Carsick Cars Deliver as Promised. Along with Some Surprising Other Acts



BUSAN South Korea – It is a rare night in Busan that you can pop into a local bar and see some internationally-renowned talent on stage. Especially on a Thursday –that notoriously slow night on the scene outside of Monday when most people are tucked in resting themselves up for the weekend's hard charge.

But don't tell that to Matt Cullivan, who runs The Basement bar near Busan National University (PNU). This past Thursday was a night for the books as Beijing's own Indie band extraordinaire, Carsick Cars, ripped through a tight set to a 3/4 capacity crowd of both Koreans and expats.

Carsick Cars was joined by the Seoul-based band, "10" and Mamasan, who are becoming regulars here on the local Scene.

More than anything, the crowd came out to see what Beijing had to offer. Busan's Hajimama front man, Collwyn Craig, put it best: "I have never been to China, but these guys really make me want to go."

While a lot of bands rely on antics and stagemanship to bring energy to a gig, the Carsick Cars just let the music speak for itself. Fresh off an East Coast tour of the U.S. last December, the trio laid down a bouncable set of tunes that got the crowd going –in stark contrast to their otherwise laid back personage on stage.

While Busan slowly builds its music scene living in the long shadow of her sister city Seoul, Beijing has already established itself as a musical force to be reckoned with. Busan could learn well from its Chinese neighbors who worked hard to build their own scene up.

According to Carsick Cars lead singer, Shouyang: "Five years ago we were playing in places half this size, but now Indie bands in Beijing are filling larger and larger venues."

Shouyang , along with drummer, Qing Li, and bassist, "Levi," will hit Daegu and then Seoul before heading back to Beijing to get ready for an upcoming tour of the American West Coast. And the band enjoyed a good reception in Europe when they joined Sonic Youth on their tour there a few years back. 

The night opened up with the local trio, Mamasan, fronted by guitarists and lead singer Il-du Kim, bassist, Chang-wan Seo and hard driving drummer, Casey McKeever. The trio ripped through a strong, but short set of tunes to get the crowd warmed up.

Then came "10" –perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening. 

The Seoul-based duo blew everyone away with a mixture of breakbeats layered with everything from static and cleverly played off-beat keyboard licks that was at times orchestrated to microphone feedback. Usually an irritant when it happens during a performance, "10" intentionally manipulated the normally hideous squeal on top of a pounding breakbeat that had the crowd bobbing their heads up and down throughout their set.

"10," which first came together back in 2005, is made up of lead vocalists/keyboardist (or better put, lead chanter/keyboardists) "Itta" who is originally from Pohang, Korea, along with her boyfriend-slash-computer-sound-effect master, Marqido, who hails from Shikoku, Japan.

Seoul-based "10" Marqido (left) and Itta. They will be in Busan again on Saturday Feb. 20th at Interplay in PNU

I had stepped out onto the street for a few minutes to take a phone call just after Mamasan finished their set. When I walked back in I was hit with a wildly orchestrated wall of sound. I turned suprisingly to see only two people there putting all this ultra-cool-techno-acid-funk together. In a word it was hypnotic. There were times during their performance that I was back in my mid-20's sitting around the living room with friends trippin' on window-pane. Wild, intense stuff.

The Basement owner, Matt Cullivan, who scored big last year bringing in the UK's "Yacht" along with America's "White Rainbow," said that more international talent will soon be gracing his stage. 

"February 25th we will have the Japanese band De!nial. These guys are really wild. It should be a great show. We hope a lot of people come out."

It just so happens that the 25th falls on a Thursday. Is this the beginning of a new pre-weekend concert trend? I for one hope it is.


Short Clip: Carsick Cars at The Basement


Short Clip: "10" at The Basement


Photos by Mindy Sisco

Carsick Cars Drummer, Qing Li

Carsick Cars Bass Player, Levi

Carsick Cars

"10" 's Marqido

"10" 's Itta



HQ bar