The unusually young demographic of the audience, Rolling Hall’s no smoking policy and guitarist Randy Randall’s refusal of a free shot of vodka (offered up to him by one generous fan) echoed the all ages, alcohol and drug-free ethos of Downtown Los Angeles venue, The Smell, where No Age played their first shows. No wonder, then, that Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunt looked so at home in the subterranean Hongdae club. Taking to the stage well after midnight, the duo immediately enthralled the crowd of Seoulites fervently thirsting for a rare taste of the group’s consummate West Coast-noise rock. Seemingly both band and audience grasped the rarity of a gig such as this on the Korean peninsula and the atmosphere remained appropriately elated throughout.
After a static few opening seconds, in which you could palpably feel the muted excitement of the crowd, the tension boiled over and people erupted into a post-punk-induced frenzy that lasted for the duration of the night. Not only did this add an appropriately sweaty urgency to proceedings but it also offered the chance to experience first hand that rarest of beasts, the Korean mosh pit. A facet of rock music long-missing from the music scene in this country. Its absence was perhaps best reflected in the ineptitude of the various audience members’ efforts at stage dives that were so poorly executed they resembled blindfolded baby cows attempting a Kilnsmann celebration on an ice rink. Fumbled bovine acrobatics aside, this is the most I have ever seen a crowd enjoy a gig in Korea with perhaps the exception of Caribou back in 2010.
Drawing largely on their most recent album, Everything In Between, as well as their 2008 effort Nouns, No Age tore through a tight set list that saw Spunt hitting the drums with the kind of pneumatic precision usually only reserved for power tools and piston engines. Too many bands with elements of punk in their sound sacrifice musical tightness in their live sets in order to perform what have now become almost ‘traditional’ postures within the genre. Randall and Spunt, however, have no such affectations and they seemed keen to make sure everyone was having a good time every step of the way. For a band somewhat adequately described as more ‘soundwriters’ than songwriters by The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano, No Age sure have a lot of hooks. Better known tunes such as Glitter and Teen Creeps had sweat-drenched onlookers screaming along to every word and as punters bustled out after the encore there was a tangible sense of deep satisfaction with the night.
If it is true that this is to be one of the last foreign acts the SuperColorSuper team will be bringing to Korean shores it will be a huge blow to the growing live music scene in this country.