Performing to a sold-out audience at the 1,000-seat LG Arts Center in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul, one of Korea’s most iconic rock bands demonstrated the secret to its vibrant two-decade career: its continued evolution in music with its songs growing together with their fans.
“Music is made by musicians,” said YB bassist Park Tae-hee on Sunday, the last day of the four-day Seoul concert “20-years.” “But music also matures the musician. It’s right here, when we’re connecting with our fans, that we can revive the songs whose lyrics and melodies we were beginning to lose passion for. This is when we mature, a little bit more.”
In addition to performing hits like “I’ll Forget You” and “Blue Whale,” five-member band YB spent the three-hour set introducing new arrangements of past songs, including English renditions of “Dreaming Girl,” “We Are Men,” “Half-game,” “Talk To Me” and “It Burns.”
The concert was a trip through the band’s history, which began with “Tarzan” in 1995 and adapted the genre of rock to touch upon genres both popular and obscure in Korea, like dance, ballad, screamo, grunge and metal.
The band’s versatility in music was what earned them the steady respect and support of fans of all generations and musical tastes, as proven by the varied faces in the audience.
Particularly notable was a short acoustic set in the middle of the concert. Front man Yoon Do-hyun (English stage name Dee) took a break from jumping and dancing around the stage to take a seat at the piano facing guitarist Heo Joon (Baby J). They performed two songs with a cellist, “Autumn Outside the Post Office” from YB’s 1995 album and “Weather That You Made.“
“It was only two songs, but it was my first time playing with a cellist. I was so excited to come onstage with these songs,” said Yoon. “It’s always that way when I perform with a new instrument.”
“The reason we keep doing these acoustic songs,” said Heo, “is that it’s so fascinating and wonderful to see how much energy Do-hyun can convey through his voice alone.”
They wrapped up the acoustic set with what Yoon called their “secret weapon” -- an acoustic version of his song “Me These Days” which had originally featured vocalist K.will and rapper Tablo. Heo and Yoon each took on the featuring parts, calling themselves “Heo-will” and “Do-blo.”
It was back to the pounding music after that, with songs like “Cigarette Girl” and “I’m Cool,” when Yoon jumped down from the stage to sing in the audience seats and revealed that boy band g.o.d’s Kim Tae-woo was in the crowd.
The set ended with a two-song encore, with Kim Tae-woo joining the band onstage for “It Must Have Been Love” and a rousing chorus of the mega-hit “A Flying Butterfly.”
“Even after 20 years, I think the phrase ‘let’s keep going to the end’ is more apt for us than ‘it’s time to stop,’” said Yoon.
YB’s “20-years” national tour will continue into next January, taking them through 12 more cities, including Seongnam, Daegu, Busan and Pohang. They are preparing their first official English album, slated to drop next year.
By Won Ho-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)