Live for the first time here in the USA, Chinese producer and singer-songwriter Lay Zhang performed a sold out fan event in Times Square. With over 832,958 digital album sales and ranking 1st on the Billboard World Album Chart as well as 21st on the Billboard 200 Chart, it is to no surprise the amount of fans this young man has is staggering, but only 2,000 lucky fans were able to grab tickets before it sold out within minutes.
The night was historic with fans chanting his name and waving their light sticks as Lay performed 5 of his hit songs from his latest album “Namanana”, songs from his other albums, reading fan questions, and giving a number of wonderful gifts to those inside the Playstation Theater to witness the moment. The magical night started out with the newly released US debut “Namanana” English version before going on to introduce himself and answering questions. Lay constantly made eye contact with fans from the stage and made sure to let his XBACK’s know “you guys are my all”. Despite being nervous and tired from all the schedules, Lay goes on to say he wants to perform a lot for everyone and is so happy to be with his fans in NYC. His hopes for performing at Lollapalooza and at Coachella gave fans so much to look forward to now that he has officially debuted in the USA.
The fans learned tonight that a Lion King song was inspiration for writing Lay’s title track and a quick rendition of “Hakuna Matata” with the audience made everyone giggle. Suddenly fans were alerted of a special treat during the next performance and they were not disappointed. While singing his next song “What U Need?” from his first album “Lose Control”, fans lost control as Lay came down off the stage to greet everyone all around the room. No one was expecting this type of gift.
Lay took a quick moment off stage before coming back to answer fan questions. A box emerged from behind the curtain and handed to Lay to begin picking questions. However, before starting, our hero for the night wanted to make sure fans were safe and not hurt since fans got a little bit too excited the last song. First question was regarding if the dancing in the Australian lake for the “Namanana” music video was difficult. Although it took 6 days, they traveled in deserts, and it was expensive, Lay was very happy to fly all the way to beautiful Australia to film. Continuing on, at the request of his next picked question, Lay chose the one and only word “Namanana”, that he earlier mentioned as being a self made word representing the essence of “Hakuna Matata”, to describe his new album. With a keyboard placed on stage, he performed a quick tune to show his feelings for the night. He’s feelings being full of love for his fans was happy to answer the next question about coming back to New York. Given the opportunity, he stated he would of course love to come back.
As the drawing of questions out of the box nears to an end, Lay is asked about his favourite animal. Everyone in the venue screamed what they thought to be the answer. Everyone screaming the same exact animal, sheep. He has both an album and a song titled with the animals name, has been seen in the past wearing sheep outfits, and is the self-proclaimed “lead sheep of China”. But somehow sheep was not the answer. Instead the T-Rex overruled the docile creature, and Lay had the toy he named Li Li brought to him on stage to prove it. A fan close to the stage also gave him another toy T-rex which he happily named Zi Zi.
Another gift was announced to the audience and everyone looked at each other with wide-open eyes and jaws dropped. Lay wanted to host a one-of-a-kind event and decided to show the world premiere of the “Peach” music video here with his fans. Everyone was beside themselves watching the exclusive world premiere and couldn’t contain their excitement.
As if the dance moves in the “Peach” music video were’t enough, the next song stepped the game up by a few notches. “Lay U Down”, a very mature and sensual song on it’s own, started with innocent choreography until he slowly started unbuttoning his shirt. The fans going wild now seeing nothing but bare chest and torso under his button up. The rest of the performance was just as heated. Even after the song was over, the screaming and chanting for more was immaculate. As the night was coming to a close, “Give Me A Chance” followed before Lay had his last few words to all of the XBACK and EXO-L in the audience. He took a moment to express his love for the other EXO members, thanked everyone able to attend this amazing night, and told his fans “you are…snack”.
Despite it being November, Lay had a nice last minute trick and treat for fans. Some fans began to walk out of the venue thinking the show was over, but the music for “Sheep” started playing and everyone ran back to their spots. Soon, Lay came back on stage to perform the song himself. The crowd was jumping and singing along despite the song being performed in Lay’s native language of Mandarin Chinese. To the dismay of everyone, the show was over and only the group photo was left. Lay took his time in saying his last goodbyes and waved to everyone before leaving the stage one last time for the night. It was for sure an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience for those in attendance.
Special thanks goes to Tencent Music Entertainment Group, SubKulture Entertainment, and SM Entertainment for allowing Officially Kmusic access to cover such a wonderful event.