After our conversation at KCON, there was no way in hell I was going to miss James Lee‘s ‘The Light EP Release Party‘ at the Belasco Theater. True to his word, the entrance was speakeasy style through the back alley behind the building. We made our way through the a dim hall, through a door, and suddenly we were in the famed Belasco green room. The historic green room was surprisingly green, and all I could think was that if these walls could talk the stories it could tell would be amazing. The venue was also packed with an interesting and rare mix of fans, family, friends, and industry insiders surrounded by warm, muted colors and plush leather seating. Through drawn-back, rich, red velvet curtains, stalls were set up with merch for not only James and his magical dog Jerry, but for FYKE as well, who was also performing that night.
It felt less like a concert and more like an industry party.
After heading down another dark hall, suddenly we were in the basement, which was a fully functioning venue. Gold mylar balloons spelled out “THE LIGHT EP” against the far wall above the VIP booths that were full of people sitting, drinking, and attempting to chat over the DJ who spun a mixture of lo-fi hip-hop and typical party pop music.
Fans had traveled from around the world, some from Korea, some from Japan, some from Europe, not to mention from every state you could imagine in the US. It was the United Nations of fans, with everyone mingling and anticipating the event.
Enik Lin stepped out and suddenly the dance floor was full as everyone clamored to the stage. FYKE took to the stage and blasted out an interesting mix of industrial EDM rock, all of which had deep lyrics and emotional sounds. Enik’s sharp, angular features in the stage light made him look ethereal and almost magical. The band played hard and fast with the crowd responding in cheers, and I realized then that I really liked FYKE. They fed that emo part of me that had been starving for way too long. They finished their set and the DJ took over as we waited, impatiently for James to take the stage.
Finally, James stood stepped into the light, his cool aloofness melting away as he took the mic in his hands and thanked everyone for coming to celebrate with him. He started by performing “The Light“, and everyone lost their minds. His gentle voice grew with strength as the audience reached for him, hungry to show him love.
James then performed “Perfect“, which is his collaboration with Amber, a beautiful song about love and acceptance. Next was “UP“, a song about the loss of a loved one and the collective tears fell. James tackled “Let’s Get Away” next, his breakout hit featuring Sooyoung of SNSD, his voice embedding the emotions into everyone in the room. I can’t even express how amazing it felt to see him on stage, in the spotlight performing his music, gifting everyone there with his unique sound.
And with that, it was over. He thanked everyone for coming, explaining how important and amazing it was to see everyone there. People cheered for an encore, but he’d given everything he had and there was no more. He stepped off stage and into the arms of his family, surrounded by his support team and fans, in plain sight of the entire venue.
The DJ took to the turntables and spun upbeat pop for everyone to dance to as James made his way through the crowd, down the hall, and back into the green room where he greeted everyone before turning down another mysterious hallway and out of the crowd. People stayed, continuing to mingle and network as music blasted and lines to the merch tables snaked throughout the room.
I don’t know what James plans to do now, but I know that a fire’s been lit within him and it’s burning brightly, fueling his strength and ambition. Even as I type this, he’s released another teaser for a new song, set to be released this week.
UP MV TEASER 1 Thank you to everybody who made #thelightep such a success. I want you guys to know I gave 200% for this. I started this kickstarter with the hope of doing one music video and we shot THREE. Not sure of what’s to come, all I know is I have so much music to share. Thank you for joining me on this ride. I hope we can do another one someday. Until then. I love you guys! #thelight #up #letsgetaway #perfect #musicvideo #teaser #kpop #korean #english #poprock #softrock #indierock #singersongwriter #newmusic #godbless
So make sure you keep watching because James isn’t anywhere near done!