Guitar Wolf in Korea for Three Shows with the Rock Tigers

The reigning kings (and their rowdy queen) of Korean rockabilly, the Rock Tigers, are playing three shows in Korea this week with the legendary punk power trio from Japan, Guitar Wolf. These will not be nights of catchy JPop or KPop. As the Rock Tigers themselves put it, they "offer a trend-kill to all that's wrong with the Korean music industry."

BUSAN, South Korea -- Long time rockabilly all-stars, The Rock Tigers, are teaming up with Japan’s, Guitar Wolf, for a show in Busan this Thursday March 1st, followed by a Friday show in Jeonju and one on Saturday in Seoul.

Both bands are well known on international indie-rock circuits with the veteran act of the two, Guitar Wolf, having first formed in 1987, while Korea’s own Rock Tigers and their brand of rockabilly, which they call 'Kimchibilly,' first came together in 2001, led by the charismatic, Velvet Geena.

Though the whole Rock Tiger band, who were featured on CNN, bring an electrifying presence to the stage, eyes in the room seldom leave the lovely and talented Velvet Geena as she makes the entire room her own.

In an interview with Haps last June, Geena shrugged off her atypical role as the “traditional” Korean woman.

“I don't try to be masculine or feminine on stage. I'm just being a rocker,” said Geena. “I don't try to appeal to men or women. But by not trying to appeal to men in the way that "typical" Korean women put so much effort into, perhaps separates me from the norm.”

According to the group's website, the Rock Tigers "offer a trend-kill to all that's wrong with the Korean music industry. Spicing up the classic rockabilly sound, the Rock Tigers are giving you rockabilly that's vintage and modern from Seoul: Kimchibilly. You haven't tasted Seoul until you've had a taste of Kimchibilly."

Geena's presence on stage combined with the tight musicianship of the rest of the band, makes for one of the better live performances you will see anywhere in Asia.

Their counterparts on this brief, three show tour, and the bigger international draw of the two, Guitar Wolf, was one of the original garage punk rock bands to emerge from Japan in the late eighties. Over the years the trio has released nine studio albums internationally as well as a live album, countless singles, and a retrospective compilation called Golden Black. The band members have also been featured in two B-grade science fiction horror movies: Wild Zero and Sore Losers.

According to the music zine, First Avenue: "They strongly believe that the essence of their style originates from the pure fundamentals of rock’n'roll. You can always count on Guitar Wolf to put on the most charismatic performances. Their shows are always loud, chaotic, but at the same time humorous and always unpredictable."

Guitar Wolf is also well known for zany props during their shows, including comically oversized speakers, and microphones that spew fire. On stage there is usually no break between songs as the band frenetically whips through a set that can go on for hours.

Producer and musician, Eric Oblivian, said in an August, 2000 interview that Guitar Wolf was one of his earliest influences back in 1993. “I'd been to the 2nd Garageshock festival and was blown away by their set.”

So impressed was Oblivian with the band, he approached and asked them for a demo tape, which he then used to launch his own label, Goner Records, with the intent of exposing Guitar Wolf to an American audience. Oblivian's Memphis-based label would go on to produce a string of well-known garage and punk bands over the years including  King Louie BankstonThe King Khan & BBQ Show and Digital Leather.

If you are looking to be blown away by two of Asia’s most talented groups of musicians, you can check them out in Busan this Thursday at Vinyl Underground, in Jeonju on Friday and Seoul on Saturday. Not to disagree with Chuck D, but BELIEVE the hype.

You can check out each groups tunes on their MySpace Music Pages:

Guitar Wolf

The Rock Tigers

Rock Tigers VS Guitar Wolf Korea Tour 2012

7pm 1 Mar @Vinyl Underground in Busan/TKT 20,000 won

9pm 2 Mar @Led Zeppelin in Jeonju/TKT 20,000 won

7pm 3 Mar @V-Hall in Seoul/TKT ADV 30,000won, At the door 35,000 won

For more info check out the tour Facebook Page

Velvet Geena photo courtesy of Kim Hak Bae via CNN

Jin Mo Kim contributed to this piece

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