Hailing from Busan in South Korea, indie rock band Say Sue Me came to Tokyo in early April for their first headline show after supporting Luby Sparks in January this year at WWW.
Playing the cozy Tsutaya-O, nestled away from the Shibuya bustle outside, the band was greeted by a welcoming and relaxed international crowd. Kicking off with “Good for Some Reason,” the band seamlessly blended Kim Byungkyu’s complex guitar melodies with energetic drums and bass. They topped this off with vocalist Choi Su-mi’s effortless vocals, sweeping the crowd up into the flow of the setlist.
The natural chemistry and energy the band seem to ooze comes from the strong friendship shared between the members. Even with a false start at one point, the band were so tuned into one another that they were easily able to get back on track. It was uplifting to see the band play in this way, not getting caught up in the pressure to perform perfectly but playing with a genuine enthusiasm simply for performance itself and the chance to share their sound. At the end of certain pieces, Choi even shared in the crowd’s applause by cheering “Yay!”
This charming onstage presence continued during the pauses between songs, Choi using these opportunities to speak to the crowd in Japanese. Her language efforts were met with huge support, with individuals even encouraging her by shouting out the words she was struggling to recall as she explained how much she liked Japan and used to live here in the past.
Whilst drifting in an immersion of upbeat, catchy tunes, such as “I Just Wanna Dance” and “But I Like You,” alongside the slower, haunting songs like “Let it Begin,” some of the intimate and nostalgic lyrics chimed with feelings in my own head. In particular, listening to “Old Town” in the context of the immense urban sprawl of Tokyo, so far away from my own small hometown back in the UK, I found myself empathizing even more with Choi as she sung “All the friends I used to know left this town// Only getting old with this town// I just wanna stay here// But I wanna leave here.”
This contradictory relationship, an uncomfortable balance between the nostalgic attachment to our childhood home and the admission that we have outgrown this shell and must move onto bigger things, is a feeling I hope others in the audience could also relate to and engage with.
After returning to the stage for the encore, the band reiterated how grateful they were to have played. Not only had they traveled and shared their Friday night with us, but they had also shared parts of who they were, what their music stood for and, perhaps most importantly, shared the fun of performance with their audience. Let’s hope the rest of 2019 continues in this same vein, and that they make it back to Japan again soon.