I’ve easily been to over a hundred shows in my life. Though I won’t know when I hit the thousand mark I’m looking forward to it. That being said the three shows I went to on my week of vacation were unlike any I have been to back home. Not as much in terms of the type of music but more so because of the environment and my own vibe during the shows.

There is this interesting sensation of surrealism upon walking into a show here and being the only Caucasian in the club. I have never felt so distanced from the “scene” as I did at my first show at Sapiens 7 club in Hongdae, Seoul. Everyone is chatting casually in Korean. Then the music starts and it doesn’t matter what your native tongue is, just the appreciation for heavy music (thrash, hardcore, metal, etc.) and the vibrant bellows and shrieks of the lead singer backed by the righteous riffs, barrages of double pedals and savage, resonant bass lines of the instruments.

During the set breaks you are wrenched out of your comfort zone when the lead singer cracks jokes and tells stories in Korean. Other than his/her tone of voice, body language and the reactions of the crowd you have no idea what message is being broadcast. I caught the part where one lead singer thanked us for coming to this show instead of going to see Incubus that night at the Jisan valley Rock Festival but the rest was decidedly over my head.

Bands ranged from emo-influenced, melodic hardcore to Southern style Panteraesque metal, to a band in the vein of the Brazilian behemoths Sepultura. I befriended a German metalhead who was visiting a friend for a month and a Canadian fellow expat teacher who was the only waygook who played in any of the bands that night (bass in one of the opening acts) and accompanied them to the after party with a few of the bands at a Korean BBQ house. There is a service here where instead of taking a taxi home or drinking and driving you pay a driver to shuttle you back home in your car. I waved goodbye to a series of guttural, victorious shouts and “goodbye Nathan!”s as their van headed back to their rockin domiciles.

After this I snagged some tater tots with my new friend and fellow metalhead from Germany Ollie and his friend Karina. We had some libations and enjoyed deep-fried starchy goodness until about 4am when Ollie informed me his flight left at 9am that morning. I laughed and told him to go home and snagged a taxi back to my apartment on the other side of the behemoth waterway that is the Han river.

My next installment in this series will feature my new favorite Korean band The Rocktigers and their own unique genre of music kimchibilly. Stay tuned and as my 7 year olds say after a speech “thank you for listening!”.