“Happy Wednesday.” Choi Su-mi looks out from the Crescent stage, her face wreathed in smiles. She sees scores of happy, smiling faces looking back at her. This is the second time that Say Sue Me – the South Korean band that she fronts – have played the Crescent in a year. They clearly like the place. And the Crescent undoubtedly feels exactly the same way about them.
Say Sue Me are approaching the end of an extensive European tour, a tour that has included appearances at festivals in this country (Green Man) and Germany (Golden Leaves and Reeperbahn) as well as numerous other dates in France, Sweden, Denmark, and Poland. Just four nights ago they were in Holland. They seem to have been touring forever, well at least pretty much constantly since I first saw them about 18 months ago in Leeds when they were supporting Japanese garage-punk outfit Otoboke Beaver.
And the difference in their live presentation since that time is clear to see and hear. The earlier uncertainty in their on-stage demeanour has been replaced by a quietly understated confidence. Any tentativeness in their music has long since gone; the tunes that they play somehow sound much more vigorous, more physically robust. The dreamy-pop sensibility that had previously infused their songs still remains present and correct but has been joined in concert by more bite and venom.
Formed in 2012 in South Korea’s second largest city of Busan, Say Sue Me are Choi Su-mi (vocals and guitar), guitarist and songwriter Kim Byung-kyu, and bassist Ha Jae-young along with touring drummer Kim Chang-won. With Busan’s hip art-districts and spectacular seaside beaches it has earned a reputation as the San Francisco of East Asia. It is therefore perhaps little wonder that Say Sue Me’s music is often described as surf rock, though to these ears at least such a term is misleading. The sound that the quartet produces probably owes far more to that of indie-pop, with added grit, determination and some equal measures of sadness and joy.
Two albums and a handful of EPs into their recording career, Say Sue Me tear into a selection of songs from these records with chiming, occasionally fuzz-laden guitars which echo the influences of Teenage Fanclub, The House of Love and The Jesus and Mary Chain. They also give us a new song that will be upon us next month and a delightful cover of Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’. Everyone’s happy nowadays. Well, at least they are here this Wednesday evening in York’s Crescent Community Venue.
Photos: Simon Godley
More photos from this show are HERE