The English language promotion for this gig was about as loud as a monastery full of mute monks and so the majority of the audience seemed to be in attendance for the popular K-Indie band Kiha and the Faces. This lead to the bizarre sight of dolled-up Korean teenagers in mini skirts and bunny ears donning baffled expressions as four sixty-something foreigners took to the stage and performed music that was mostly recorded more than thirty years ago. Incongruous headgear aside, the New York art-rockers were met with an extremely warm reception by every part of the crowd’s varied demographic
Frontman Tom Verlaine looked poised and at ease throughout and immediately won over the audience with a decent stab at a ‘감사합니다’ in response to the hearty applause with which each track was bookended. A subtle light show acted as the band’s backdrop and this minimal set-up really allowed the music to speak for itself, which it did. In epic tomes. Sounding as new and as interesting as ever, the band drew the enthralled spectators in with gentle precision.
The large amount of material taken from their landmark debut Marquee Moon offered some of the high points of the show such as ‘Venus’ and the album’s title track. It would not be unreasonable to presuppose that in the numerous intervening years between the points at which this seminal act has been active, some of their magic might have dwindled but the New York four-piece still sounds fresh and their consummate musicianship stunned a captivated audience. Guitartist Jimmy Rip, looking like a benevolent Walter White in Heisenberg mode, proved repeatedly throughout the night that he has the clinical guitar shredding know-how to fill the Shaquille O’Neal-sized shoes left in 2007 by departed bandmate Richard Lloyd.
The way in which Television’s music holds up at both grimy late night gigs in New York’s legendary CBGB’s, where the band made their name, and last weekend’s show at Blue Square Samsung Card Hall in Hangangjin is a testament to it’s quality. The sweaty rock club that defined late-seventies counterculture and the sterile seated monument to consumer electronics represent binary opposites that very few bands could traverse with such grace.
Words by Mike Beech
Photography by Chris da Canha