HYUKOH at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds—Live Review
Hongdae’s finest indie band bring class and style to the Brudenell Social Club.
It’s been a rapid-yet-deserved ascent to the top for the South-Korean Indie band HYUKOH. Since their debut in 2014 as part of a Hongdae music scene famous for underground, grassroots indie rock, the four-piece—Oh Hyuk (Vocal, Guitar), Im Dong-geon (Bass), Lee Inwoo (Drums), Lim Hyunjae (Guitar)—have honed and developed themselves as a band that has the potential to define a generation, and one that provides the youth of today with a voice, as well as with an outlet for their feelings to be understood. The relatability and candidness of the music is something that connects with many; a point proved firmly by the audience at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, this past Thursday (July 18).
It was an intimate evening, and one that came with lofty expectations as hundreds of people of differing backgrounds queued around the block in the summer sun ahead of seeing the band’s first headline show in Leeds. Throughout the one hour set, there was minimal conversation with the crowd and no real time to get to know the band on a deeper level, but more importantly, it didn’t lessen the quality of the performance. After all, this isn’t a band that relies on intense choreography, grand spectacles and witty anecdotes placed between songs; the music speaks for itself, and it’s clear that it was the polished-yet-raw sonic stylings that the crowd came for.
In terms of the setlist itself, it was one that started off strong and refused to falter. As soon as the tone-heavy “Wanli Wanli” kicked-off with its meticulous melodies, catchy drum-beats and haunting vocal performance, it was evident that no punches were going to be pulled throughout the night. It was a bold and confident move to start the show with such an epic of a track, but one that showed that HYUKOH aren’t just here to play around, but to spread their message and music across the globe.
From there, it was all about fusing deep-cuts with fan-favourites. Luckily, an immense cocktail of their discography’s chart anthems and revered B-sides was delivered, and whether it was an impassioned, rough-around-the-edges performance of “Gang Gang Schiele” or a carefree singalong that “LOVE YA” was happy to provide, the fans in attendance were hooked on every single note. It’s music like this that transcends any barriers and can find a home in any household.
Continuing, the chosen set for Thursday night’s concert flowed perfectly throughout the hour, and it was because of this that the show felt mile-a-minute. “Citizen Kane,” in all its pace-filled glory, felt comfortable beside “Hooka,” something a lot more laidback in its melodies and delivery. It’s a testament to the band that their material can stay so diverse yet always work when put together, as it no doubt aids their live performance tenfold.
In terms of a highlight, it’s hard to focus in on one aspect of the show, as everything provided its own unique colour and stamped its own quality-filled mark on the event. The rawness of performing “Graduation” in a lower vocal key felt inspired, and the ethereal emotion of “TOMBOY” as the show’s encore is something difficult to truly put into words, yet depending on who you ask out of the lucky 400 in attendance as to what their favourite part of the show was, you’ll most likely receive a different answer. If anything, though, that’s yet another credit to HYUKOH, as they have carved out a discography in five short years that has countless classics and an array of material that people can become attached to and anticipate hearing in a live setting.
All in all, it was a show without missteps and a fantastic showing of the idiosyncratic music that the four-piece will continue to develop on over time. But, perhaps more sincerely, this band is more than just interesting fashion choices, accessible anthems, and music that is packed full of meaning and a sense of honesty that the chart fails to provide us with. This is something special, and this is a band that is slowly showing the world that music made from the heart still matters, and can connect, resonate, and bring together a generation often pigeon-holed as lost or disillusioned. There’s great difficultly in pinpointing where HYUKOH’s potential can take them, but one thing’s for sure: They’re just getting started, and the growing masses of people that find comfort in these songs are more than ready to stay for the ride.