I know I'm a day behind, but I only finished working at 2am yesterday, and it's now nearing 3am, and I haven't started work yet, but I felt like I couldn't miss two days in a row, so here goes.
Sleep will be for tomorrow.
Yesterday, Sunday, I went to a hip hop concert with my roommate. The second time we met up, the first time we met to go out for a meal together, she mentioned this concert she wanted to go to because she is a fan of Zico, and when I found out who else was performing there, I was immediately hyped and we agreed to go together.
So yesterday we headed out after having a casual noodle lunch at home and took the subway to the other end of Seoul. The crowd was an interesting mixture of people. A lot of girls but also a lot of guys. Mostly young people, but some older and some very young (14 maybe?), and a surprising amount of foreigners (this means more than 10).
We had Standing tickets because my roommate is still a minor in Korea (for another few weeks) and the only Seating tickets were reserved for non minors because alcohol was allowed.
In South Korea age works a little differently, and everything is calculated from the year of birth, not the date, so at the strike of midnight when it goes from 2017 to 2018, my roommate will no longer be considered a minor and the same goes for all other teenagers born in 1999, no matter if they were born in January or December.
Concerts in South Korea are also a little different.
First one has to have a Korean registration number to purchase most tickets, which we didn't have, so my roommate's friend bought the tickets for us, but actually this proved an issue at the venue when we needed to get wristbands, because in order to get wristbands (which you need to get into the venue), you need to prove the identity of the person whose name is on the tickets. But we were white foreigners, and it was too complicated to explain and there was queue behind us, and we immediately said that the tickets were a birthday present (which they were), and we were given wristbands. Purely by luck.
After getting wristbands we had to line up in order of entrance. There were different sections and entrances. We were entrance D, numbers 261 and 262, which means we had to line up where it said Entrance D, numbers 200-300. The idea is that people in the row check the tickets of those in front of them and behind them and then get into the right purchased order but some people don't follow this and we were (again) lucky to get ahead by a lot of numbers because others had made mistakes and no one was willing to fix it.
We waited in the freezing icy cold for over an hour, waiting to be let inside. Even with my thick jacket I was cold because I was just wearing a T-shirt inside since I knew it would be crazy hot inside during the concert.
We had a moment of terrible realisation as we stood outside in the cold: we had turned the heating off in our room. So we sent a desperate message to a friend asking for help, and she kindly went and turned our heating on for us.
Finally, with frozen toes and nose tips, we entered the hall and there were a lot of people. The hall was small but still there were a few thousand people.
It was a long concert too. We had 4 hours of standing and yelling and jumping ahead of us.
A total of twelve rappers were going to perform, six of whom were in a crew and performing together, and each of them performed about six songs.
The concert started out soft with rapper Noel. He was good, but he was definitely not as popular as others, and it showed on the audience reaction.
As he performed our toes were still frozen and the audience was not yet that hyped, as everyone knew exactly how long there was left before the big acts. We cheered as best as we could, but two people alone can't hype an entire audience.
After Noel, rapper Young B came on, and he performed well, just like Noel. He is very young, and famous having been on a TV audition style program called "High school rapper" and he had also been on another rap orientated audition program called "Show Me the Money". He is still new in the rap scene though and people were here to see very specific people.
In my case, I was there mainly to see the third performer, an up and coming rapper called Changmo who came out of nowhere at the beginning of this year and has been going strong all year.
I arrived at the concert with near to no expectations. I sort of expected Change to be disappointing because I like his songs a lot, and I expected to walk out of there just being satisfied to have heard him perform but not blown away. Especially after Noel and Young B's performances that was how I expected to feel, but I could have gone in with the highest possible expectations and Changmo would have delivered. He was just that good.
He walked in hyped from the first second on stage, and his commentary between songs was both funny sweet and touching. His first comment was: "So hyped... I'm so hyped!" and he truly was. He then proceeded to point out that his father was in the audience today, and he did this several times. He performed songs I hadn't expected him to perform and all four of my favorites from him, even one where he only has one verse (Wine), and that I never expected to see performed live.
He had energy and the audience responded so well to him. They were getting as hyped as Changmo himself and feeding off of his energy. They were bopping along with hands in the air.
Before his final and most famous song, Change paused for a moment and mentioned that a year ago when he was making that song, his biggest wish that seemed completely impossible to reach was to hold 100 concerts in a lifetime. 'This is my 113th concert this year,' he remarked. 'I never thought a day like that would come. My dad is in the audience'.
After Changmo's Maestro, his performance was difficult to follow up on, but the order was well arranged because next on the list was the crew VMC. Their youngest member, Bigone, arrived and performed a song on his own and then he called one of the older members, and efter each song they called up another member (Odee, Wutan, Deepflow, and Donmills), until finally they called up the last member: Nucksal.
This was when the concert went from being a concert to being a visit to the zoo.
In an instant everyone had their phones out and up. Before the beginning of the concert we had been instructed to keep our phones low if we wanted to take photos or videos so as not to disturb people standing behind, but now all bets were off. People were standing on their toes with phones above their heads trying to get a glimpse of the famous rapper Nucksal.
I had to stand on my toes and jump to try to see him during the entire first song, and still I only saw glimpses. He was laughing by the end and made a joke about the many cameras and then people seemed to calm down. They had seen him now. They all had their photo to prove it. Time to enjoy his actual rapping.
The VMC hyped the crowd up again. At this time we had been enjoying the concert for perhaps two hours.
The next person slowed things down. It was R&B artist Zion.T whose songs are not the usual hyped hip hop songs you typically experience and these sort of events but are laid back and easy listening.
It was like walking into a whole new setting. Zion.T too knew that he was apart from the others and that most people were there for the last two performers, so he joked a lot during his commentary, and even changed some lyrics in the songs for comedic relief, which was a lot of fun. He also performed a song from his latest album that he usually never gets to perform but is a personal favourite (나쁜 놈들). His voice was good and he performed well but it's difficult to get hyped for R&B. It's music that one enjoys the sound of more than it's music that one jumps around screaming along to.
There were two performers left. This was who people had come to see.
Dok2 is probably THE most famous rapper in South Korea at the moment, and has been for a few years. He is the founder of Ilionaire records and hugely famous for it. He has a lot of famous songs, and everyone who is into Korean hip hop knows and loves those songs.
A lot of the guys in our section had clearly been waiting for this one moment of seeing Dok2 live. The audience was hyped, jumping, and doing every single thing Dok2 wanted. All Dok2 had to do was to glance in their direction.
Every single rapper that night wanted the audience to do two things: 1. "Put your hands in the air" and 2. "Scream!"
While the second request is pretty easy to grant, Korean audience can be picky about when to show their support so it's a bold request unless the rapper is famous enough to pull it off. The first request though is difficult for other reasons. This is because if everyone raises their hands, no one behind can see, so it's a curtesy to the other people, and breaking the code of curtesy is serious business.
While the rappers all wished for people to lift their hands, they knew that they had to get the audience more hyped to have even a slight chance to succeed at this, and there is one thing that rapper can do that will have the audience go crazy and be hyped in an instant: throwing water! There was a lot of water throwing going on for the people at the very front.
But while everyone tried to get people to lift their hands constantly, few succeeded. Dok2 however. He barely even had to try. He glanced around at the crowd and they all lifted their hands with the famous Ilionaire sign (thumb, index and middle fingers raised), and you could almost hear everyone's inner thoughts: notice me Dok2, I know the Ilionaire sign!
Every time Dok2 said something the audience delivered. All he had to do was to approach a certain part of the stage to have all of the people in that section raise their Ilionaire signs, and he performed well.
Finally there was only one performer left.
My roommate is a big Zico fan, and at this point in the concert, over three hours in, I had gotten myself a good spot from which I could see everything. My roommate could see a lot, but maybe not everything, so right before Zico cam on as the last performer, I switched places with her so she could enjoy it fully.
The crowd was still hyped from Dok2 when Zico arrived, and they wer just as hyped for him. He sang some of his best and most famous songs and, very unusually decided to cover a song that he had produced but not rapped on. He usually never does cover songs, but it was good and the audience were singing aloud very loudly.
It was all over too soon, but Zico left after his encore stage, and immediately I turned around to my roommate, and my first words were: 'Run for the subway now!'
She looked at me very confused: 'Why?'
'Do you see all the people in here? How many of them do you think are going to the subway?' I replied and then we rushed through the crowd and ran as fast as we dared despite the ice.
We were among the first dozen down in the subway and we made it home on the first train. Always lucky.