Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead?

I’ve been holed up in another part of the city for the past few weeks teaching classes to teachers from Seoul’s middle and high schools. In the 3 weeks we covered a lot of topics and subjects. It’s hard to keep the conversation away from anything controversial and somewhat ‘unsavoury’, but experience has taught me how to keep things light, fresh, interesting and more inportantly relevant.

I’ve used a lot of articles from the Korean press translated into English, as well as a wide-range of English language articles from a variety of publications that seemed to give the students a bit of food for thought. As the weeks passed I kept a few things aside for the purposes of this blog (and most of these were not used in class).  It’s just a few things I had to get off my chest.

If you’ve ever picked up Groove magazine in Seoul (or other parts of the peninsula) you’d maybe think that it was 1976. Every month there are the same old, tired articles which only seem to feature local punk bands. Let me put it this way. If you’d only been in the country say 6 months or so, you’d be thinking to yourself “is that it?”. Are there any other bands out there? If you have any copies lying around, check out the front covers as to who’s being ‘featured’. Or take a look inside and check out the band(s). It’s not exactly an extensive list.

I have no problem with punk bands, the punk ‘movement’ (free Hongdae park gigs etc which is great in theory but prefers not to include musicians from other ‘scenes’ in their shows), or indeed punk music (I still think that ‘Holidays In The Sun’ – from The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks LP is one of the best opening album tracks I’ve heard), but why the same old same old in almost every single issue? It’s great that there’s a platform here in Seoul for bands to play whatever they are inspired or influenced by, and more importantly, a wide choice of venues for them to play in. But I’d like to see a bit more depth in who’s featured.

Yes, there are other articles about other bands, both Korean and Expat. Yes, there are features on ‘SUPERCOLORSUPER’ and all the ‘hipster’ bands the bring to Korea (none of whom I’ve ever heard of, but that’s probably me not being ‘hip’). Yes, we get to read about a variety of live venues, but I still find it all a bit uninspiring and unimaginative.

There are never any live reviews (I don’t mean SCS which appears from time to time as you pay around $50 per ticket) from local bands. I’d like to read what a reviewer thinks of a show rather than some cliched lines from a profile ” ***** has played in bands since he first learned to play bass.” (from Groove’s Feb 2011 issue)

There’s never a list (easier to do online than in print probably)  as to who’s playing where and when, in and around the city. The layout in the magazine is awful. For example, this month page 26 you have a band profile, page 28-29 a museum review, page 30 a club/venue review. A lot of thought went into that? Why not put all the relevant parts together?

I feel that the magazine could do  a better job covering music, musicians, bands and the local live music scene in Korea. It’s nothing personal. I think that there’s a lot more that could be done than is currently on offer. If they are struggling to cover local bands, why not go out and see more shows? Network? Take a trip to Kwangju (or elsewhere) and see what’s going on there? There’s a plethora of things that could be incorporated but probably won’t be.

There’s always next month…



Author: From a Late Night Train

Teacher. Musician. Ponderer. Had lived in Seoul, South Korea since 2000. Moved back to Glasgow, Scotland in May 2017.

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