Sons of an Illustrious Father

Sons of an Illustrious Father returns to Seoul

Story By: Emma Kalka

Photos By: LiveNation

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As soon as the three members of Sons of an Illustrious Father took to the stage at Yes24 Live Hall on May 4, you could feel that you were in for something special.

They didn’t talk much, seamlessly moving from one song to the next on their setlist. But they didn’t really need to. Their music spoke more than enough and if the reaction from the crowd was anything to go by - it was more than enough for them as well.

I will confess - part of the draw for me was the fact that actor Ezra Miller is in the band. He’s a fascinating person, an outspoken activist, and, in general, one of my favorite people in Hollywood at the moment. His quirky, gender-fluid fashion has turned more than a few heads on the red carpet and you can’t help but be drawn to him, no matter what your opinions are on his acting. After meeting him at Comic Con Seoul last August, I was further moved by his bright personality and love for his fans.

That said, I did listen to a lot of their music before the show, deciding immediately that I was into it and putting “Deus Sex Machina: Or, Moving Slowly Beyond Nikola Tesla” on repeat, but still, I was not completely prepared for the joy that was seeing them live.

My friend who accompanied me - who knew nothing about the band or their music - even walked out a new fan, vowing to look into them more.

The three members - Miller, Lilah Larsen, and Josh Aubin - made a strong impression from the get-go, walking out in matching full-length dresses, with Miller and Aubin showcasing impeccable makeup skills. It was a statement of who they are as a band and as individuals - they don’t conform to anything, whether it’s music genres or gender norms.

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While they started with Miller on drums, Larsen on guitar, and Aubin on keyboards, they didn’t stay this way. Every few songs, two or all three would calmly switch instruments, each showing extreme talent no matter what they were playing. They would switch lead vocals nearly as much, each bringing something different that still worked together, whether it was Miller’s growly crooning or Aubin’s slight twang, or Larsen’s higher tones.

The affection they share for each other throughout the show is both subtle and loud at the same time. It wasn’t so much in words - again, they didn’t speak outside of a random “감사합니다” here or there until the first encore - or large actions. It was more that you could feel it. It was in the swift kisses they shared in passing, the short cuddle that Aubin and Larsen shared during “EG,” when both ended up on the stage floor. The way their voices blended together.

And then there was the music.

Sons of an Illustrious Father is known for its genre fluidity - they even call themselves a “genre queer” - moving from the bluesy feel of “Straighty Perry” into “Tooth,” which had more of an electronic feel. But this is nothing new; the band has long been known for this, citing their influences as Nirvana and Patti Smith. They are just as likely to play something dark and angsty just as easily as a tune that you find yourself dancing to. In the same show, they performed the light and airy “History” with its memorable piano chords along with the harsher, darker “EG.”

They even peppered in a few covers - a moving a cappella rendition of Nirvana’s “All Apologies” that had the three standing center stage with no mics and later an alternative version of The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha”.

They ended the main set - which they breezed through in under an hour - with “US Gay”, a song they released shortly after the Pulse nightclub shooting. It’s a powerful song with deep lyrics despite its relatively bright beat. It was during this song that they broke their silence, with Miller shouting at the crowd, “We love you guys so much and really appreciate the love we have in this part of the world!”

After leaving the stage, the expected chorus of “Encore!” came, and it didn’t take long for Miller, Larsen and Aubin to reappear, asking if they had somehow coordinated the shout. The band seemed to loosen up a bit more, playing two more songs including “Post Future” before awkwardly leaving the stage.

The crowd didn’t have to wait nearly as long this time before they once again came back for a second encore, with Miller moving to the keyboard.

“Don’t do that next time. You’re making it impossible to leave,” he chided the audience with a grin.

They did one last song, before finally leaving the stage for good, shouting “Thank you!” and “We love you, Korea!” And no matter how loud or long the audience shouted, eagerly wanting more, there was no third encore. But at the same time, there didn’t need to be. Sons of an Illustrious Father had left their mark.

And, as this was their second appearance in Seoul, you can bet that they will be back.

Sean Choi