May 6, 2012

Morrissey in Seoul

 

Event: Morrissey – Live in Concert

Date: Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Venue: AX Live House (ax-korea.co.kr/)

Location: Gwangnaru Station, Seoul, South Korea

Rock Travelers: Matt Vacca and Josh Stinton

 

It was difficult, if not impossible, for me to imagine seeing the legend, Steven Patrick Morrissey,  live in concert here in Korea. However, that is part of the whole reason I started my Rock Traveler internet journal. I wanted to show the passionate music fan where to go and who to see concert-wise when traveling abroad, no matter how out of place the event or artist may seem. Apparently it seemed strange to the former Smiths frontman, too, as he opened his 90-minute set (right at 7pm) by remarking that it was quite something that “his career had come to this!” The Moz did not disappoint the appreciative crowd of fanatical expats and Koreans alike though as he began this Sunday evening gig with fittingly enough, “Every Day is Like Sunday,” the now classic cut from his solo debut, Viva Hate. My first international Rock-n-Roll road trip could not have been more perfect.

The journey began innocently enough for fellow teacher Josh and I at the intercity bus stop in Daejeon with coffee and baked goodies from the (ever-present) Paris Baguette located next to the station. While I prefer the speed and comfort of the Korea’s high-speed rail, the KTX, when hitting the major cities, I have come to appreciate the value, simplicity, and efficiency of the network of coach-style buses that also serves the more remote areas of the country. Our tickets were a little over 12,000 KRW ($10.25 U.S.) for the 2-hour trip to the capital city, versus the 55 minute ride on the bullet train at 300 km/h. It does give you a chance to read, relax, listen to The Smiths, and actually see parts of Korea that you miss as a blur out your window on the rail lines.

Arriving at the Seoul bus terminal around noon, we headed to expat haven, Itaewon, for a stop at Engligh-language bookstore “What The Book?” after Josh treated us to a “mandatory” western-style feast at Quizno’s. Itaewon is also home to several foreign embassies, plus-size clothing shops, and a new Taco Bell for your overseas chili cheese burrito fix. While I have been carefully avoiding the junk-food side of Korea lately (sorry Mr. Pizza), I have to admit that the toasted subs we had were terrific fuel for a big day in beautiful Seoul. While deciding what to do next, we were greeted by a couple of Korean Tourism volunteers, conspicuously dressed as red cowboys. We inquired about catching a baseball game from these ever-friendly and eager to serve ambassadors, and they laid out a course that got us to the ballpark via the Seoul Metro before the first pitch.

Jeonnam Stadium is home to both the Doosan Bears from the Futures League (한국 야구 퓨처스리그) Northern division, and the Kia Tigers of the Southern division. The Korea Baseball Futures league is essentially the farm league for the Korea Professional Baseball league, and from the outside, had the same feel as a Columbus Clippers game back home. The fans, however, treated every pitch as if it was Game 7 of the World Series once inside. Politely taking turns to yell, sing, and chant for the teams while at bat, this packed house (fully equipped with “Thunder Sticks”) was electric with excitement and non-stop entertainment throughout the game.

The game was great fun for the perfect afternoon, and without breaking the bank. Tickets in the outfield were only 7,000 KRW and corn dogs, ice cream, and drinks were on the cheap, too. On the whole it was a blast that was unlike Major League Baseball, a great value. The game left both Josh and I missing our beloved Orioles and Reds back home, and yet we were also eager to see another game back in Daejeon. Our hometown team, the Hanwha Eagles, are currently basement-dwellers in the KBFL standings, so they need all the support they can get.

All in all, the day was exciting and action-packed, and the show, although brief, was an experience I will never forget. The pre-gig nachos, however, covered with corn, peas, and carrots (?) should be avoided at all costs. Stick with the Korean food.

Radiohead, Elvis Costello, and the Stone Roses (!) are coming to the Jisan Valley Rock Festival at the end of July – so a Rock Traveler dispatch from the outdoor ski valley venue will be coming soon!

Until then, rock on and stay tuned!

 

(Thanks to fellow Rock Traveler and Columbus native, Jerah Pettibone, for the additional concert photos.)