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Bands turn to silver screen to perform in pandemic times

With music halls and auditoriums shut down or under strict limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year, bands are turning to “performing” at local cinemas.

Under the government’s social distancing scheme, audience numbers at concerts are limited to under 100.

Though the rules were relaxed in late-February for musicals and classical music performances -- the number of people in the audience is not capped as long as the middle-seat vacancy rule is practiced -- live music shows are still limited to only allowing fewer than 100 audience members.

Under these circumstances, bands have gone online or the silver screen to perform. 

A performance by indie rock band Se So Neon was screened at CGV movie theaters across the country earlier this month. (CJ Cultural Foundation)
A performance by indie rock band Se So Neon was screened at CGV movie theaters across the country earlier this month. (CJ Cultural Foundation)

Indie rock band Se So Neon held a performance that was shown at local cinema franchise CGV earlier this month. The band’s world tour, scheduled to make stops in 10 countries, was canceled due to travel restrictions brought on by the virus situation.

So, instead of a world tour, the band and CJ Cultural Foundation, the producer the band’s latest album “Nonadaption,” decided to make a 90-minute film of the band’s performing for fans to enjoy at their local cinema,.

“We were not much in favor of an online concert because it is not fun for us or for those who watch it,” Hwang So-yoon of Se So Neon said during a press event held on March 11. “But this content may be something that fans can enjoy.”

“We recorded the performance thinking that we were at a live concert,” Hwang said. “This project began because of COVID-19, but this may be fun even when live concerts are back.”

The show was screened at CGV branches in Seoul, Incheon, Daegu, Busan and Gwangju, attracting a total of around 2,300 people over its 10-day run from March 11-21. Indie band Gift also participated in the project.
 
Indie rock band Gift performs during a concert that was screened at CGV movie theaters earlier this month. (CJ Cultural Foundation)
Indie rock band Gift performs during a concert that was screened at CGV movie theaters earlier this month. (CJ Cultural Foundation)

The rock band Guckkasten’s “Happening” concert opened on March 24 at 52 CGV branches across the nation. The screening is a re-edited version of the band’s DVD released in January 2020.

A poster for band Guckkasten’s “Happening” concert screening (CJ Cultural Foundation)
A poster for band Guckkasten’s “Happening” concert screening (CJ Cultural Foundation)


According to the CJ Cultural Foundation, the performances brought to cinemas offer a more live-like experience for audiences, compared to watching a virtual concert at home, thanks to the theaters’ enhanced acoustics and close up shots of band members during the show.

Meanwhile, the local music scene continues to protest current social distancing rules, citing “unfairness.”

“Please remove the discrimination against performances that threaten the industry’s survival. Allow live music events to gather audiences like other performing art events,” said a statement issued by a committee of live music personnel released on March 24.

Indie music fans and bands are protesting, too, in response to authorities limiting live club performances in western Seoul’s Hongdae area, where many indie music venues are located. They have a formed a committee and are asking the authorities to change the rules.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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