Last Friday I had the irresistible urge to listen to Ani Difranco and sing every word to every song on every album at the top of my voice like I was the angry early twenty-something I used to be. This delighted my husband to no end and he continued to laugh about it for days after. On the flip side, my children were mildly horrified. Their tired, old mom was making them dance in the kitchen while she unapologetically sang naughty words completely lost in the ’90s. Poor ducks.
To my children, I am and have always been a huge Kpop fan, completely lost in a faraway country listening to lyrics I can barely tease out and admiring the artists for their looks and fashion sense as much as for their talent and hard work. But what they barely remember or may not fully understand at all, is that their mom used to be a huge fan of a variety of genres – folks, punk, ska, grunge. I sported my mohawk, listened to shitty mixed tapes, and clomped around in my Doc Martins with the best of ‘em (still wear those Docs all the time – full disclosure). In college, I produced punk shows in tiny venues and hung out with local and regional bands making sure they didn’t drink too much or sleep with underaged fangirls. It was a fulfilling time.
Even though I have slipped into a whole different world of artists and sounds, I still do get a hankering for the comfort and familiarity of noisy guitars and screaming lyrics. The pain and rage of punk or pop-punk reminds me of what it felt like to have feelings as a very young adult. Everything was brighter and somehow more heightened. Now that I’m older and jaded, I recognize that urgent doesn’t mean the same thing as it once did and that my particular brand of angst wasn’t exactly all that unique. But I think the memory of that intensity helps me be a better fan of whatever it is I’m obsessing over at the moment. In a weird way, punk makes me a better fan of pop.
There isn’t a huge punk rock scene in South Korea, but as with everything else, it does exist. Riot Kidz, one of the more well known groups, formed in 2011 but didn’t actually release any songs until 2014 – which seems pretty appropriate given their genre. I mean The Sex Pistols were slow to release and they only put out one album with the original members. This group leans a little more pop-punk than some of the old stuff I used to listen to, but that makes sense given how popular the sound was coming out of the US in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when these guys were in their formative years. It’s palatable and a great gateway into a scene that’s in the process of growing and finding it’s place. If you’re interested in seeing what Korean punks have to offer, Riot Kidz seems like a decent place to start.
I, for one, am super pleased to see a generation of Korean youth getting the same emotional outlet that I had as a kid…seems fair since I’m currently consuming all of their tunes.
Fahrenheit, Riot Kidz