There’s no doubt in my mind the best way to discover a new artist is through a live performance. Such was the case when I was introduced to band IGLoo BaY. Though I’d vaguely heard about the band in passing, I’d never really followed up on the few whispers. What I did hear from them prior to the gig didn’t strike me as more than typical “indie” fare. The kind of music most local bands specialize in with very little variation.
As chance would have it, a mutual friend of mine wanted to link up and suggested we go to the band’s show at Rolling Hall in Hongdae. Turns out she’s a huge fan of IGLoo BaY and has been following them for quite some time. Through a two-year hiatus and a lineup change, she’s been along for the ride. Needless to say when I found out about their history, my expectations went up just a bit.
Now, the thing one should know about Rolling Hall is it’s not a big venue. In fact, most of the performance spaces in Hongdae are little more than bars with stages in the back. Basic sound systems that are scratchy at best but get the job done. Rolling Hall’s setup, while more sophisticated than most in the area, is still relatively small, considering the bands I’ve seen there have such a large sound. (I saw Rock N’ Seoul favorite Victim Mentality perform there during Zandari Festa last year. Now theirs is a show that definitely requires a big space.)
I’m certainly surprised when I walk in and realize just how compact the venue is. Firstly, the show is sitting-room only. There are about five rows of eight to ten folding chairs on either side of the stage. Just enough room in the middle for those trying to get to their seats. As with a few of the venues in Hongdae, the band stands behind a retractable screen before their set starts. Usually, they take that moment to do a few seconds’ worth of a sound check before launching into their set.
The boys of IGLoo BaY have no such qualms. When they hit the stage, they’re absolutely aching to begin. I came in with few expectations. I was handed the exact weight and mass of my ass back to me!
Let me tell you something, when lead vocalist/guitarist Seung-min gets going… watch your damn head! That young man is so full of fire it’s a wonder he makes it out of bed in the morning without scorching his sheets! As soon as the first song starts I’m completely transfixed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a young guitarist with that much passion. A fervor for the music so aggressive his entire being transforms when he hits the stage.
Though I’m not familiar with the discography, something about the way IGLoo BaY play, the way they each attack their instruments, endears them to me. I could go on and on about how precise their musicianship is. Wax poetic about the use of lighting to highlight each member, in particular Seung-min.
However, what sells me on the band itself is the chemistry between each member. The way they feed off each other — the bass taking cues from the guitar, the guitar soaring to more ecstatic highs with the drums, all three convening in the center to reach an apex of sonic bliss. It’s intoxicating. Never mind the intrepid leader has a penchant for blues-tinged rock when the music really gets good to him.
I can honestly say this was the biggest surprise of my trip to South Korea thus far. If all the bands manage to elevate to this level of near-orgasmic ascension, it’s going to be a very interesting month here for me. I best secure my underwear drawer….