Right along the busy Hollywood Blvd is an indiscreet, unmarked entrance that would only catch your attention once the bouncers have made themselves comfortable and the ropes have been set up. I had been going in circles trying to find Dim Mak Studios, where Korean rock band Galaxy Express were to play. I had seen them during SXSW in Austin, Texas, and wanted to see what the experience would be like in Los Angeles.
It seemed like a happening area, even after the show was over. Standing bodies filled the sidewalk waiting to get into the nearby restaurant Beso or into Dim Mak Studios for another performance. Definitely a club vibe.
Going inside, I immediately found myself in a small stairway that led to a dimly lit open space with a few couches and a bar. It looked very nice and was very unexpected after seeing the plain exterior. That was no place for a band to play though, so I continued to walk on following the voice of on-stage banter.
I had walked into an even bigger room, with a lit stage and a raised area in the back right near another bar.
Coming in to the sounds of galactic sounds of Galaxy Express was the best feeling, as it brought back memories of being in Austin, Texas, during their tour last year amidst the SXSW craziness. Seeing a band in one city definitely leaves an impression that you may or may not notice, and that experience sticks with you. I couldn’t help compare the two shows. While the Austin shows (I saw them at Tom’s Tabooley and at the UT campus) sure brought back familiar memories, I can’t ignore the fact that more fans came out in Los Angeles.
1. Noise on Fire (from Noise on Fire)
2. Cha! Cha! Cha! Cha! (from Galaxy Express)
3. Soldier (from Noise on Fire)
4. Daybreak Snowfield (from Noise on Fire)
5. Horongbul (A Little Lamp) (from Galaxy Express)
6. Dawn (from Noise on Fire)
7. Jungle the Black (from Noise on Fire)
8. Bye Bye Planet (from Noise on Fire)
Fans were dancing to the songs and reciprocating the energy that Galaxy Express so expertly and enthusiastically exudes. I couldn’t help admiring the band’s performance — it had just as much intensity back in Texas even when the crowd was not as big.
Galaxy Express had built up the energy throughout the set and near the end, the release was a spectacle to watch. Bodies swung, guitars spun dangerously on their straps, and band members hopped atop one another. A two-tier music monstrosity wobbled about the stage, the members still playing and hyping up the audience until the very last second. The end of the power-packed set must have been disorienting for a crowd that had been consumed in a heavy noise just moments before.
Between sets, there was a male and female host smartly dressed and equipped with mics to provide commentary and introduce the rest of the bands: Goonam, Lowdown 30, and No Brain. Goonam play retro-electro rock and put on a fun, danceable live show, Lowdown 30 do laid back blues rock with a punch, and No Brain’s punk ended the action-packed night with a crazy frontman that fed off of the wild crowd of jumping, singing, stage-diving fans.
It was a great end to Galaxy Express’ US tour, their third American tour since 2011, and followed up by the Korea Rocks UK tour earlier this month.
top image: Galaxy Express courtesy photo