SXSW Music Live: No Brain

Seoul’s answer to Green Day

Most punk bands fall prey to the eventual “inactive” hiatus or flame-out. No Brain’s different. Proving age is but a number, the veteran South Koreans attested to their international longevity to a packed house Friday night at the Belmont.

Photo by John Leach

Boasting a career spanning two decades and over 10 albums and other compilations, the Seoul fourpiece pulled out all the stops of punk brigadiers: shirtless antics, anthemic galvanizations, and black-clad everything. Capping their set at just under an hour, they stuck to their strengths: distorted, Marshall-stacked guitars, fast drum work, fat melodies, and unbridled energy.

Their performance swirled a maelstrom of syncopated guitar shuffles and aggressive progressions, dissonant solos breaking up radio-friendly choruses familiar to any fan of classic rock, Nineties grunge, and even ska. Despite No Brain’s range of influences, each song funneled a concise pop-punk gem.

Despite their chosen genre’s simplistic instrumentation, they make up for it in showmanship. Frontman Sungwoo “Bulldaegal” Lee radiated charisma that rammed through the language barrier as he led the crowd through rallying cries while thrashing in a corporeal and wild-eyed fervor on “넌 내게 반했어.” On “A Glass of Soju,” drummer Hyunsung “Dolly” Hwang lent his deranged screams, while guitarist Minjun “Vovo” Jung literally lunged at the audience.

With crunched guitar propulsion and repetitive “ooo” yells in “Your Crush on Me,” and metal-compressed brigades and catchy hooks on “Party Like Crazy,” No Brain surely has at least another couple of decades in ’em.

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