With the highly anticipated Korea Spotlight, hosted by KOCCA (Korean Creative Content Agency) on March 13th in Austin, Texas finally coming to an end, here’s a recap of a memorable night filled with different artists, from different genres all from South Korea coming together for a notable performance.
Lines could already be seen from afar, wrapped around Moody Theatre as early as 11 A.M. even though doors didn’t open until 6:30 P.M. In those lines were dedicated Chung Ha fans and iKONIC’s (iKON’s fandom name). It was pretty impressive to say the least, knowing that Chung Ha and iKON were the very last two to perform later on that night, but the fans were prepared and anxious.
The opening act this year was the South Korean, post-rock band, Jambinai. A band that incorporates traditional Korean instruments like the geomungo, (a traditional Korean stringed musical instrument of the zither family of instruments) the piri, (a Korean double reed instrument, used in both the folk and classical music of Korea) and the haegeum (a traditional Korean string instrument, resembling a fiddle) into their heavy, ambient concept making for a very unique sound. With traditional Korean rhythms and tones, it was refreshing for new listeners and to top it off, their intense energy and innovation on stage made the band a very exciting and rising act to watch. Screams and applauses began to roar throughout the venue just after a few minutes of the band performing. You could really see the band pour their heart and soul into their performance which left almost the entire venue in awe and it was only the first act.
Up next was Kirara and I don’t think any of us were ready. If you aren’t familiar with Kirara, this musician is a solo electronic artist who uses polyrhythms and a plethora of chiptune, video game-like sounds to make unique beats. An essential to using polyrhythms, she’s able to make songs that are effortless and convoluted at the same time, which makes her music cheerful and groovy for people to dance along to. It was almost like being in a club, even Kirara herself, could be seen getting into the music on stage. She gave it her all and had the crowd pumped and yearning for more, even though they could be seen becoming a bit weary because of the amount of jumping and fist pumping that was involved.
Then came XXX, an experimental rap and hip-hop duo consisting of bilingual rapper, Kim Ximya and producer, FRNK who crafts a blend of rap with electronic elements. Their musical style can be described as “dark hip-hop with a frenetic electro edge”. Which made sense because it was a completely different vibe and was definitely not your average hip-hop sound, but it was pleasing to the audience as it gave them time to wind down and mellow out to the edgy, hip-hop style the duo had to offer. After their act was over the men expressed their gratitude and thanked the audience for taking the time out to really listen to what they had in store for the crowd and made their way off stage. Before getting completely back stage FRNK noticed a fan with their album in one hand and a sharpie marker in the other and signaled Kim Ximya over to the young fan. It was very touching to see them so humbly sign her album, as she congratulated them on their success so far. These guys may have looked intimidating on stage, but were quite the charmers off stage.
After XXX made their exit, the lights dimmed for the fourth act, Hitchhiker, a producer, songwriter, recording artist, DJ and music video director! This guy is insanely busy, but that’s probably because he happens to work for SM Entertainment composing songs for some of your favorite SM artists, all while composing and releasing some solo songs of his own. Although his songs really have no real, intelligible words, it’s just a series of pitch-shifted mouth sounds and baby noises, over sternum-rattling bass. It was just right to get this crowd pumped again with more electro and techno beats. He slowly, and I mean slowly made his way to the center of the stage as he was in a huge, shiny, metallic, polygon-shaped suit. Everyone’s eyes did appear to widen when he began his act with bizarre videos, featuring a series of CGI humanoids dancing around various neon urban landscapes, in the back began to play. Nevertheless, the crowd didn’t sweat his appearance too much and danced along to the infectious, EDM sound.
After the 40 minute act was over, it was time to say goodbye to Hitchhiker and get ready for former I.O.I group member, Chung Ha, who graciously made her way onto the stage as the crowd went wild. Although she was born in Seoul, South Korea, the K-Pop star had also lived in Dallas, Texas which made this a very special moment for not only her, but her fans as well. She spoke to them saying that she was so happy to be back in Texas and happy she could speak English for the crowd. With a team of four female dancers by her side, she rocked the stage with some of her popular songs like, “Gotta Go” and “Roller Coaster” and even did a dance cover of Ariana Grande’s hit-single, “7 Rings” and everyone was losing it. She also took the time to explain she didn’t have much time to prepare and had to leave soon, but she made it her priority to let her fans know how thankful she was, for them to come out and support her. She gave such good fan service, she even said, “Yee-Haw” for one fan and “Happy Birthday” to another and took selfies with fans’ camera phones. The singer was definitely moved and pleased by the warm welcome home as the crowd was amazed by her aura on stage and her overall gratitude.
As Chung Ha waved her last goodbye to the crowd, the lights quickly dimmed and iKON’s music video, “Love Scenario” began to play on the big screen. Even though it was heavily dimmed in the venue, you could see an ocean of red lights emerge in the crowd and in the balconies. iKONICS expressed their enthusiasm and support with iKON’s light stick aka the KONBAT. It was also hilarious to see a handful of people with fro-like, yellow wigs on and getting hyped. It may have been confusing to some, but it was amusing for iKON themselves to notice, because it was similar wigs they used when participating in ISAC (Idol Star Athletics Championships), a South Korean television program which features mostly idols in which they compete in multi-sport events. Talk about dedication amongst the fans who of course, waited hours to see the seven-member boy group! iKONICS could also be heard singing the lyrics, “iKON is coming to town” from their single, “Anthem” and it was in that moment, that it was about to go down.
When the music video cut off, seven silhouettes could be seen appearing on stage and getting into position for the choreography to their single, “Killing Me”. They went on to perform more smash singles like, “Rhythm Ta”, “Love Scenario” and “Bling Bling”. They introduced themselves one by one and halfway through the show, main rapper, Bobby expressed his excitement and keenness by saying it took them awhile to get here to the states, but he and the group were thrilled and honored to have finally debuted in the U.S. and to see U.S. iKONICS for the first time. According to iKONICS via Twitter, iKON are known as “kings of fan service” and it didn’t take long to find out why. The members were taking as many phone’s as possible from fans and taking selfies, as well as videos for the fans to look back on. Members were also getting as close as they could for fans to record the keepsake moments. One member in particular, Donghyuk even ran off stage and high-fived every fan that was on the side of the stage. The show was coming to an end, but the boys couldn’t leave without an encore and came back to perform, “Bling Bling” again. iKON definitely left a mark and made a huge impact on their first performance ever, here in the U.S.
Overall, every act for this year’s 7th annual Korea Spotlight was truly and utterly impacting. With different genres exploding throughout the night and coming together for an entire, lengthy show. I can only imagine what’s in store for next year. Until next time.
Edited by: Allie Norado
Photos by: Rachel Bibb
Article by: Kristen Latrelle