Back in February or so I caught a rumor that NOFX would be playing in Seoul, South Korea, where I'm currently working. I was cautiously optimistic about it though, because Korea's punk scene seems as though it is passed over by established bands in favor of Japan. When I finally received an official announcement from NOFX several weeks later that a Seoul date would be included as part of their "Pacific Rim Job" tour, I was absolutely stoked.
The venue that hosted the show, the Rolling Hall, was actually rather small, given NOFX's popularity (at least in the States). For those familiar with the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio, the floor area is comparable in size. I'd estimate that it fit maybe 200-250 people. Opening the show were three Korean bands and one band hailing from Japan: Shorty Cat, Same Old Story, Good 4 Nothing (Japan), and the Strikers.
Although I ditched out of work early to catch the show, I still arrived in the midst of Shorty Cat's set. The all-girl band played a really catchy brand of pop-punk. I'm pretty awful with comparisons, but I'd say that they were in the same vein as Screeching Weasel / Teenage Bottlerocket / the Lillingtons / any number of other bands drawing heavily from the Ramones. They were really tight musically and I genuinely enjoyed their set, but they lacked any real stage presence, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Honestly, the next three bands sort of blended together for me. They all played the same brand of poppy/melodic rock, with the occasional "scream-o" yelp. Umm...the bass player from Same Old Story had a Suicidal Tendencies hat, which is pretty cool if you're into them, I guess. Although Same Old Story, Good 4 Nothing, and the Strikers were really good at their particular branch of punk/rock, my favorite part about their respective sets was that they didn't exceed 20 minutes. A bit cruel, but true.
About 25 minutes after the Strikers finished up their set, NOFX took the stage. As expected, they talked/joked for a few minutes amongst themselves and members of the audience before starting up an intro that lead into "Dinosaurs Will Die." At this point, the audience went off dancing, gesturing towards the band, and singing along. Early on in the set the speakers on the right side of the stage went out, garbling the vocals and one of the guitars, but barring that the band played pretty damn well. Between songs, Fat Mike and El Hefe spouted off on Christianity, George W. Bush, the military presence in Iraq (and even went off on a couple of loud-mouthed soldiers in attendance), the difficulties of finding drugs in Korea, and how playing the show set them back nearly $5,000. Also worth noting is that whenever the band fucked up, they'd hand out bottles of soju (a dirt-cheap Korean liquor made with rice) to the audience. Although I didn't get to see "The Decline" performed in its entirety for the second year in a row, the personal song highlights for me were "Perfect Government," "Franco Un-American," "Eat the Meek" (although they fucked it up and didn't make it all the way through), "Scavenger Type," and "Bottles to the Ground." The entire set list, in order, was:
- Intro/Dinosaurs Will Die
- Perfect Government
- Franco Un-American
- Seeing Double at the Triple Rock
- Scavenger Type
- Stickin' in My Eye
- Eat the Meek
- What's the Matter with Parents Today?
- Leaving Jesusland
- An instrumental with El Hefe on trumpet listed as "New Herb"
- 'Seoul' Doubt (Fat Mike couldn't refrain from making the lame pun)
- Murder the Government
- The Brews
- Radio (Rancid cover)
- A Bad Religion cover (not written into the set list)
- She's Nubs
- I'm Telling Tim
- Instant Crassic
- Can't Get the Stink Out
- See Her Pee
- Bottles to the Ground
After finishing up "Bottles to the Ground," El Hefe said, "Hey, keep yelling for a bit, we'll be back in about 30 seconds to play an encore." Sure enough, roughly thirty seconds later, the band came back out and played "Linoleum" and "Kill All the White Men." One final note: Before the Rancid cover the band said, "We're going to play a cover of one of the greatest punk bands that will never play in Seoul!" and before the Bad Religion cover the band said, "Here's another cover of one of the greatest punk bands that will never play here!"
Here are some pictures from the show: