My experience with KPop is fairly limited. When I lived in Iowa the college radio station had a show on some afternoons where they would play that style of music for an hour or two, and I would listen if I was driving around the city. It was interesting, but nothing I followed up with or would check out on my own time. Recently, I’ve noticed I’m digging more into it. Maybe it was the Olympics being held in South Korea or the warming relationship between the North and South that drew me in, but I’m enjoying it regardless of the reason.
Last night I had the chance to see two rappers that are really big in Korea and it was very exciting. My first ever KPop show and it was Mad Clown and San E. They even brought out up-and-coming star Sobae, who went to school right here in Chicago at Northwestern! I was only familiar with a little bit of each rapper’s work, so I really had no idea what to expect.
About 15 minutes before showtime a dance crew came to the stage as a warm up act and did a few dance routines to KPop songs. They were really good and the audience was getting fired up hearing some of their favorite hits. After a few rounds of different groupings, Sobae came out to perform her new single “Homegirl.” Her Chicago people were out in full effect, cheering wildly when she finished.
The anticipation in the crowd was as high as I’ve ever felt as DJ Juice came to the stage. He hit the airhorns and amped up the crowd a bit before bringing out Mad Clown and San E. For both performers this was their first show in Chicago, and the emotions from the fans was palpable. During the second song a girl in front of me started crying and I could tell it was going to be a very special show.
My first impressions was that the two have great chemistry. They’ve known each other for a long time and can go back and forth with ease. San E seems like the wild one, jumping around and running past everyone in the audience doling out high fives. Mad Clown had an intense, more reserved energy.
They kicked off with 20 minutes of just doing features, so their verses from other artist’s songs. This felt very much like a regular American hip-hop show. After that they brought two fans up on stage to decide which one of them would perform solo first by playing a game of rock, paper, scissors. The winner chose Mad Clown to go first, stating she wanted to “save the best for last.”
Once he got the mic for a solo set, more of Mad Clown’s personality came through. He was funny and open about his life and work. He told a great story about getting married and then writing the song “Love Is A Dog From Hell.” He was connecting with fans from the front to the back, leaning in for selfies and rapping right into their cameras.
San E brought his frenetic energy back to the stage once Mad Clown’s time was up, and the vibe changed immediately. San E was kicking and dancing, making the crowd jump right along with him. The performance took a sexy turn when he played his hit “Body Language.”
They hosted a dance party on stage with the winners receiving signed CD’s and hats. Then the show culminated with Mad Clown, San E, and Sobae on stage for the last few songs, including the newest single “Butterfly.”
I was impressed with how they performed, both solo and as a duo. There was a real feel-good, positive vibe that ran through the venue for the duration of the show. Hopefully they get the chance to come back to the States and play even more concerts for the fans in cities they didn’t make it to this time.