Thursday, July 22, 2010
Last weekend, I attended the Seoul Ink Bomb tattoo exhibition, headlined by the rockabilly/punk band, The Rocktigers. According to their website, the Rocktigers "offer a trend-kill to all that's wrong with the Korean music industry. Spicing up the classic rockabilly sound, the RockTigers are giving you rockabilly that's vintage and modern from Seoul: Kimchibilly". On their third studio album, the band have a faithful, small following in Korea but are gaining new fans every day. After seeing them, I unashamedly become a fan on facebook. They are more widely known and liked in Japan where rockabilly itself is more popular. Nevertheless, they provide a refreshing, alternative to the dire, manufactured k-pop prevalent here. Their throwback 50s styling is also unlike anything I have seen so far in Korea.
Velvet Gena is the charming, feisty leading lady with short, peroxide blond hair. She energetically dances and jumps around the stage in her Doc Martins much to the crowds delight. She is pretty and grungy at once, combining tattoos and prom dresses in unusual patterns. The band, with their slicked back quiffs, Chuck Taylor all-stars and numerous US navy tattoos, look like a slightly punkier version of Danny Devito and the T-birds. Wearing lots of leather, tight jeans and bowling alley shirts, Tiger, Eddie, Roy and Jack are extremely talented musicians but it was apparent they weren't taking themselves too seriously. One spun the bass, decorated in flames and leopard print, with ease.
Their rock n roll music is reminiscent of Buddy Holly or Elvis but, with Korean lyrics, sounds new and modern. At this exhibition, the Rocktigers were joined on stage by young, professional swing dancers. The girls wore pastel, floral, prom dresses with yards of netting and white plimsolls. The boys wore navy, three piece suits, bow ties, Chuck Taylors and geeky specs. The clothes were traditional but fun. Altogether, the show was quite a spectacle.
In the future, the Rocktigers aim to take their music back to its origin, the States, with a tour and album in English. With their appealing, infectious lyrics, entertaining stage presence and throwback style, they might very well succeed in this ambition and conquer Europe and the States with kimchibilly. For Korean fans, they are headlining a rockabilly night as part of the Seoul Fringe Festival. Details are listed below.
Rocktigers are definitely a band to see live. Geena's powerful voice and the boys persistent catchy riffs all point towards dancing. Their style is fun and different to other Koreans. This show promises lots of fifties and sixties fashion to enjoy again.