PAKK Bewitches Zandari Festa @ PRISM Hall

PAKK is an entire experience. If you ever get the chance to see them for yourself, I implore… TAKE IT! They must be seen to be believed.

This is another situation in which my first experience with an artist or band is a live show. Of course, after the overwhelming insistence from our very own Jenna that we all simply must see PAKK, my expectations are high.

They met each and every one of those expectations and then some!

Coming from the emotion-laden rock of The Poles, PAKK is like a sledgehammer to the face. There’s so much fire, so much passion. It’s really almost overwhelming.

From the moment I step into PRISM Hall, there’s an earth-shattering wall of sound. They certainly don’t give you any warning. They go straight for the gut from the moment they step on stage. Honestly, I’m not sure what to expect when I walk in. Punk, yes. Certainly something a bit harder edged than the band I’d just seen. But this absolutely monstrous sound? I suppose it’s only fitting. Zandari is the festival for it. But even as I settle in for the first explosion of energy of my Zandari 2019 experience, I find myself just shy of overstimulated.

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Vocalist and guitarist Kim Dae-inn is legendary. It doesn’t take a longtime fan of the band to see that from the start. The way he handles his instrument… Okay, to be honest at first I can’t even tell what he looks like. I’m not 100 percent sure how engaged he is with the performance let alone the audience.

Hair. Just… so much hair. It’s not until he flings it around for the first time that I realize that he’s ready to explode. Indeed, his presence is understated until that music starts to take him over. Once he’s reached a zenith, I can tell from my spot on the floor, he’s just gone.

Except for the occasional quip about the band name he barely acknowledges the audience. You know what? I’m not even mad. At some point in the performance, he’s given up his entire soul to the music. We’re all just here along for the ride. We should be honored to stand this close to a man whose music has totally possessed him.

This goes equally for bassist Park Hyun-seok. While his expressions are more open (most likely a product of having less hair than his leader), he’s utterly subdued. Until the middle of the second song. Before this he barely even looks at the audience. His eyes are closed almost the entire show. The rare moments when the music stops between songs, the spell breaks and he opens his eyes just to find his next position on stage. I’m not wholly convinced he wouldn’t be able to find it without looking down, to be honest. That’s just how taken over with the moment he is.

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For what it’s worth, my attention is completely engaged with how each guitarist handles their weapon. What can I say? I’m obsessed with the way their fingers move along the strings. The meticulous pluck and go of their movements has me utterly transfixed. This, of course, allows me a bit of reprieve from the onslaught of sound. Long enough, anyway, for me to zero in on something.

Even having never heard them before, there’s a taste of something familiar in their sound. A flavor left on the tongue from my past. Then in the middle of maybe their second song, it hits me: PAKK reminds me so much of Soundgarden. The realization takes my listening to a second gear and my experience reaches an apex.

Obviously I’m not the only one who’s latched on to something significant. PAKK’s energy is contagious. The audience exists on two planes: awestriken or equally possessed. Half the audience was so taken in with the sound coming from that stage they just sat there mouths agape, some with eyes closed, nodding their heads. The other half? They’ve completely lost the plot. We’re about 30 seconds away from a full-on mosh pit before their set ends. Honestly, I could listen to them all night. But you know the saying about all good things.

In the end I walk away from PAKK’s stage completely hypnotized. Theirs is a brutal type of witchcraft. You simply can’t leave one of their shows without being spellbound.

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