MC Club Rocks Chonnam Humun, Saturday April 23, 2011

MC Club put on a very good rock and roll show with Harp, the Deserts and Feed the Boats rocking the Rathskeller-styled underground concrete venue, for smoke-filled, beer lubed rockers aged 15 to 60. The bands were good and got better, as the night went on, each drawing its own crowd, each filling the ears of KPOP-weary westerners and punk-loving Gwangjuvians alike.

Harp started things off with a precision that sparkled past the fact they’ve only been together for four months, and the brand-new drummer (Jang Ick-Tae) who is 15, yes 15 years old pounded out rock-tight beats, which bassist Chung, Haeng Rang augmented with tight patterns and occasional improvisations.  This rhythm section bookended the age spectrum, while keyboard player Lee Eu Jin (it was easy to tell she is a former music major at Honnam Sinan University) flew up and down arpeggios so well, at first I thought she just punched the arpeggios switch on her synthesizer (lie the Who did for Baba O’Reilly), but, NO, she played them out.  A slight case of nerves and tuning dilemmas was quickly dispelled, and the dancers smashed through to the front to enjoy the set.

Harp’s rocking English-language songs got the crowd started, and then The Deserts (as in Gobi and Sahara, not Tiramisu and Baked Alaska) moved the tempo up a notch with a tight mix of originals, including one tasty number called “Sunrise” which was like Radiohead meets the Cure and Pink Floyd and they go out drinking with the Clash.  After six or seven rounds they write a song and transfer it through the brain-trust of the Deserts, and “Presto” it appears in yes, Gwangju, at a (MC) club that is new to the Humun scene.  MC’s first attempt to move from Spin/Dance nights to rock, SUCCEEDED.  On nights with no DJ or live music you can drink in peace there, far away from the drunken giggling that pervades the beer, chicken and soju joints in Humun.  Of course Hip Hop spin made up the second half of this show…thus keeping the kids moving a long time.  I missed this part of the show.

The Deserts are Andrew Vlasblom (Keyboards, backing vocals); Kenny Megan (rhythm guitar and stunt guitar; Matt Laplant (bass); Michael Paul (lead guitar and vocals); Ramsey Kyles (drums).  There were well-rehearsed, and able to mix styles fluently, while keeping the house rocking.  When they broke into jams all members except Vlasblom were in head-banger dance moves (you don’t want your keyboard player to dance too much any, right?) and it’s been a while since such a fun night was available for “those who like to rock… (AC/DC) we salute you.”  In fact, Paul was not playing a GT, the same guitar Angus Young made famous.   Wikipedia claims Back in Black is the number one selling album by any band.  I think they meant any band from Australia, but I may be wrong. 

One key to the MC Club  night was a mix of great music and no cover charge.  Word of mouth was decent about this show, and if the owners can find the talent, then this place could easily become another venue for live rock.  A stage should be considered, but NOT before the club reduces the amount of space behind its bar by 50-75%.  I was only a bartender for three years, back in my university days, and I only toured the east coast as a bass player and back up singer for 15 years, but I can safely say I NEVER saw a joint with too much room behind the bar that could hold a candle to Club MC for wasted space.  Ah, but Humun rocked, one show down hopefully many more to come.

Mind you, this is the same Humun that the now petering-out Club Nevermind started in, and had to move from, some eight years ago.  Nevermind was also attempting to get Chonnam National University Students to go out to hear live music, but that failed so miserably (maybe he didn’t serve soju eh?) that it moved down near Memi Art Space and Dae In Market, and closer to three high schools, and sure-enough in its day drew high school students and some westerners to shows like Jang Gi Ha.

Ah, but MC Club was PACKED by the time Feed the Boats hit the stage.  Their singer has a way of drawing a LOT of female fans, and the new drummer Dan, famously of BettyAss and every other band that wanted the best drummer in Korea, now makes Feed the Boats strong enough to tour ANY continent.  How dare I say that?  Well, after 35 years of shows, and 20 years playing them myself, I’ve rarely seen a singer come so far so fast, and now that she’s a wailing punk diva, this band is here (and hopefully OVER THERE) to stay.  John’s “interesting” guitar, and solid bass playing round out what is BY FAR Gwangju’s best band, and one that hopefully already HAS taken on the HongDae club scene in Seoul.  By God I was too tired from dancing to interview Feed the Boats, and now, having forgotten a few names, I just have to report that they are better than ever, draw crowds to the hinterlands (for many Humun is little more than a one-night-stand land and vomitorium for amateur drinkers after midnight) and so those who work in the rest of town find little other than Tequilaz to blow cab fare on, until, with the luck and grace of all that is Easter-like, Club MC hosted this live music, its first reappearance in oh so many years.

Were there a lot of university students in attendance?  No.  Was the place a 50-50 mix of westerners and Koreans, well let’s say 70-30, but still, the Korean fans did come out, as did the professorial group, a small but well-acquainted gathering of regular-sized ladies, and men, ranging form pure Yankee nerd to African to genuine punks. Well, just my type of diversity.  It was the chair dancers that stole the crowd scene.  A pair of Korean ladies in the back and a couple of Native English Speaking stool dancers who towered above the ecstatic, nearly fainting, gaga-eyed adorers of Feed the Boats.

It was a hoot to have a camera along, I was not the only one…

Rock on Club MC, can you do this once a month now?  Once a week!?

11 Responses to “MC Club Rocks Chonnam Humun, Saturday April 23, 2011”
  1. Michael says:

    Great article, and the pictures are sick. But Deserts aren’t a cover band, all of the songs are written by the band. Sorry, just had to get that in there

  2. gwangjumusic says:

    dude, Deserts doesn’t do any covers, all the songs are original, great bit of journalism this is.

  3. gwangjumusic says:

    Also, Angus Young from AC/DC played a Gibson, no one in Deserts plays a Gibson. And, you seem to have forgotten the second half of the ‘Rock and Rhymes’ event, the Gwangju hip hop group The Migook Movement and a MC from Seoul came down and played after the rock groups. Too bad you couldn’t find someone who actually went to the event to write this article, then they wouldn’t have had to fabricate so much of it.

    • koreamaria says:

      Thanks for your constructive criticism. Appreciate you dissing us when we don’t get paid to write anything up about Deserts at all. Appreciate your support in reading and giving us the middle finger.

      • RexxarDaB34stKing says:

        Write a bad article with both missing and incorrect facts.
        Get mad when people correct you and add what is missing.


      • koreamaria says:

        Mad? No way! This is the journal of discourse (talk) of disquiet (discomfort). Your fine literary talents were approved, and not deleted by me, the editor and founder. My response was with your negativity. I think Gwangju is too small of a community to be overly negative. It shuts people down. I do think that if you really want to improve things, you don’t have wank all over someone’s time and effort. I appreciate Abe Cutler’s approach. Points out our mistakes but doesn’t make it emotional or insulting. Thanks for taking the time to read. Maybe you could even write something. Your saucy perspective always has a home here as long as you don’t rip people a new hole.

  4. Mike P says:

    Just a note, Deserts play all original songs, they’re not a cover band. They warmed up by playing a couple riffs from other songs, but once they got started it was all original. Also, you didn’t even mention the second half of the show.

  5. Abe Cutler says:


    I organized the show and I just thought that you might want to get some of your facts the case that you want to edit your blog post to be more accurate. The show was a rock and hiphop show and the two hiphop groups performed after the rock groups. Those acts were Pinnacle TheHustler and Da Megook Movement. Also the name of the venue is MC Bar and the area is Chonnam Humun.

    • koreamaria says:

      Abe: Thanks so much for the extra deets. Doug hit as much of the show as he could – he’s a family man, ya know. Appreciate the clarity about the event.

  6. dougstuber says:

    Yup, terrible journalism, I’m willing ot admit this. I did have to skidaddle after the first three acts, and did not cover the Hip Hop part of the show….at least, though I messed up on who is playing which guitar, and brought AC/DC into the Deserts, which is a stretch both musically and ethically, maybe I loved the song I knew to be an original, and having thought the others weren’t gave a back-handed compliment to the band, by assuming the songs were written by those who have already been discovered….but that is wimping out of the fact that I didn’t even ASK whether there were any covers. Terrible bit of journalism, agreed.

    You’ve pointed out the severe headaches blogs create by not having official fact chekcers and editors-on-staff like the New Yorker does. Next time I will be a better journalist. Next time I will stick around. Next time….another piece of shit-smelling rationalization.

    By all means, next time I won’t write a review, I will write a critique, that way I won’t have to be accurate, just a critic…..oh when’s your next show?


  7. dougstuber says:

    OK now I updated for ya, so you can point your fans to it with glee.

    Yours in assdom,

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