Gyeongju World Culture Expo - World Music Festival / Steelheart / Rock performance

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Gyeongju World Culture Expo - World Music Festival / Steelheart / Rock performance

This is “Yagiman,” the story-telling guy, on the scene at the hot spot of the Gyeongju World Culture Expo 2011According to the weather forecast for Friday, August 12, 2011, a lot of rain is expected in the Seoul/Gyeonggi region, and a goodly amount of rain in the mid- and lower sections of the southern peninsula, but… The sky over Gyeongju is extremely clear, and more importantly, really hot, just scorching hot.

The blueness showing through the cutout pagoda shape in the Gyeongju Tower is righteous and tranquil, as if telling a story from the other side of the clouds

An outdoor stage is being set up right in front of Gyeongju Tower, and all kinds of sound equipment and effects are being checked.  Wait, over there, a balding gentleman, kind of unusual looking, and another guy whose clothing style doesn’t seem to match his age…
There’s something going on with those two

As I zoom in on them, with an agile twist of my telephoto lens, it turns out that these guys are really husky. Take a look at that sign standing right next to them,

World Music Festival
The World Music Festival is held right in front of Gyeongju Tower during the sixty days of the Gyeongju World Culture Expo.
In my younger days, I used to chase after rock concerts like the Ssamzie Sound Festival, Bud Rock Concert, Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, and even went to high school teeny-bopper concerts, shaking my water bottle.
But I have settled down since I started putting on some flesh around my mid-section and other places, since my breathing got ragged and my life felt like it might be in jeopardy.
However, the World Music Festival that I encountered at the very center of the Gyeongju World Culture Expo got my heart going again.

But, today is Friday, not Saturday or Sunday. Then I look at the line-up again, and see a special event listed for the Korean Independence Day holiday.
On Aug. 12, 2011, Steelheart (their big hit was ‘She’s Gone’).
On Aug. 15, 2011, Monday, there’s a special Independence Day show of OST (movie soundtrack) music.

Then, that means that this bass guitarist who is going ‘koong koong dda’ right in front of my eyes, and

(She's Gone - Steelheart)
… the vocalist who is overflowing with ultra-cool charisma, in spite of being a middle-aged dude… is the singer of the very band, Steelheart, that sang the very song, “She’s Gone,” that had those high notes, that used to make me feel so frustrated about my singing, even though I sang and sang and sang!!

Time is cruel.
Steelheart, the five-member American heavy metal band, achieved global fame with “She’s Gone,” released in 1990. They were especially popular in Asia, including Japan and Korea, for that melodic power ballad and the intense high notes towards the end.
This is their first trip to Korea in thirteen years.
Once upon a time, the standard audition piece for vocalists trying out for rock bands in Korea was none other than “She’s Gone.” Now that I think about it, I can’t imagine why everyone was so fixated on singing those high notes.
I think it was the time when skill was judged only on the basis of high notes and fast, machine-gun guitar licks.

Finally, one at a time, the lights around Gyeongju Tower start to be illuminated, as the sun begins to set. People also start to gather one by one.

On a side note, of all the bands whose concerts I’ve been to, Steelheart rehearses the most diligently when preparing for a show.
I used to do half-assed rehearsals onstage before performances, acting all arrogant and mightier-than-thou, because of some common belief that really good bands don’t need to waste time rehearsing. But, Steelheart was rehearsing all day long, despite the considerably hot weather, personally checking even the smallest details, one by one, to confirm the sound quality.   

Finally the stage lights go up.

The drumming starts, followed by electric guitar.
The fierce beat builds up, and a massive rush of sound starts to flow, ready to pierce my eardrums.

This is the scene where the World Music Festival of Gyeongju World Culture Expo 2011 was launched with the Steelheart show.
They started not one of their own songs, but with Led Zeppelin.
My heart exploded with a sudden kung, and started to pump faster, forgetting its age. 

Steelheart’s performance was incredibly great.
Not only was their skill excellent, but their conscientious attitude and stage presence were even more excellent.
First of all, facing the Korean audience at Gyeongju World Culture Expo 2011, it must have been incredibly hard for them to rouse an audience response, especially with just one lone hit, “She’s Gone,” and especially in Korea, where rock bands are dying a grisly death.

They would need a lot of time to draw an actual response from Korean audience members, who are not skilled at expressing emotions.
For that tedious duration, Steelheart expertly held the stage, never losing patience.
As they painstakingly built up the atmosphere and began to win over the audience, all of a sudden they were asked to interrupt the show because of a live interview going on somewhere with some Mr. Bigshot. It wouldn’t be unheard of for a band, even a Korean band, to pack up their equipment and leave in a huff in this kind of ridiculous situation.
But Steelheart was understanding about this unseemly turn of events; they waited and then got back up on the stage and played their best. I felt embarrassed; it reminded me of the incident when Ennio Morricone was reportedly mortified and offended at the Busan International Film Festival.

Have you ever tried to sing “She’s Gone”?
Or, have you ever gone to a norae-bang karaoke room by yourself and sung this song, wanting to really own it? When ‘she’ left, the song “She’s Gone” consoled a guy in despair.
Although it was kind of disappointing when he screamed the high note in a much lower register than the original, running out of breath due to the inevitable passage of time, the band still seemed radiant just by singing their own music on stage. 

Another reason Steelheart’s performance was nothing less than great is this item that I got.

It’s the guitar pick of Rev Jones, the bassist of Steelheart.
I suddenly imagined the look on the faces of my younger friends, who still haven’t given up playing the bass. The thought of showing it off and gloating next time I see them gives me a big thrill.
So, that’s the end. This has been Yagiman, the story-telling guy, from the scene of the World Music Festival at the Gyeongju World Culture Expo 2011.


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