Love x Stereo performs at the Seoulsonic Showcase at SXSW on March 13. Photo via Seoulsonic Facebook page.
by JONATHAN CHA
The Seoulsonic Showcase at Icenhauer’s proved the strength and diversity of Korean music at SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Thursday night.
Smacksoft opened the show with a powerful, “post-punk” punch to the face. One of the early influencers on Korea’s indie scene that lists Bach as an important influence on their “sound that defies easy categorization,” Smacksoft jump started the festivities with Whang Bo Ryung rhythmically rattling everyone at the venue down to the tent covering the stage.
Big Phony fielded a wedding proposal and asked the crowd to buy at least four CDs in his quest for a new guitar while simultaneously charming them with his soulful songs. A definite crowd favorite, many fans traded camera phones as they snapped pictures with the singer long into the night.
Glen Check quickly transformed their set into a raucous dance party as fans grooved to the front of the stage and jumped into the air. Their flying guitars and upbeat energy inspired the crowd to chant for more when it seemed as of they had finished.
Rock and Roll Radio was true to their name, blending a style of rock from the U.K., U.S. and ROK. Deeper into the set, screaming fans began bobbing their heads to the funkier songs on their playlist, ending with “Shut Up and Dance.” The crowd, however, did not follow the song’s title, yelling vociferously while dancing vigorously.
Love X Stereo warmed the crowd with their incredible stage presence and energy. Onlookers of all ages swayed together to the dulcet echoes of “Fly Over,” even evoking one expressive fan to actually run in place. To the delight of the gathering masses, they closed with a hypnotic performance of their hometown anthem, “Soul City.”
No Brain exploded as if they had been waiting for 15 years to perform instead of holding down Korea’s punk scene since their Hongdae origins in 1996. Lee Sung Woo, the band’s vibrant lead singer, exhorted the crowd to join in on several choruses, highlighted by a random fan joining No Brain on stage to help scream their rendition of ACDCs “Highway to Hell.” Hwang Hyun Seong swapped his drum sticks for the mic for “A Glass of Soju,” even passing shots of the iconic drink to the front row. Lee joked that he took a turn on the drums for the song because he preferred makgeolli.