Gen-X rock legend gets back on stageA brief profile of Seotaeji, from an online encyclopedia by Naver search engine: He released 14 albums in nine years. He’s won 11 music awards. There are eight registered fan sites devoted to him. His favorite food is pork ribs. At Empass, another search engine, 545 newspaper articles mention Seotaeji.
Among young Koreans, the name evokes not only his approach to music, but everything represented by Generation X ― the post-Baby Boomers, much written about in the 1990s, who were supposedly aimless and dissatisfied with mainstream culture.
Now 31, Seotaeji is getting ready for his first headlining concert in almost three years, which will be held this weekend in Seoul.
Seotaeji has had an unusual career for a musician who started out in a boy band. As time passed, Seotaeji and Boys ― the group’s name before Seotaeji went solo ― became one of the first groups in the mainstream music industry to experiment with boundaries, challenging the Media Rating Board (then the Performance Ethics Board) with outrageous lyrics that were often critical of social institutions.
His fans’ devotion was almost religious and was often referred to as “a social syndrome.” In 1996, an essay question about Seotaeji’s influence on Korean popular culture was part of a local university entrance exam.
The group broke up that same year, and Seotaeji began recording abroad in Japan and Europe, producing even more experimental music. He brought in completely different styles with each new album. If Seotaeji got his hands on a genre, he made it new again, whether it was pimp rock, hard-core slash metal or simply playing the Korean zither ― all of which he tried, each experiment receiving enormous public attention.
In 2002 Seotaeji organized the ETP Rock Festival, the first international music festival for hard-core rock, with the event production company that also organized “Live Wire.” The event increased local fans’ interest in artists such as Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson and Limp Bizkit.
During his three-day concert in Seoul, which coincides with the launch of his seventh album, Seotaeji is performing with two major-label U.S. rock bands, Korn and Fear Factory, and local independent bands Nell and Pia. There had been rumors among local netizens earlier this year that Korn was very unlikely to show up, because they wouldn’t want to be an opening act for someone else’s show.
The concert is titled “04 Live Wire,” after a new sound amplification system that’ll be used during the shows.
by Park Soo-mee
“Live Wire” began yesterday. The other concerts will take place at the Olympic Park Gymnasium on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. Tickets cost 79,600 won. Take subway line No. 5 to Olympic Park Station. For more information, call (02) 2055-0132.