Handsome Furs – Seoul II 2010

[showtime]

SEOUL. August 13.

Our health is yet again aided by the restorative properties of a Korean meal. A whole crew of us meet for the Shrimp-between-whales’ rendition of shabu shabu. (According to my readings, a proverb identifies the significant peninsula as the shrimp between the giants of China, Japan and the Former Soviet Union.) Raw beef and lettuce-wrapped rice ball and turnip kimchi and hot peppers dipped in a broth of enoki and shitake mushrooms, cabbage, carrot and garlic. We are recovered.

After picking up our gear at a damp and moldy storage quarters, we race and nearly miss our train back to Seoul. Dan and I snuggle into slumber in our seats, idly rousing ourselves to witness the churning Hyundai factories and pop-up cities that dot the rail line beneath hills of misted forest.

At V-Club, we are again surprised by gigantic LED stage screens and an unreal sound system and joyous disco balls. The venue is epically decked out. Again the soundmen are lovely and we soundcheck easily.

In a plush VIP room (we have a backstage?!! wowza!), we do interviews with Korean Press. Having heard of my stint working and guest-editing in Beijing, they hassle me about not having opted for a journalistic career on their fair turf. I ask about freelance and graciously, two-handedly accept their business cards, eager to work with them.

Christina arrives ferociously well-dressed in a black mesh mini dress with green neon undergarments suggesting themselves suggestively. I put on Russian Red lipstick and sigh. She steers us through this district’s cheap platform jelly sandals and fashionable young galleries and Kawaii hawkers dressed in bows and tutus and striped knee-highs. For fear of being trampled by rampant shoppers we keep a steady pace. We note one shop that is good for plastic watches, one for patterned silks and one for “party kitchenware.”

It’s hard to choose amongst the hideaway restaurants on the alleyway she leads us to but eventually we settle on a fancy Japanese joint. She and I cannot stomach the fish guts bulgogi and are happy to have room for the mackerel with roe sashimi and cold sake. Prior to the show, Dan wishes he hadn’t gluttoned his way through the ocean innards bowl because it doesn’t swim well in his salty gut.

A large crowd turns out, including a fan and fellow musician we’d met at a London show. I thank Kim for coming with long hugs. Despite the impressive club sound rig, we manage to irritate the monitors and, for the second half of the set, approximate our songs to the best of our abilities. That photo-taking with fans that follows the show assures us we put on a good fight. And then the metronomic beats of shitty house music overtakes the club and we leave the dancing to the better-dressed.