For some time now, I’ve been teaching at an orphanage on Saturday afternoons. One of the boys that I teach there is now a high school senior–I’ll call him Derek–and an aspiring musician. He’s really into bands like Green Day and My Chemical Romance, and he plays guitar in a band. Last Friday, his band took part in a concert along with several professional and amateur rock bands, and he invited me to go.
I was very intrigued, because rock is all but invisible in the Korean music scene dominated by K-pop sung by pretty, perky boy and girl groups. Well, now I’m glad to say that there is an indie rock scene in Korea; it’s just been underground. I was both relieved and proud to see that Derek’s band put on a lively show and showed plenty of potential. The highlight was a rousing rendition of My Chemical Romance’s “Famous Last Words,” which brought on a lot of headbanging and even some moshing from a few over-rambunctious high school students. The band also performed an original song written by Derek–decked out in mascara, by the way, and with bangs covering one eye–and it was actually quite a powerful piece of teen angst culminating with the English lines, “My fuckin’ father. My fuckin’ fatherrrrrrr.”
Aside from Derek’s band–named Maecenas after an ancient Greek patron of the arts–I was blown away by a band called the Telezombies, who according to Derek has a fairly sizable following in the Korean indie music scene. Well, with good reason, I say, because they’re far and away the best Korean nu-metal band I’ve ever seen. Okay, they’re the only Korean nu-metal band I’ve ever seen, but still, they rocked hard. Their song “Why” was a roaring blast of rap-metal, Linkin Park-esque but still original enough to keep them from being derivative, and they also performed a killer hard rock cover of–I kid you not–the Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me.” Again, it rocked, just like the rest of the night (I didn’t even mind missing Michelle Kwan!).