Saturday, May 23, 2009

Epik High "Map the Soul" New York show

Pandora and I.


Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'll proceed to rehash the night that I saw Epik High LIVE in NYC. For those of you who don't know, Epik High is a well-known hip-hop group from Korea. They're known for their thoughtful, poetic lyrics. After releasing their new book-album, Map the Soul (which, FYI, can only be found on their website, they embarked on their first-ever U.S. tour, bringing along their good friends Kero One, Far East Movement and MYK, a new artist on their independent label.

I first got into Epik High after my friend Julia showed me the music video for "One" two months ago, featuring the skinny chick from "My Name is Kim Samsoon." I was impressed with the group's audacity in tackling mental illness and depression, taboo issues in Korea. The group, which consists of rappers Tablo and Jin Mithra, and DJ Tukutz, raps in both Korean and English. At the show, Tablo mentioned that they will be expanding collaborations on their next album, bringing a more diverse offering to their ever-growing following of multicultural listeners. The new album is due to be released sometime between August and October 2009.

Peep the English-version of the title track, "Map the Soul," featuring Tablo, MYK and Kero One.

Converse everywhere!

Waiting to get in.

Rachel, Dave and I got to Irving Plaza just before 5:30pm, an hour and a half before the show was set to start. However, when we peeped the line of Asians wrapped around the building two times, we knew we were in for a long wait. A much shorter V.I.P. line got fans access to the balcony. Die-hard fans from New York, New Jersey and all surrounding areas arrived three or four hours in advance just to stake out a spot on the sidewalk. That's true dedication, folks (or lunacy, depending on how you see it).


Rachel was getting tired of were the rest of us. After the two-hour mark, I seriously considered sucking up my pride and doing the Asian squat. But my black work pants would not accommodate this action (yes, I hot-footed it to the city right after work just to be here). I also hadn't anticipated it to be a sticky, humid, HOT 87 degrees. If I had, I would've bagged a change of clothes.

The Fillmore at Irving Plaza.

7:30 p.m.: After what seemed an eternity, we inched closer to the entrance and dashed inside, only to be crushed against a swarm of living, breathing (sweating...) bodies. We fought for a space to stand and a passable view of the stage, but settled for the former. Rushing thoughts of Vans Warped tour came to mind, but at least it didn't smell. And no one tried to crowd surf.

Bayhead Kero One opened up the night with eight or nine solid songs off his new album, "Early Believers." He worked the crowd with his groove-a-delic funk-soul vibe, urging us to move to his bossanova and samba-infused beats. Hits included "Welcome to the Bay," "In All the Wrong Places" and my personal favorite, "When the Sunshine Comes." A rasta-haired guy strummed the acoustic guitar in the background while female vocalist Delores chimed in on choruses, punctuating Kero One's smooth storytelling-rapping prowess.

So far so good. And sweaty. Like, hella hecka sweaty. I've never been so soaked in my own perspiration in my entire life, and folks - I've been to Hong Kong in the summer. I've been to Central Park Summerstage. This was by far the hottest room ever.

Enter Far East Movement. Clad in their intergalactic space costumes, the Far Easty boys told us they had arrived from the future and that where they were, in the year 3008, music had :gasp: died. Their mission? To bring music back. But to do that, they needed an energy refuel. Who could help them? (Wait for it...) US!!

Then FM proceeded to Boomshake the room with a remix of "Girls on the Dancefloor," "Fetish" and a bunch of other party-friendly songs. I still prefer their first two albums, but I guess they've chosen to go in a different musical direction.

Korea's No. 1 Beatboxer, Beatbox DG, went crazy on the mic. MYK spit some sick flows and played tunes on his guitar. He used to be in the American indie rock band Weekend Sesh, which explains his guitar love. He's definitely someone I'll be watching.

At long last, when Epik High burst onto the stage, the whole room suddenly thundered with hoots and squeals of approval.
I could go more in depth about their performance, but I'd be writing a book. All I have to say is, despite the 2+ hour wait, the lack of air and close contact with way too many people, it was SO worth my 40 bucks. They played both new and old hits and gave us their heart and soul with every song, even returning after the curtain to play three more after the crowd's insistent "Encore, Encore, Encore." The audience sang along and Tablo turned the mic toward us to join in. Just give 'em a listen!

No pics of the musicians. Sadly, I was too far away to get a decent shot, and with all the strobe lights and glow sticks swirling around the room, my pics would've turned out too blurry anyway. However, here's Tablo commenting on how heated it was in the room:

NOTE: This entry has little (or nothing) to do with food...except perhaps for the fact that all I had eaten that day was oatmeal and a breakfast sandwich. Suffice to say, by the time 11:30 p.m. rolled around and the show was over, we were FAMISHED.


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