Nothing brings people together quite like music does. Except, maybe, war. It’s a close call. Tough to say, with much certainty, whether people are more unified in times of war or in the chorus of “Sweet Caroline.” I suppose that war is going to have to win here, although Neil Diamond isn’t too far behind. Then again, I don’t know exactly how unified America has been throughout its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I do know, however, that I went to a Danzig concert a couple years ago, and the whole place sang “Mother” in perfect harmony. I’m not sure I’m making much of a point there. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that war and music both bring people together, and I like Danzig.
Speaking of music and the Iraq war, I remember watching a documentary and in one part the troops talked about the songs they would listen to before going into combat. Some favorites were “Bodies” by Drowning Pool and “The Roof is on Fire” by Bloodhound Gang. That made sense to me. Those seem like good pump up songs. The first one is heavy and fast, and the second one has lots of cursing in it. If I were to go into battle, or out on a date, or perhaps if I had to give a kitten a vitamin, those are the kind of songs I’d want to hear beforehand.
I bring this up because I’m terribly concerned about South Korea and the severe lack of pump up music here. Seriously, what if a war with the North begins tomorrow? I feel the lack of pump up music could indirectly lead to a crushing defeat. Have you heard the music they listen to here? I’m picturing soldiers strapping belts of ammunition across their chests while blasting Kpop. Or driving in tanks, off to battle, listening to Super Junior. They might as well surrender the moment the war starts and offer Kim Jong Un a big bowl of rice and a bulgogi burger, because hopefully that’d influence him to be a nicer president in the future. I can’t imagine anyone would be ready for serious combat with only groups like 2 PM, Wonder Girls, and SHINee to create the proper state of mind. Don’t believe that this could be a potentially serious problem? Apparently you haven’t heard SHINee.
Being a lover of rock music, life in Korea can be hard. There isn’t a lot of guitar driven stuff around. I’ve gone to two “rock festivals” since I’ve been here: the first one (The First Annual Dajeon Rock Fest) was stopped early by the police because of noise complaints from the neighbors (making it The Last Annual Dajeon Rock Festival), and the second one featured lots of Korean bands who reminded me of mid-tempo Matchbox 20. I also went to a Kpop festival where Rain and 4minute performed, and by “performed,” I mean they ran around the stage lip-synching while the crowd sat down and waved glow sticks. It was about as far a cry from Danzig as one could possibly get. In March of 2011, I shelled out $100 to see Iron Maiden and almost cried with happiness the second I heard the riff from “2 Minutes to Midnight.” If only for a moment, it helped me block out the incredible shame I harbor for knowing more than one SHINee song.
That Iron Maiden show was the last concert I‘d gone to in a long time, and so it was with great excitement that I learned Morrissey would be coming here in early May. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Morrissey? Yes, Morrissey. I’m a fan. Shut it. Anyways, I yet again shelled out $100, and cranked “You’re the One for Me, Fatty,” to really amp myself up.
“Morrissey in Korea?” one of my friends said. “What Koreans are going to go to see Morrissey? I can’t imagine many. It’s gonna be all foreigners.”
This had occurred to me as well. I had recently completed a textbook unit at school called “Appreciate the Arts” that dealt with concerts, and every single one of my students said they did NOT want to go to a concert because “it is so loud.” Likewise, I didn’t recall many Koreans at the Iron Maiden show, and the ones that were there got yelled at by Bruce Dickinson for sitting down (it’s true).
I asked my girlfriend if she wanted to see Morrissey with me. “No,” she shot back quickly. “You go.”
“Do you want to hear a few songs first? Maybe make your decision off of that?”
She didn’t say anything. The look she gave me told me it wouldn’t be necessary.
I was excited, anyways. And so I went to the Morrissey show by myself, happy and delirious. Three songs in, during the first verse of “Every Day is like Sunday,” I literally teared up, overcome with the emotion of hearing rock music again. It reminded me of home and I jumped up and down with the little Indian dude standing next to me and we belted out the chorus together.
Then I got to thinking about rushing the stage. When I saw Morrissey play in America, a whole bunch of fans jumped on the stage and tried to touch him. They were all quickly tackled by security like they were trying to attack Monica Seles and then dragged away. The funny thing was, Morrissey didn’t seem to mind; he even said to the security guards, multiple times, “It’s not a big deal.” The security guards responded by glaring into the audience with hatred.
“What if I ran up on stage here, in Korea?” I thought. I didn’t have any interest in touching Morrissey, but I thought it would be a hell of a story. I looked at the security guards. There were only two. They were dressed in suits and looked, well, grandfatherly. I could easily get by them if I wanted to.
Around this time, the Korean girl standing in front of me shouted something to the security guard and he left. Yes, he left. “What the hell?” I thought. “This is my perfect opportunity to touch Morrissey…in a non-gay kind of way.” Then the paranoid side of me kicked in. What would happen to me after I got taken off stage? Perhaps the Koreans wouldn’t understand. It seemed, after all, like they were trusting me NOT to do something like that. They’d be furious. I’d get sent home. I’d have to face everybody with tons of embarrassment.
“Why are you back so early? Did you miss us?”
“No, not that,” I’d say. “I got deported. It’s all Morrissey’s fault.”
The security guard returned to his post with a cup of water. He handed it to the Korean girl in front of me. The little Indian guy asked her how she got it. ”I asked him for water,” she said.
“That’s cool,” I thought. I looked around me and saw that there were a lot more Korean people than I’d imagined there would be, and that they were all singing along to the songs too. There was no need to cause any tension. It’s all about love, man. Togetherness. I turned my attention back to the stage and kept singing, along with hundreds of other voices that all seemed to be coming from the same place.