South Korea’s Dongyang Gozupa are no strangers to the UK, having made their London debut in 2021. Now they’re back for their first jaunt across these shores, the first date of which is in the Studio venue inside Coventry’s rather nifty Warwick Arts Centre.
As we enter the venue door staff hand out earplugs and warn of dangerous noise levels (which is a good sign) on what promises to be a loud evening. There’s a palpable tension crackling through the air as we await the band, and the subtle blue light which bathes the stage dances on the band’s instruments and heightens the air of expectation. When they arrive it’s in typically understated fashion, yet no less powerful, with drummer Jang Do Hyuk dancing to a tribal beat and bassist Ham Min Huri, attacking his instrument like a lead guitarist and dictates a heavy rhythm. The two combine to create a hefty sound, and it’s one that makes the venue pulsate and breathe, but this weight is juxtaposed by Yun Eun Hura playing the lithe yanggeum (Korean metal-stringed zither) and the two opposites find an equilibrium and work in harmony.
I once saw a performance of Cabaret (pre-Covid) in this venue, and it’s a space that works equally well as a concert hall. Dongyang Gozupa seem to exist in a parallel universe where Led Zeppelin are jamming with Ravi Shanker and Sun Ra, and the sound the create finds East meeting West, and in dramatic fashion. Led Zeppelin is a good point of reference when thinking about Dongyang Gozupa, not only do they share many sonic similarities and a sense of invention, but Jang Do Hyuk attacks his kit like John Bonham and makes good use of light and shade and musical dynamics. With no guitarist in the band Yun Eun Hura’s dulcimer adds plenty of treble, and while she sits centre stage sandwiched between two heavy hitters, there’s no danger in her being overshadowed, and she more than holds her own with some dexterous and dizzying playing which holds the audience spellbound.
Tonight’s set is largely culled from the band’s sophomore album KYUL, and it’s a set that finds them shapeshifting and avoiding easy categorisation as they flit between folk metal, progressive and post rock. However, we go back to the band’s genesis for the gig’s finale and a track from their debut 2018 EP, Gap, and a sublime version of ‘Spirit’ brings the curtain down to rapturous applause.
- Reviewed by Peter Dennis.