So I thought I would do something productive with this blog besides whining about my job. I decided that this will be my music blog. I go to see a lot of bands, so I might as well write about them. Especially when it comes to the hijinks that often happen after the shows end when we all go out…
Anywho, the first band I shall write about is my favorite band and one that I’ve been friends with for a rather long time. Phonebooth.
When I first heard Phonebooth, I had only been in Korea for about a month and a half. I had never been to a club and was absolutely shocked to see that there was a live rock club here, especially with the large quantities of pop and ballads that are pumped through loud speakers in every store. We went in to FF and Phonebooth was on the stage. It was a Wednesday night and there weren’t many people in the club, but the lead singer was jumping around and dancing like it was a packed house.
Immediately I was impressed. I made a mental note to remember their name and try to see them again. I snatched up a sticker with their Myspace address and added them as soon as I got home that evening. Thus started the following of PHonebooth. It wasn’t long before they noticed that I attended shows a lot and started inviting me to come hang out with them after the show. They then started asking me when I was coming to shows and inviting me out even when they didn’t play. And it wasn’t long after that when we all became friends.
Phonebooth started out sounding a lot like their inspiration, The Strokes and Oasis. But as they grew and matured over the year, their new music started to take on its own fresh sound. And after returning from a tour in Japan and a rock festival in Taiwan over the summer, the band’s stage presence morphed from that of a post-high school garage band, to a professional band who is out to make it big.
They have charisma. They have style. They have a fanbase. And to top if off, they are humble and never forget were they started from.
And they are versatile. They each take turns writing music and lyrics. Sometimes writing in English, sometimes writing in Korean. But each song causes everyone in the room to react, whether it’s bobbing your head, tapping your toes or all out dancing around and running into everyone around you. It’s impossible to stand still when Phonebooth takes the stage. Especially when front man Kwang Sun is jumping on top of speakers, microphone in one hand and half-smoked cigarette in the other, encouraging the crowd to sing along. It doesn’t matter if its lighthearted “Pizza Boy” or inspirational “Gotta Chance”, you move when Kwang Sun sings.
The band as a whole seems to blend together in a way that ensures success. Kwang Sun is the crazy front guy that hypes up the crowd both on and off stage. Guitar player Tae Woo backs him up and dances around, always wearing his signature black hat, black rim glasses, gotee and Converse sneakers. Off-stage, Tae Woo is funny, intelligent and not afraid to state his opinions. (Even if it is saying that tattoos are ridiculous while in the presence of someone who has one and wants another…) Quiet Jun and Sang Min dance around on the other side of the stage, playing bass and guitar. Off stage, Jun is adorable and the resident pretty boy, and can speak English quite well even though he claims he can’t. It’s been about a year and I’ve barely heard Sang Min speak one word, English or Korean, but his funny and sweet girlfriend talks enough for the both of them. Last, but certainly not least, is Min Soo on the drums. Quiet off stage, but a powerful musician on stage, it’s rare to see him without a smile or his drum sticks.
It’s like magic when they are on stage, but yet they remain normal people once they are off stage, sitting in a bar drinking soju. Yes, you’ll occasionally here them ‘talking shop’ or discussing great bands. But most of the time they talk about life outside of music. They make fun of each other and of other bands (who happen to be their best friends). And occasionally they make fun of me. (Though I often wonder who doesn’t nowadays…) They are good people and talented musicians. A nice combo.
And thus ends my post about Phonebooth. I feel like there is so much more I could say about them, but the words just won’t quite form in my head. I could tell you about the time the guys gave me a group hug when they found out my grandfather died. (Kwang Sun’s girlfriend called and told him while I was on my way home from the airport. At the time I had no idea I was going to see them that night.) The girlfriends have given their approval on…maybe two guys now. Though that’s a bit dangerous because they kept asking about the first one after I introduced the second one…
But all in all, they are wonderful and if you ever get the chance, you should see them.