Goonam Tattoo Rock Parlour, Toronto, ON, March 21

Goonam Tattoo Rock Parlour, Toronto, ON, March 21
Photo: Kevin Jones
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Surprises, by their nature, often come in the most unexpected places, and CMW's Korean rock showcase at Toronto's Tattoo Rock Parlour proved to be just that. In front of a crowd of enthusiastic compatriots (some clearly fans, but all ready to move), retro-rockers Goonam laid out a slick and summery blend of '70s-era grooves rich with hypnotic bass lines, smile-inducing melodies, and an endless shower of expert guitar licks and gallivanting solos.

While hints of a heavier rock aesthetic were never too far from the surface, that footing always played a restrained backseat to the far more melodic tingles of soul, blues and electro moods that soaked the room and left few in attendance standing still. Goonam's two bass- and guitar-playing frontmen showed an unbreakable, seasoned cool as they slyly made light of their own limited English, speaking at times in textbook ESL phrases and, at one point, toying with the correct pronunciation of "Canadian" to the delight of the predominantly Korean crowd.

That dry wit surfaced again during a song about the ho-hum life of one-night stands, while choreographed yells and each band member's own onstage exuberance made their already joyous jams even more infectious. Founding member and bassist Lim Byeong Hack leaving the stage and joining the crowd on the floor to finish the final track proved a fitting ending to what was a thoroughly impressive set.

If there was one low note, it's that more festivalgoers outside of the understandably in-the-know Korean attendees weren't around to see the show.