For Tortured Soul, it will always be about the music

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For Tortured Soul, it will always be about the music

On Saturday night at Woo Bar in the Walkerhill Hotel, there was many a tortured soul. Luckily, for the most part, that was the idea, as trendy wannabes, small-time celebrities and anyone who would hope to call themselves “cool” came out in force to enjoy the musical stylings of New York band Tortured Soul.
Tortured Soul’s name is derived from the contradictions in the band’s concept; they aim to play house music live on traditional instruments, even though it is a style of music usually produced by modern musical technology behind the scenes and brought to the crowds by way of computers and turntables. The band also attempts to reconcile soul with house, which purists know do not fit together.
They were supported by a line-up of international musicians.
Woo Bar was the perfect forum for Tortured Soul’s stylish brand of seeming incongruities, as a new bar almost too fashionable for its own good. As the show began, there was a tense sense of forced coolness in the air. The promoters made dramatic attempts at seeming too busy to welcome any guests, a graffiti artist painting one of the MINI Coopers scattered around the bar tried to seem aloof and artistic, as if he was not just a hired advertisement.
The awkwardly shuffling ticketholders unwilling to wait in the half-hour coat check line-up swayed self-consciously to the music with their coats over their arms, sipping 15,000 won cocktails as slowly as possible. Dancehall M.C. Gold Tea did his best to get them to “Say yea!” but was spurned.
Upstairs in the invite-only VIP room, where the drinks were free, those lucky enough to have schmoozed their way in lounged on ergonomic furniture, soaked up the floor-to-ceiling view of the half moon hanging lazily over the yellow night lights along the Han River, and felt sorry for those crammed into the melee downstairs.
But as Tortured Soul hit the stage in their trademark white shirts and black ties, everyone remembered they were only there for the music. The band’s soulful house turned the sardine-tight dancefloor into a sea of waving hands. Frontman John-Christian Urich pounded his drums as he wailed the band’s hit songs, such as “I Might Do Something Wrong,” from their debut album “Introducing Tortured Soul,” the lights glinting off of his shaved head.
Keyboardist Ethan White and bassist JKriv filled out the made-for-dancing sound, and had the crowd eating out of their hands. The sound transcended the constrictive stereotypes of style that the venue had placed upon itself, proving, once again, that music is the great equalizer.


By Richard Scott-Ashe Contributing Writer [richard@joongang.co.kr]
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