Bursters @ The Mill, 16th July 2019

Exploding from South Korea are Bursters, a band conceived in much the same way as almost any other rock band that you would care to mention the world over…well, up to a point at least. A group of friends form a band in the humblest of beginnings, working jobs that slowly chip away at their resolve, spending every other moment honing their craft in the hope of achieving their dream of playing music for a living. Pipe dreams for the many, with only a lucky few being able to make the cut. Things looked less than great for Bursters, but then in 2014 their dreams became a very real possibility when the band were scooped up by the talent television show ‘Superstar K’, and thereafter, the group’s trajectory was firmly thrust into the limelight.

Bursters appearance on the South Korean equivalent to Britain’s Got Talent and would appear to be at odds with their alternative hardcore rock sensibilities, particularly so when set against the torrent of K-Pop performers prodded and primed for stardom with whom they were expected to compete – the group would eventually secure sixth place and be heralded as the purveyors of K-Rock in their native South Korea. Their connection to the show has certainly enabled them to progress their careers, but it will be interesting to see whether such connotations will impede their ability to made headway outside of South Korea.

Bursters stop-off in Birmingham finds them playing only their second show of a debut tour that has taken them outside of South Korea for the first time. Several interviews with band members have seen a reiteration that this tour is a big deal and it would be completely reasonable for there to be signs of nerves from the young quintet – Daegun Roh: Lead Vocalist, Junyong Ahn: Guitarist, Gyejin Lee: Guitarist, Hwanhee Jo: Bassist and Taehee Jo: Drummer. Following a brief voiceover introduction that outlines the band’s philosophy to dispel discrimination and remove barriers through music, the group converge on the elevated stage and launch into ‘Hero’, a song which endeavours to cram as many songwriting hooks into four minutes as is humanly possible.

If there are any nerves, then the band do a fine job of covering them up, and their enthusiasm is most commendable given the venue’s capacity is barely infringed upon, there is ample opportunity in which to roam though there are an enthused line of fans that dominate the front barrier. This lack of footfall might be more to do with ticket prices being pitched in and around the twenty pound price point. An ample sum for a band that are virtually unknowns in the UK and perhaps the promoter might have been better advised to have selected a less opulent venue for their first outing.

As we are all too fully aware, the current period we live in affords the use of social media to promote an idealised version of ourselves and if you were to review any Bursters related social media following tonight’s show then you would have no idea that the band had performed to a smaller gathering.

Bursters songwriting checks all the boxes within the genre they are operating. Songs like ‘Scarface’, ‘Dreamer’ and latest single ‘Barriers’, borrow familiar flourishes from the likes of My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds To Mars and Linkin Park – the band manage to pull off an excellent cover of  Linkin Park’s ‘New Divide’ as they shift between songs penned in their native Korean and English. The bands repertoire thus far is melodic, well structured and prone to more than a few thumping choruses, all of which leave the fervent few chanting for “one more song” at the culmination of ‘Lost Child’.

There can be no criticism of Bursters as they perform with the same gusto that you imagine they would were they performing in front of thousands. In fact, the band does a sterling job in maintaining a genuine vigour and energy in the room for the duration. In lead vocalist, Daegun Roh, the band have a leader with a vocal range that spans the gamut of the hardcore prerequisites, and he also manages to nail almost every rock ‘n’ roll gait ever devised.

It will be interesting to see how things progress for Bursters as they are still in the process of putting together a fully fledged debut album. They are knocking at the door with their K-Rock “revolution”. Let’s see just how far their obvious desire, humility and work ethic will take them.

Review: Chris Curtis
Photos: Chris Bowley


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