner of Danpyunsun & The Sailors and Asian Chairshot.
First up were Danpyunsun & The Sailors. The festival programme described them as offering ‘strange sea shanties delivered by a sweary front man’. Well, what’s not to love? For a non-electric outfit (except for bass) they kick up an incredibly raucous sound. Front man Danpyunsun thrashes at his accoustic guitar for equal measures of chords and percussion, while howling, shouting and barking the lyrics. His musical sparring partner is a fantastic violinist, who bows furiously at her instrument, giving the band its searing sonic punch.1
It was well into the set I noticed the Sailor’s drummer was not using sticks but was smashing at cymbals, tom toms, chimes and a percussion box that doubled as a stool with his hands. The band are nothing if not different. They delivered a fine, uplifting set even though, as their charming front man put it, ‘we’re f**king exhausted, in Korea it’s f**king 5am!’
Next up were Asian Chairshot. Unlike the opening act this heaviest of rock trios are completely orthodox: guitar, bass and drums, played LOUD. They have been described as ‘Black Sabbath playing Radiohead’, or maybe the other way around, and their debts to other classic rock outfits such Led Zeppelin or Thin Lizzy are apparent. Having been playing together the best part of a decade, and winning a Best Rock Band award in Korea last year, they are at the top of their musical game with no signs of mellowing. Their showboating guitarist is someone you don’t take your eyes off. When not playing his instrument hendrix-style with his teeth or waving it at the speakers to elicit screeching feedback, he frequently puts one leg on the front of stage monitor, positions the guitar upright on his knee and delivers a rock god wigging-out masterclass that no mortal could expect to follow. The lead singer and bassist provides a perfect foil, playing his instrument impossibly low to the ground, effortlessly playing skillful bass runs while and flailing around barefooted, singing in a pleasant earthy tones, shaking his long hair and getting lost in the groove. Asian Chairshot are the real deal and you can imagine this is all they ever do and they subsist only on soju and cigarettes.
So, another great gig thanks in part to ‘soft power’ ambitions of the South Korean government.
As an aside, I was delighted and encouraged to see on Youtube the first Korean indie band I saw in London, Crying Nut, performing live at the recent ‘Park Geun Hye Resign’ protest in Seoul. Damn, they still sound good!
Here’s hoping we get to hear them in London again soon – if they haven’t now been put on another Presidential blacklist…
Danpyunsun + the Sailors and Asian Chairshot performed at Rich Mix on 21 October 2016.
- Personally it’s been a blinding year for violins: following the career of the amazing British classical violinist Joo Yeon Sir…
…and finally catching one of my Youtube favourites Echae Kang live in Korea. Her recent album release ‘Radical Paradise’ (iTunes link here) is a joy from start to finish