The Korean rock-and-roll band Rolling Quartz made their presence known onstage at Otakon‘s Friday Night K-Pop Show. Composed of the guitarists Iree, Yeong, and Hyunhung, lead vocalist Jayoung, bassist Areum, and drummer Yeongeun, the quintet’s electrifying performance marked their international debut, serving up their brand of glammy pop-punk to a wave of new fans.
As their first show in America, the group started the show properly with their own variation of the American National Anthem. Starting off as an instrumental, the song transformed itself into a soaring rock aria when Jayong’s vocals entered the frame. The rock-and-roll intensity only continued as the band blared through a cavalcade of their own tunes, such as the bass-drum heaviness of “Delight,” the razor-sharp pop-punk of “Blaze,” and the glammed-up goth of “Azalea.”
But perhaps the biggest moments of the night came with their spectacularly done covers. The band played Paramore‘s “Misery Business” early on the night to help set up their pop-punk stylings. Towards the end of the night, they played a wildly maniacal cover of Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild” that ended with the audience shrieking and howling with pure exuberance. But the best part of the night? When they ended with My Chemical Romance’s “Helena,” which brought everybody to their knees (myself included).
Rolling Quartz’s performance was sandwiched in between the two K-pop acts Alexa and PixY. While Rolling Quartz was the lesser-known of the three, their Friday night performance won them a slew of new fans, many of whom came swarming into their Q&A panel on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been an amazing and enjoyable experience to come here,” drummer Yeongeun said to the panel audience. “Going forward, hopefully for a very long time, we can have more experiences like this.”
The girl group was asked by members of the audience to further explain what it was like coming to America. “Korea’s very very pretty,” Arem said. “But coming to America, it’s like everything’s a painting here.”
Iree then chimed in with a quip and a giggle: “The food is very good.”
With the group’s debut being at one of the biggest anime conventions in the American East Coast, there was no shortage of anime-related questions. When asked what they’ve always wanted to cosplay as, Yeongeun and Jayoung quickly turned to Pokémon for some ideas, while Hyunjung expressed a desire to cosplay as DARLING in the FRANXX‘s own Zero Two.
Of course, they did delve into their musical origins, citing punk rock as a huge influence for them as a group. Funnily enough, when asked why she chose bass as her musical weapon of choice, Arem equipped, “Because it was the only instrument left.” The audience giggled at this, but as someone who’s been involved in local rock groups, I can say this is a pretty relatable experience.
When asked what her favorite guitar solo of all time was, they didn’t reach for the generic answer of something by Led Zeppelin or Queen. They instead said their favorite solos were the ones they created. “I like a lot of different solos,” Iree said. “But the solo for “Higher” is mine. I practiced so much so I could get it correct.” Meanwhile, Hyunjung said that her favorite solo was the one off of Rolling Quartz’s “Good Night.”
Anime News Network was fortunate enough to ask a few questions in a quick one-on-one interview with the members of Rolling Quartz.
Why did you choose a more aggressive rock sound than the usual K-Pop style?
Iree: I love rock. That’s it.
Yeongeun: Pop rock is really, really good. It energizes the audience more and it’s really nice to feed off of that atmosphere.
I noticed you have a mid 00’s emo/80’s glam aesthetic in both your imagery and your music. Are there any other bands from that era who were a major influence on you?
Yeongeun: There’s this Japanese band ONE OK ROCK. They have a very similar style to the emo era.
Iree: I listen to a lot of 80s and 90s rock. Some 70s stuff. Stone Roses. Ozzy Osbourne. Red Hot Chili Peppers. A punk band called Crying Nut.
Are there any new projects you’re excited about?
Jayoung: We are working on an all-new album we hope that everybody can enjoy.
Besides simply coming to America, what inspired you to perform the American national anthem?
Yeongeun: I saw Muse play the Korean national anthem and it was really cool. And I felt happy, so I wanted to make the people happy as well.