Asian Music Festival: AOMG US Concert Tour 2014 will be kicking off on November 14th in Los Angeles before moving on to New York on the 15th, and finishing up in Washington D.C. on the 20th. The LA show will be held at the Belasco Theater, the same venue that hosted the LA leg of the inaugural AMF tour, Asian Music Festival: Korean Hip Hop Series Vol 1 back in May.
One of my friends is a huge Verbal Jint fan, so when we found out he was coming to town with the AMF tour, we immediately got general admission tickets for the May 25th event. Here’s a brief recap of our k-hip hop concert experience at the Belasco.
At peak, the line into the Belasco may have run as long as two blocks. Slated to begin at 7 PM, the first opening act, DANakaDAN, took the stage just before 8pm.
Inside, the venue was surprisingly and pleasantly intimate. The 1920s theatrical stage-turned-concert and event-venue retained its original architectural charms, but sported a very modern stage with display screens, and lighting equipment. The floor of the house had a modest depth, and though we stood at the very back of the GA section on the floor, we still had a great view of the stage.
The crowd was a fairly even mix of men and women in their 20s and 30s, with mostly Asian/Asian Americans and a smattering of Caucasian and Latino kids.
The opening acts did a perfect job getting the audience warmed up. Up and coming rapper DANakaDAN (Dan Matthews) pumped the crowd with his energy and passionate flow, and IAMMEDIC delivered softer electro dance music that kept the crowd grooving.
Beenzino was the first of the headlining Korean artists to take the stage. When he swagged out to greet the audience, a spontaneous tidal wave of women hurled themselves screaming against stage, taking the rest of the crowd with them. Whooping, hollering, and more than one “BEENZINO YOU’RE SO SEXY” filled the floor. “Isshoman” delivered a casual, but solid set and he played generously with the audience. He was clearly a crowd favorite.
Bumkey impressed with his smooth vocal prowess. But special-guest (and fellow TROY member) Kanto had an even more impressive stage presence with his bolder and more extroverted charisma. And though Kanto’s contribution was very brief, he completely engaged and amped up the crowd.
Verbal Jint, a grandmaster of contemporary Korean rap, brought his characteristic mellowness to mic – though my friend commented that he looked rather perky and really excited to be on stage — but he was so cool on stage, perhaps only hardcore fans could recognize this. The pace and mood shifted a bit when he brought out guest singer/rapper Hwayoung.
Hwayoung sang Sanchez’s part on VJ’s lovley “Good Morning” and then stuck around for another song or two. He brought a vibrant personality and stage persona that quickly won-over the crowd, though everyone around us seemed to be scratching their heads as to who he was. Looking Hwayoung up, after the concert, revealed he is popularly known for working with rap duo Untouchable on their 2008 album.
After VJ’s set, came curtain calls and selfies. Then Bumkey and Verbal Jint gave a joint encore. While their voices were completely on-point, they are both such mellow dudes that their performance lacked the over-the-top climax that signals the end of the show. Instead, they were simply done singing – then they wished the audience well and headed off stage to engage in VIP activities. This left the audience a little confused and pondering the odd open-endedness of the finale.
Regardless, people spilled out of the Belasco and onto the street with huge smiles on their faces and basking in the glow of a fun time had by all.
From start to finish (once the event got rolling), the AMF concert was smooth sailing. The audio system rocked and the venue was the perfect size for a this type of concert. Anyone heading to the Belasco for the AOMG show should be very excited — it’s a great space for an intimate club-like concert experience and should be a super fun way to see Jay Park and his AOMG crew.
Photo Credits: concert coverage pics from Kpop Savant Flickr