Hearing the name ”Waikiki Band” might bring up colorful images of hoola-hoola skirts, dormant volcanoes that might start spewing lava in any second, and ukulele-players performing their own version of “Somewhere over the rainbow”. Well, don’t judge a book by its name.
Waikiki Brothers is both a band and a movie. Actually, many Koreans know the movie but do not know that there is still an active band with the same name. The band is led by professional guitarist Hun Choi with a career of over 35 years as a guitarist. When he does not perform or produce music, he also helps up and coming amateur bands by rearranging difficult music pieces to better suit the skills of particular bands. Sometimes he even joins them for the occasional, spontaneous performance.
The particular performance I visited was a very well-prepared part of a concert series spanning about one month. Arranged by Emu Artspace, in cooperation with National Geographic, this concert series is called “회식” (“Afterwork”) and encourages people who work in the Gwanghwamun area to enjoy a relaxed evening with their coworkers without falling into the mainstream trap of “dinner – drinking place – karaoke room”.
Hun Choi is reaching his late 50s but his vitality on stage easily compares to anyone 20 or 30 years younger than him. The band played a repertoire of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Eagles, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, some Korean songs and much more. Hun Choi on acoustic and electric guitar, accompanied by four other band members on keyboard, drums, bass and acoustic guitar, the band really brought the basement location to the roof with their energy.
As a non-Korean who has basically zero interest in Korean stars and K-pop, it is always encouraging to see that Korea actually still has artists who play music that forms an alternative to the constant K-pop being blasted in restaurants and make-up stores. The building has a concert venue in the basement, a Mediterranean restaurant on the first floor, and a movie theatre on the second floor. It’s nestled in the area between Gyeongbokkgung station and Gwanghwamun station, just behind Seoul Museum of History.
Future dates: August 24 and August 31
Price: 50,000W (includes dinner and one drink)
Max. capacity: 100 people