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Live Review - Mono - Seoul, Korea

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MONO w/ World’s End Girlfriend

Fashion Centre, Seoul, Korea

Saturday March 17, 2007

by: Kevin O'Neil



On St. Patrick’s Day I was fortunate enough to attend Japanese quartet MONO's sophomore visit to Seoul, Korea. Last April, Mono played their first-ever Korean show at an underground live music club in Seoul called Rolling Hall. It was their first live show after the release of the album You Are There and the band managed to pack the 150-200 person venue to the brim for that show. One curiosity I noticed at last year's show was that the entire crowd sat down on the floor for the majority of the show. I distinctly recall the music just screaming for people to stand up, move, release! During a brief silent moment, someone in the crowd did indeed call out for the audience to stand up; and instantly everyone obliged as if waiting for the go-ahead. The band gave nod to this sudden wave by unleashing some of the loudest, most climactic sounds that I'd ever been exposed to.

For their return to Korea, Mono upsized to a bigger venue in a completely different part of town. While Rolling Hall is located in the happening, artsy part of town known as 'Hongdae', last Saturday's show was awkwardly located across town in an area known primarily for shopping and high-end fashion. The venue itself was the Fashion Centre; an auditorium with an approximate capacity of about 500. It has a narrow balcony wrapped around the walls of the room and a large empty space on the floor with plastic fold-up conference chairs set up along the back walls. White panelled walls, thin grey carpet, professional lighting, phenomenal sound and absolutely no character. One particularly different aspect of live shows in Korea is that most live music venues are not licensed, and the audience is welcome to bring their own beverages of any kind into the venue. While making it easier on the wallet for the boozers in the house, the majority of the audience on this particular occasion was clear-headed and painfully quiet between songs. The venue was about half-full, and everyone was on their feet this time around.


photo by:

Chris Lynch

The band is as loud as Big Sugar, but the comparisons end there. In their one long set, Mono gave us music that is introspective, dark and absolutely cathartic. Their sound calls out your demons and engages them in a gory battle where no secrets remain hidden. They move from a blaring hot dungeon to a delicate melodic plateau at a moment’s notice. The band themselves – though sexy as hell - keep a low profile onstage; swaying at times but mainly focusing on their instruments and pedals, the sound they are creating. There is a drone-like quality to their sound, mostly minor-key. It was loud and it was powerful. Everyone walked out of the Fashion Centre that night with their jaws agape and minds thoroughly impaired.

See MONO at one of these nearby shows with World’s End Girlfriend and The Drift:

April 13, 2007 – Montreal, QC – La Sala Rosa

April 14, 2007 – Buffalo, NY – Soundlab

April 25, 2007 – Seattle, WA – Neumo’s

Photos courtesy of Chris Lynch – http://www.whoischris.net/

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