Shin In Ryu @ Rolling Hall

It’s always fascinating stumbling into an artist blind. Those of you who know me know I have a history of coming to an artist for the first time by accident. (*cough*DEAN*cough*) This phenomenon becomes even more heightened when I cover a music festival. More acutely when I manage to get to gigs outside of the regularly scheduled festival dates.

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When a mutual friend asked me to come with her to see a show, I eagerly agreed. I didn’t know either of the bands performing. But that’s the magic part, isn’t it? Finding out about someone you might have otherwise ignored if not prompted to take a chance? Such is the case when I walk into Rolling Hall for the fifth installment of their Talks on Music series. The lineup consists of two bands: Shin In Ryu and IGLoo BaY.

Shin In Ryu is first to take the stage. I have to say, I’m always eager to support mixed bands (with both male and female members). It’s a fascinating dynamic that isn’t explored enough in music from South Korea, in my very humble opinion. So when I realize Shin In Ryu is female-fronted my interest is instantly piqued. Shin Onew, the band’s vocal leader, has such a lovely voice. Though I’m not particularly partial to the soprano voice (as a devout alto), I can’t deny that her crystalline delivery is refreshing.

Combined with the full-bodied sound of the band itself (boasting guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums), Shin In Ryu certainly has a sound that’s easy to fall in love with. Again, not a sound I’m especially partial to. However, I can’t deny that even with their more pop-focused sound they’ve got a tightness that I can only admire.

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As their setlist continues, I find myself impressed with the synergy that’s on the stage. But Onew displays such an interesting dichotomy as a performer. She does seem comfortable behind a microphone… but only when she’s singing.

Giving her time to actually interact with the audience, her shyness erupts. It’s endearing, one might even say cute. However, I can tell even from the last row it’s not something she’s comfortable with. A reluctant frontwoman, she stutters through her interactions with the crowd before her, eager to begin each song to avoid the lingering silence that comes between them. Even when she introduces a guest singer to the stage, it’s with a bit of trepidation as she’s forced to be the band’s spokesperson.

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All that considered, I still enjoy the positive energy that permeates every song. The band has a great time on stage together. They do show all the signs of a band still green in terms of their performance style. But the crowd is 100 percent behind them. Many of the audience members came just for them. The love the band receives is not without warrant. Their effervescence is absolutely contagious!


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