Say Sue Me: The Crescent, York — Review

South Korean indie band Say Sue Me — who boast support from some of BBC 6 Music’s finest, including Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft — played York’s Crescent on the 19th October. URY Music’s Rachel Davies was there to soak up the evening’s events, and here’s her review of the night.

When I booked tickets to see Say Sue Me, my anticipation levels were high. After all, they are on the same label as Shonen Knife, the J-Rock band that Kurt Cobain fanboyed over. To be honest, I’m not old enough to remember the bands that Shonen Knife pay homage to (perhaps The Beach Boys and Echo and the Bunnymen), although listening to their music is a nice introduction to Say Sue Me’s genre — described as “surf-inspired indie rock” by their record label, Damnably.

Four-piece Say Sue Me founded in Busan, South Korea

Even though Say Sue Me only played SXSW this year, they have been performing as a quartet since 2012, with the guitarist and the bassist having prior performance experience with other bands. (It was also announced just a few days ago that they are going to perform at next year’s SXSW.)

The band hail from South Korea, so it was nice to have the opportunity to see a more mature and experienced act, as, at present, the major focus of the South Korean music scene for people of my age group has been excessive, plastic-wrapped K-pop. In fact, this is probably why I admire Say Sue Me’s chilled-out, minimalist aesthetic so much.

The fairy lights strung from the ceiling of the venue

So what was the venue like — The Crescent? Well, as a new student who hasn’t seen the full range of York’s hidden music venues, this place had a cosy, casual atmosphere that reminded me of a local British Legion. And, to be honest, I preferred it to a more cramped venue where similar bands might pitch themselves up for the evening. It was spacious and the ceiling was prettily lit with fairy lights strung from the back wall to the stage. There was also a huge dance floor, but there wasn’t any moshing. Anyway, you don’t mosh to surf indie, you nod your head, sway, and count along to a 4/4 variation played on a snare and high-hat.

Sewage Farm supporting Say Sue Me at The Crescent

However, I wouldn’t categorise the support act, Sewage Farm, as a surf rock band. Their vibe was definitely more punchy and heavy, reminiscent of both Blur and The Stone Roses. Not so much Britpop could be heard in their music, but there were definite hints of a Madchester longing in their performance, but that maybe had something to do with their lead singer sounding exactly like Ian Brown. Not that that was a negative thing, though, as here in York, people can be quite partial to throwback music.

Say Sue Me took to the stage at around 9:40pm, and, even though their music had more of a delicate charm about it, they still showed the crowd that introverts can rock out!

Although lead singer, Sumi Choi did have a fairly light and mumbling singing voice, it contrasted well with the rapidity of the drums — played by Changwon Kim — and the technically intricate guitar riffs of both Sumi and Byungkyu Kim. Unfortunately, the band’s original bassist wasn’t able to tour with them that evening, so, instead, they had a bit of cordial banter with their stand-in (making light of the fact that he was the only British guy on stage, for example). And, when their treble pedal malfunctioned, just before the encore, Sumi told the audience that it “got tired”. One thing I did admire about Say Sue Me is that they didn’t try too hard with their showmanship; just being themselves onstage was enough to make the audience laugh — genuinely — along with them.

Say Sue Me, from left to right: Changwon, Sumi, and Byungkyu

My favourite songs of the night were ‘Old Town and ‘But I Like You’, both of which are taken from Say Sue Me’s new album: When We Were Together. The album itself is definitely a nice introduction to Korean Indie rock, a genre which is still fairly niche to the majority of western listeners so I hope that the album can aid the further exposure of this to a larger cohort of them.

Overall, the gig was a great way to spend a Friday night, and I was able to listen to a fantastic international act, inspired by a Western genre, deliver their sound to a receptive local audience. As someone new to this area, Say Sue Me’s performance has inspired me to look out for more gems of the indie rock scene around York, as well as other work from international musicians. Well done Say Sue Me (and Sewage Farm)!