K-pop isn’t all massive companies and concepts. There’s a side of K-pop that is uniquely endearing and strong. A side that shows the power of independence runs deeper than that sugar coated top layer of the cake. James Lee, Kevin Woo and a slew of other artists represent the strength that is the solo indie K-pop scene that is throwing wrenches in the charts and shaking up the industry. Soloists who decided to sacrifice on a level that many can’t even dream about in order to express their art on their own terms.
That’s why when I heard that Kevin Woo would be celebrating his independence with his very first US Solo concert in LA and that he would be doing it with one of his closest friends, James Lee, I jumped for joy! I expected fun performances and sweet poppy moments. What I got was emotions and love. A deep love for the fans and the music.
Saturday Night fans piled into the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles, excited to see FYKE, who’s garnered a substantial following as they speak candidly about mental health and offer support to their fans through their music and their social media presence. I’ve seen FYKE before, as they opened James Lee’s first LA show with such force and fire, I became a fan. This night was different. This night was a calculating therapeutic journey through their music, one I did not expect to hit me as hard as it did. The band, consisting of Enik Lin, Steven Delman, Mikee Fabella, Justin Wright, and Gerard Christian, started strong by bringing out the big guns!
Amber Liu, the llama herself stepped out on stage and the crowd screamed with excitement! They performed “Get Myself,” hopping around the stage, running from one end to the other, dancing until they were huffing and puffing. Amber stepped off stage and they continued with “Nightmares,” “Insecure,” “Favorite Mistake” (my favorite), and “Till The End.” At one point, Enik made a dedication for anyone who felt depressed, alone, and lost, telling their fans and anyone listening that they are loved and it’s okay. You can imagine just how big the feels wave was as they rolled into their next song.
James Lee silently walked on stage, quiet confidence emanating from him as everyone screamed. Together, FYKE and James performed “The Edge” as fans sang along to the feels inducing track. FYKE finished their set with “Antisocial” and the curtain fell.
When the curtain rose again, James Lee stepped out on stage to the cheers of adoring fans. He thanked everyone for being there and began with “Mad.” This wasn’t the same James we saw last year, timid, shy and nervous. This James was still beautifully humble but commanding and strong. He stood on stage and allowed the love from the audience to wash over him, his smile lighting up the entire venue.
He performed “Automatic” before performing “Let’s Get Away” from the ‘Light’ EP. He then stopped and asked for the elusive Llama to step out. She joined him on stage and they performed their famed duet “Perfect” which was absolutely beautiful live!
He followed it up with “Alright” and “Anxiety”. At one point, James spoke about the dark place he’d reached before releasing ‘The Light’ EP. That he’d written this song that was akin to a suicide note and when he shared it with his closest friends, they realized how deep he’d fallen down the well. Enik had been one of those who pulled him up and out of that dark place. With the success of ‘The Light’ EP, James had realized he wasn’t done and there was plenty more for him to strive for. Enik entered the stage and James closed out with the duet of “The Light” together. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Finally, Kevin took the stage. The former U-Kiss member stood in a pastel pink oversized button down dress shirt, open half way down and only tucked in on one side. His white jeans were artfully frayed at the knee and he exuded a mixture of prep and urban casual as he hit the stage. In an absolutely fitting moment, Kevin opened his set with “FREEDOM”. He had two dancers with him and all three, in sync, absolutely powered through the song. He followed it up with “Over You.”
James returned to the stage and joined Kevin where they briefly thanked fans, talked about their friendship and James made Kevin blush with his gratitude for the support he’d received. They then performed his and Kevin’s fantastic new duet “Falling” as fans sang along.
Kevin talked about how excited he was to be there with his fans after over a decade in K-pop and to still see people supporting him, including the fan with his signature tattooed on her forearm.
He performed “Beautiful Day” and then showed the fans some classic fantastic fanservice by pulling up a random fan to the stage and serenading her with an seriously hot version of Bazzi’s “Mine.” He sang to her as she spent the whole song shook on stage, at one point almost bolting off stage from his closeness as he reached and gently and flirtatiously pulled her back to the center of the stage, all the while she laughed at his flirty sweetness. They embraced at the end of the song and she was ushered off stage.
He also brought JRE onstage for a moment of shy comedy as Kevin promoted his own YouTube channel while talking about JRE’s support and channel. They did a little dance together before he exited and Kevin continued with his show. He performed “Camouflage” and finally his newest solo track, “Ride Along.”
The night included an amazing show but also led to an amazing interview! Make sure you check that out here!
Thank you Kevin Woo, James Lee, FYKE and SubKulture Entertainment for allowing AJ to be a part of this fantastic event!