The chill, early Spring afternoon saw well-organised lines of fans waiting outside New York City’s Town Hall, just off the Theatre District, for the New York stop of HyunA’s 2017 US Tour, ‘The Queen Is Back’. Considering some of the unfortunate situations that K-pop fans have had to endure while waiting in line for concerts, an absolute shout out to KpopMe who did a fantastic job of getting everyone inside with a minimal of fuss. While the show did start just a little late, the fans who’d already been let in were treated to cover dance contest winners Serendipity performing a great cover of HyunA’s Roll Deep. Another ten minutes or so to let the rest of the fans in, and the lights went down.
After the screaming came a nicely done VCR featuring great close ups of (and more screaming for) the queen herself. Then the backup dancers took the stage and each had a little solo feature, which (in my opinion) only would have been made better if they’d had a chance to give us their names. But their solos would have to be enough because just then the queen herself took the stage to do the real Roll Deep. HyunA’s fans knew all the words – giant red lightsticks provided at the merch table bobbed in time with the song and when she finished the theater shook with what can only be described as a metric ton of screaming.
The backup dancers left the stage to allow HyunA to say hello to the fans alone. “Hello everyone,” she said – and let me tell you, it was the cutest thing, “I’m HyunA!” She greeted fans first in English and then in Korean with the added, “It’s nice to meet you!” Then, back in English, she invited the host and her translator (who was excellent, by the way) onto the stage to help with the rest of the fan meeting.
“If I mess up tonight,” the MC said after saying what an honour it was to join HyunA up there, “you guys know why,” suggesting that being on stage with Hyuna is maybe a little nerve wracking. But only, it became pretty clear, because she’s both gorgeous and really charismatic – she is obviously also incredibly sweet and chill.
And if there is one thing you can take away from HyunA’s show besides the fantastic performances, it’s how much she really loves interacting with her fans. Throughout the show it became quite clear that while she might not speak it, she understands a quite a bit of English and she’ll speak it wherever she feels she can – mostly because she was so comfortable about responding to the fans’ shouted comments and questions. She didn’t seem to need the interpreter to help her decipher what they and the MC were saying, instead responding in Korean and sometimes English almost immediately after something was said.
For instance, as the MC and translator spoke briefly, a fan shouted their love for HyunA and “Welcome, saranghaeyo -” in reply to the fan. Then the translator took over, telling fans that HyunA went on to say that, “Today I think we have the biggest audience. Because the stage is very close I can see all your faces very clearly – I like that. I got nervous downstairs [before the show] but I’m thankful for the warm welcome.” She also explain that her outfit choices were because she was, “really loving the New York vibes,” and she wanted to dress to fit the city’s style. HyunA gave the crowd a little twirling fashion show along with an adorably cringe worthy pun: “I’m so hot!” Fanning her face, she asked, “Do I fit New York style?” – the dusky pink crop top, matching pants, and glittery rose gold heels earned a resounding YES! from the crowd. Her translator helped her explain, “Because when we get down to partying tonight I may not look as pretty,” (to which the crowd was basically like ‘whatever girl’), “I want to do some pictures now while I look good, and if you post the pcs on Instagram or Twitter I’ll look after the show.”
Thus began about five minutes of HyunA crossing the stage, pausing here and there to allow fans the chance to take pictures of her – she even bent down and did a little aegyo pose directly in front of a fan’s camera!
Then she spoke with fans for another few minutes about the tour’s concept and her hope that she would show her best performances. “You’re perfect!” came another cry from the crowd. After hiding behind her hand – I personally saw the blush from the balcony – she told her fans that she noticed their skill in following along with her songs already, and their support erased her worries.
Forget the balcony – people passing outside on the street could probably hear the collective, “Aaaaaaawwww!”
So what should she sing next? The crowd tossed out all kinds of suggestions and HyunA finally settled on ‘Ice Cream.’ Here is what I will say about the impressive choreography: HyunA must do A LOT of squats. On the heels of ‘Ice Cream’ came ‘French Kiss,’ including a little sing along at the chorus with the fans, which made HyunA beam happily. She even thanked the front row specifically because they’d been signing so well that she could hear them.
Next came a little Q & A titled “Hyuna’s everything,” which featured questions the fans had been given the chance to write on post-its before the show. The board was outside the theatre at one point; on it were questions like, “Which of your songs means the most to you?” “Do you go to the gym? What workouts do you do?” (squats, obviously), “Is there a rookie group you’re into right now?” and “What’s your favourite choreo?”
But the first question asked was, “If the New York Times were to write an article about you, what would you like them to write about?” Her fans, said HyunA, almost immediately. She’d want the Time to write about how amazing her New York fans are. “And since this is an article about the city [with the biggest audience] as NYC, I really hope that the NYT writes this article!”
Following cheers came the second question, “What did you wanna be when you were younger?” Someone in the audience answered first – “A queen!” – to which HyunA grinned and pointed out towards the voice saying in English, “I think you’re right!” Laughing along with the fans she added that she equated the idea of being a queen to her role now. “Though I didn’t think about meeting fans around the world, I think I wanted to be a singer.” It’s something she says allows her to share performances and time with people she cares about and who care about her.
Next question: “What do you wanna do when you’re in NY?”
Ever participatory, we had another audience response come first: “Slay!” But this goes without saying, HyunA does this while simply breathing. Or chuckling behind her hand, which she did before she offered her own answer. “Shopping, eating something really delicious, walk casually on the streets. But today was my most anticipated day and I’m happy because we’re spending that time together.”
See? Believe me, if you’d seen her face, you’d know these words were total sincerity. She’s absolutely about her fans.
Another question that garnered a cascade of shouted suggestions from the audience, “If you were to shoot a future MV in NY, where would it be?” English first – “Times Square!” The translator added the rest, “And it just came to my thought, if all of you came to my MV that would awesome. But I haven’t go that far out into NY, recommend me some places!”
More shouted suggestions, of which the loudest was by far Brooklyn – HyunA looked intrigued, so keep an eye out down there!
Next, “Is red your fave colour?”
“These days I like yellow as well,” HyunA admitted, “and purple and pink and red.” She took a rose from the basket, adding “I don’t dislike any colours, but I think red would be the most representative as HyunA.”
General agreement from the fans, and then the last question of the segment: “When are you coming back?”
“New album?” HyunA asked (which immediately lent the impression that there’s actually an album in the works). But, “New York!” shouted an audience member. “I dunnnoooooooo,” she whined in English, then let her translator help with the rest. “I can’t promise I’ll come back soon, since my new album comes out I’ll try to come back. I think I can maybe show you a different album when I finish the tour. I’ll prepare it well!”
It was time then for some more performances – HyunA once again asked the fans what they wanted to see which resulted in an entertaining exchange between a small, coordinated group of fans and the artist:
“‘Red!’” they shouted together. “Wait,” HyunA smiled.
“‘Change!’” was their next shouted request. “Wait,” she smiled again. Instead, she told us now through her translator, that she wanted to do some songs she hadn’t done very much on stage. Fans were treated to ‘A Talk’ with it’s slow, steamy vocals, and the inclusion of black feathered fans as a part of the sultry choreo. Then came the more dance and EDM inspired ‘U&ME’ from her most recent solo EP.
At this point HyunA had been on stage for nearly an hour, so it was about time for a little break. The audience was treated to a VCR compilation of HyunA’s history as an artist, from her early days with Wonder Girls all the way to her solo M/Vs, a “behind cut” with footage from fan meets and concerts, photo jacket shootings, and other events, and an “A’wesome HyunA” pictorial with her little signature wink at the end.
No K-pop event would be complete without an outfit change – HyunA now returned to the stage in a Thrasher sweatshirt, hot pants, and matching sneakers … all the better for expert twerking in ‘Lipstick.’ They really turned up the bass for the second part of the show, because it was almost loud enough to drown the audience out while the sang the chorus. It was not, however, enough to drown out the fans’ cheers when the song finished. But maybe because she’d had some trouble hearing them over the bass, HyunA decided to add a little audience sing along of the chorus again because they did so well during the actual song.
The MC and translator came back out for the next portion, a number picking game where HyunA pulled numbered lotto balls out of a box and the winner would get some signed merchandise. It was a little crazy because they seemed be looking for one person who had three numbers, but for the longest time they could only find people who had two numbers – in the end, HyunA just decided to allow the two people who’d gotten two of three to receive prizes at the end of the show. The crowd went suddenly bananas – one might have thought it was because she let two people win, but in fact it was because it was time for the audience participation game.
“Are you and HyunA alike” was the name, and people jumped straight out of their seats, waving red lightsticks in the air for a chance to be chosen to come up on the stage by the Queen herself. She picked three lucky folks, making sure to pick someone from the balcony as well, and hugged all three as they came onto the stage. Essentially, each fan had a turn where the MC asked either or type questions (hot dog or steak, for instance) and both the fan and HyunA would have to shout their preference at the count of three. If they had enough the same answers, the fan would win a prize. All through HyunA used a bit of English here and there, and while it was a near thing for the second contestant who needed all five questions instead of three and also maybe a few hints from HyunA, all of them were successful in winning!
For the record, HyunA prefers steak over hot dogs, basketball to baseball, the beach to mountains, bagels to muffins, texting to phone calls, painting to drawing, romance to thrillers, and sneakers to heels. And red to blue, but we knew that.
The winners each received a small picture that HyunA kissed before she awarded it to each fan. And she added even more fanservice by taking selcas with them on stage before a parting hug.
Then it was time for the game talked about for all of HyunA’s tour stops – unsurprising, because aside from the performances, this was one of the best parts of the night. Five volunteers, two of them from the balcony area, joined HyunA onstage for a dance off. It took a bit for the balcony fans to reach the stage, so in the interim HyunA took a red hat from a fan celebrating a birthday, whom she wished happy birthday in English, blew her an air kiss, and then took a few more selcas with fans already on the stage.
Once the two from above made it down, the dance off commenced with HyunA as the judge. New York’s contestants were SUPER HYPE and the entire thing was hilariously awesome. There was everything from snippets of moves from HyunA’s own choreo to aggressive twerking to working the floor. All five were really great, but two really stuck out – one young man and one young woman. HyunA decided to announce the winner through a back hug. Naturally she had to draw it out a little, pausing behind one of the young ladies then hopping over almost directly behind another one …. but finally she picked her winner. Let me tell you, it’s one of the first times I’ve ever seen twerking used in such a joyous celebration. The young man who won was so excited he only barely paused in his promised back hug before he was back on the floor to dance, and two of the other contestants joined him. More photos and a prize for the best dancer – no kidding, he literally could not stop dancing so they had him to an encore – and the five exited the stage while HyunA told us, “For the tour during the dance off, I think the contestants dance better than me, way better! I got a lot of energy from you, thank you!”
She took that energy into performances of the previously highly anticipated ‘Red’ and ‘Change,’ along with ‘Freaky.’ Then again the MC and translator returned.
“Around this time I dislike the most, I’m very sad.” she told us. The audience knew what she meant, and ‘noooooooooed’ the idea of the end of the show. Unfortunately, though, there was little choice. She took a moment to snap a commemorative picture with the audience behind her, and then the MC asked her about her future plans.
“For my North American tour, last will be LA, [and] after the LA show I’m going to prepare a new album so that I can come back as soon as possible, so I’ll make a promise tonight. I hope I can come back to New York with a new album, and everyone who’s here maybe you should come to the next show!”
Shouts of agreement and “I love you!” came from the crowd – so much so that HyunA added a little competition from the bottom of the theatre to the balcony to see who could shout the loudest, making Hyuna do a little heart spinning around in a super adorable way.
This is also not hyperbole – she’s really super adorable.
Finally it was time for her last performance and again she asked the crowd what they wanted to hear. Shouts of nearly EVERYTHING from the crowd, including songs she’d already performed, followed making HyunA throw up her hands with a laugh.
“Honestly, this one is from the new album!”
The crowd already knew what was coming, and joined in for pretty much the whole of ‘How’s This,’ which they obviously thought was great. Even as HyunA left the stage there were already chats for one more song and her name. Of course she obliged, coming back out wearing the tour’s official hoodie to perform the much beloved ‘Bubble Pop.’
Again, the real thing you can take from HyunA’s fan meeting, if you haven’t already, is that she honestly thinks a lot about her fans, and she clearly cares a lot of about them, too. That’s certainly true of many Korean artists, but maybe because HyunA is a solo artist so it’s just her up there to focus on, there’s an even more palpable care and connection she seems to have with the people who love her. Her performances are fantastic, and she’s obviously got skills in vocal, rap, and dance. Her charisma on stage is also no joke. But her love for her fans is what really shines through long after the bass has stopped shaking the floorboards.
Check out the rest of our photos here in our Photo Album!
Many many thanks to KpopMe, Hyuna, and Cube Entertainment for allowing us to check out HyunA’s extraordinary first New York fan meet, and to the Queen herself for putting on such a memorable show.
Stay tuned to Officially K-Music for more exclusive coverage from various events from around the world!
Photos by: Rachel Bibb
Article by: Kat Snapette
Edited by: Alona Sass