Ask almost anyone who showed up for SXSW 2017‘s now famous ‘K-Pop Night Out‘ who they were in line to see this year, and their reply would be Red Velvet. The title ‘K-Pop Night Out’ itself is a bit misleading this year, as with Hyolyn not even really doing her K-pop thing, one could argue that Red Velvet was the only K-pop act in the lineup. Of course, instead of feeling conned in any way by the lack of other commercially mainstream K-pop groups, the event was a pleasant mix of almost every genre of music you could imagine and turned out to be a rousing success.
As the last act and headliner of the event, the entire crowd at the Belmont in Austin, Texas was pretty much dead on their feet at that time. Well, at least until the girls stepped on stage. As Joy, Seulgi, Yeri, Irene, and Wendy stood under the lights, the crowd went from dead to resurrected with a jolt of lightning energy that shot through the entire venue. Everyone collectively went bananas screaming their heads off as the girls smiled and waved to fans. They greeted the crowd, each doing their introduction, all in English to a packed house. They thanked KPNO for allowing them to participate in the show and thanked fans for waiting to see them.
There’s something to say for five absolutely beautiful, bubbly young women dancing and singing for an audience of screaming fans. It’s a powerful level of control these girls had on the audience. With a simple “Hello!” from each member, people lost their minds, jumping up and down, hands and glow sticks high into the air. The girls fired energy into the crowd with “Russian Roulette,” powering through their choreography while the audience bobbed and swayed, cheering throughout the song.
They brought the sass with “Dumb Dumb,” which was provided the moment of, “Oh damn these aren’t little girls, these are women with talent!”
This wasn’t your typical matchy matchy themed performance. Red Velvet dressed, each with their own style, in different skirts and tops, each bringing flare in their own way. I can honestly say I was impressed with their entire stage as they looked like college students out to enjoy the festival, except they weren’t. They were pros on stage flexin’ on naysayers with sharp moves and clear vocals.
But of course, they knew exactly what K-pop is famous for and brought the cute to a whole new level with “Rookie“!
They powered through their set of tracks bringing the crowd to a near frenzy as the beat popped and energized the crowd.
It was nearly 2 AM as the girls thanked the crowd and stepped off stage and the venue emptied within minutes. Red Velvet were like an energy drink to a fading crowd, and as soon as they were over, so was basically everybody else.
I, for one, love that ‘K-Pop Night Out’ was such an eclectic mix of music, with genres ranging from shoegaze to punk to hip-hop to K-pop. It was a nice mix of what South Korea has to offer in damned good music. The takeaway from the SXSW showcase was to take some time and step away from the genres you’re used to and try out new sounds.