On Saturday night, I clambered down the stairs of Strange Fruit in Hongdae to see veteran indie rockers Galaxy Express perform. The band have committed themselves to a month of nightly performances at the tiny basement club in January. While this kind of demanding schedule is usually reserved for overseas tours when bands are fueled by the thrill of new environs, Seoulites now have the rare opportunity to see one of the city’s most loved indie acts any day of the week (barring Mondays).
While Galaxy Express is usually filling much larger live halls or soccer fields at outdoor festivals, they have decided to offer a more intimate experience for fans. Strange Fruit was definitely not built to hold big rock acts and does not allow much room for jumping around, but they had the place packed and bumping wall to wall.
The show was kicked off by garage rock duo 57. Their set had its highlights with subtle moments building into big crashing riffs, but one gets the feeling these up-and-comers are still honing their sound.
Surprisingly, Galaxy Express were next to take the stage, explaining that they wanted to give the headline honors to Dead Buttons to celebrate their new album release. Galaxy Express belted out eight songs in quick succession without so much as skipping a beat, even slipping into some unexpected reggae with a few bars of Bob Marley ‘s “I Shot the Sheriff.” While the audience highlights were definitely “Horongbul” and “Jungle the Black,” a personal favorite was “Let it Out,” the opening track off their latest album, last summer’s “Walking on Empty.” While one might have forgiven them for stepping off the gas for a moment given their hectic playing schedule, the trio blasted out a frantic set to a full house and even relented to demands for an encore of “Oh Yeah!”
The night was finished off with the eclectic garage rock of Dead Buttons putting on the best performance I’ve seen from them to date. The band cranked out a more raucous rendition of their crowd pleaser, “Baby, Please Be Yourself.” It is safe to say that this rock duo have really hit their stride with their brand new album, “Some Kind of Youth,” with “16-22” standing out live as a great track. A cover of Galaxy Express’ “Oh Yeah!” wrapped up a fantastic night of rock and roll.
Galaxy Express play nightly (sans Monday) at Strange Fruit in Hongdae throughout January. Check out who they’ll be playing with each night by clicking on the photo below.