Go see 아륾다운밤 (Beautiful Bombs).
Go see this fun, gloriously dopey little indie band while they’re still fun and indie. Go see them while they’re still playing in no-cover Hongdae basements and about half the crowd is their moms and the other bands on the bill and their songs are still about being rock stars and how nice their grandmothers are (really).
I went to see Beautiful Bombs for the second time last night, where they were the opening act at their own single release party, inside a club smaller than the old Berkeley Square, for those who remember such things. Korea has what must be the politest punk scene in the world, so there was none of the skeeviness that hung around the old clubs I used to go to in my Bay Area youth — the Stone, the Omni — and of course clubs these days are smoke-free and have good digital sound systems and I’m not stoned, so everything’s a lot less blurry than it was back then. But Beautiful Bombs brings some of that energy. They’ve got the tight bounce of a band that really, really likes playing together, and their lead guitarist is pretty amazing. He reminds me of Slash, which is an idiotic thing to say, but I’m saying it because I’m totally fanboy crushing over an indie club band. If I were 17 and in high school, I would put a Beautiful Bombs logo sticker on my binder, and if you mentioned it because you knew who they were, we would be friends.
There were other bands too. 아디오스오디오 (Adios Audio) is a guitar-keys-drums trio whose lead singer has a Busan twang, and they play what she called “emo-core,” which is less bad than it sounds. She has a clear, powerful voice and writes lovely melodies, and you can hear the Jaurim influence, which isn’t a bad thing. 레드닷 (Reddotts) was the rare Korean band that brought a little bit of rock-and-roll menace to the proceedings. They’ve got a dirty groove and a tiny little tatted-up bass player who’s only about as tall as her instrument, and they’re also pretty worth seeing. And ABTB, the most professional of the bunch, reminded me a lot of those late-nineties bands I never got into, like Filter and Tool and whatnot, and they were very loud, and we left after their first or second song.
But I’m all about Beautiful Bombs. Go see them while they’re still fresh and happy and playing music because they love it. Go see them before the guitarist gets poached by some older, richer, boringer band that pays better, or the singer faces reality and joins his dad’s company, or some Korean record exec convinces them to make one of those terrible OST ballads with the video that starts with a bunch of text to let you know it’ll be a terrible OST ballad. Go see them while their following is still so small that they’ll recognize you if you show up a couple times.
You’ll have fun. They’ll have fun. And what else is there, really?