I tell you. There’s nothing quite like discovering an artist at a live show. As you all may know, there are a few artists that I’ve missed out on because I simply didn’t know who they were. However, Zandari Festa gave me the opportunity to broaden the scope of my knowledge of all the music coming out South Korea. One of the more enlightening discoveries was 57.
Comprised of guitarist Jun and drummer Snow, the duo was arguably the loudest, most unbridled band I would see at the festival… and it was only the first day! I’m gonna cut right to the chase. 57 (pronounced o-chill) is loud. They make a big-ass noise for a couple of musicians. They are quite literally a guitar and a drum. But let me tell you, they have a sound that just snatched the breath right out of my body.
There’s nothing shy about them, nothing held back. Hell, with just a guitar and drum, it’s not like they can hide anything. Many might have forgotten the grease fire that was The White Stripes. Far be it me to compare a Korean band to one from the States (as many people are wont to do nowadays). However, it must be said, there’s no denying that same sweat and spice utterly seeps from the pores of this rocker duo.
Walking into Club FF a few minutes after their set began, I was relegated to the back for a while before making my way to the front. Upon first walking in I was stricken by just how quiet the audience was. Of course there were the requisite hoots and hollers you’d expect from anyone watching a rock band in a bar. But for the most part people just stared at the stage, various looks of shock and… was it reverence? When I think back on it, that’s all it could be.
When I finally got next to the stage and was able to see them for the powerhouses they truly are, I couldn’t think. This isn’t exaggeration for the sake of a good story. It was a complete mind wipe. First of all, even from my position near the stage, a speaker and a few microphones in my line of sight, I was utterly swept away in the fire and fury of Snow. That girl’s power is utterly terrifying. She’s a small person, a coquettish pretty thing that ought not be able to absolutely obliterate the drums the way she does.
This woman is absolutely ruthless. So overcome with her strength, the entire audience was in utter awe. Thus the relative silence when I initially walked in. It was honestly the first and only time I would see this sort of reaction from a crowd. It was eerie in just how heavy it was, that quiet. But really how could anyone speak? Snow is a force like a hurricane. If you even attempt to open your mouth, all the air will be yanked out of your body.
Then there’s Jun. Though it’s more than easy to spare all your attention for Snow and her ferocity, let me tell you something. That man is an absolute maniac on his guitar. The way he pounds away at that thing, you’d think it stole his girlfriend or owes him a large sum of money. Crass though the comparison may be, honestly it’s plain disrespectful the way he handles that instrument. He forces the sound out of the guitar. Damn near threatens the thing to get that sound out of it — a crunchy, snarling sound elevated by the way he flings it and himself around the stage when the sound either gets too good or misbehaved.
Together 57 make for one of the best examples of pure rock that I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live. In every way, they embody the essence of the genre: tough angles, rough textures, angry and hurt sounds. The twenty minutes they were on stage seemed like an injustice, like they had so much more they needed to get out. Still, they quite literally left everything on that small stage — Jun just laying the guitar on the ground and walking away at the end of the set. Every ounce of their performance was full of energy, sweat, pain, excitement. They were both the rock and the hard place. I guarantee everyone leaving that show left completely changed.