This is a review of day two of Citybreak, the new midsummer rock festival in Seoul. Click the link for a review of day one.
The heat only intensified on day two, which added to the fury of the first band to grace the Super Stage, Apollo 18. Their invigorating thrash metal and grizzly vocals — covered by a revolving door of three different singers — soon had a sea of bodies threshing before them. Apollo 18 owned the stage and made a lasting mark on the crowd; even if it was a bruise. Their heavy riffs, killer vocals and melodic sound wrested the collective conscious of everyone there.
Rocket from the Crypt followed later in the day. The California pop-punkers make good use of two horn players to fill out their mistakable sound. They delivered exactly what you’d expect from a bunch of men dressed in matching old western outfits: country punk and rockabilly reliability. They played the four chords I grew up listening to, the chords that keep me travelling to rock shows. It was a pleasure to hear them delivered in so solid a wall of sound, but the live show never really stood out in anyway. They were the capsule form of music: streamlined and quick to dissolve.
I left a little early and made sure I got to Japandroids on time. Their previous show in Seoul is reminisced about constantly among my cohorts, and I was awash with anticipation. The two-piece delivered in every way, despite unfortunately being given a modest forty-minute set. The guitar sound was suitably fat, more than filling the spaces left notably absent by the standard addition of a bass or second guitar. The duo showed zero pomp and got on with an energetic and crowd-pleasing show in a manner of genuine humility. Their penchant for oohs ’n’ aahs gave the audience more than enough opportunities to unite in singing along, in a way crowd-sourcing what would be the rest of the band.
Rise Against are the handsome face of modern punk, concerned with social more than political ills and forever walking the line between marketability and their maniacal early sound. Right now they seem to have both working for them, and they delivered it with the ferocity I’ve grown accustomed to at their shows. Each crash is delivered like a vital blow to your organs; every riff is knife-sharp. They’re a solid and professional act, owning the crowd’s enthusiasm as they level a blistering set. It was a pity they didn’t pull out a more diverse range of songs; those spanning their first two albums were sadly out of the list. It’s a small quibble though, and their show was every bit the kick in the face a Rise Against show should be.
Anticipation is the framework for any good show. Everyone in Jamsil that night was doing a little more than just hankering for Metallica. I stayed in the pit for two-and-a-half requisite hours to be ensured a space, and the bands half-hour delay past starting time had restless fans cheering for every sound technician who appeared on stage, no matter how fat or bald they were. Stressing every syllable in the word, eventually rock gods Metallica condescended to bestow their mighty metal benediction upon the great horde of the unwashed. Any cracks in the dam wall broke and the crowd was drenched in the ferocious attack the legends let fly. Watching Metallica is a surreal experience. They clambered and stalked around the stage, baring their teeth and like wild animals; they were truly unknowable, their divisions, their next move a mystery. The slow orchestration of their movements revealed the machine-like core to the band’s overt semblance of spontaneity. The band hit the stride they sought after, but much like watching the same wild animal for too long in the zoo, it eventually became more of the same. The middle of the set was the middling of the show, and while they kept their force consistent throughout the performance I welcomed the end rather than regretted it.
Words and photographs by Chris da Canha. Check his blog for more.