On Saturday, February 22nd, I had the pleasure of attending the Philadelphia show of Eric Nam’s “Before We Begin” Tour at Union Transfer. For those of you who don’t know, Eric Nam is a multitalented, dashingly handsome Korean-American singer. (To learn more about Eric, check out my last article insert link).
The format of the show was general admission, meaning that it was all standing room as well as first come, first served. To snag a good spot, my friends and I arrived about three hours before the show and waited in line. It was bitterly cold, but one hundred percent worth it as our view of the stage was phenomenal.
Union Transfer itself is a small venue. Therefore, the feel of the concert was more intimate compared to some of the larger concert venues I had been to before.
The opening act was a duo called Frenship. I hadn’t heard their music before the show, but I was pleasantly surprised by their set. The duo exhibited not only fantastic vocal ability and range, but also great mastery over the guitar and bass. Their music simultaneously displayed a heartfelt vibe, but also great power and energy. The humility and self-deprecating humor of the duo also added to the quality of their performance. Throughout their set, the duo made sure to thank Eric and his fans for having them and often cracked jokes such as “Wow, we really messed up our own song”. Throwing guitar picks for the audience to catch was also a fun bonus. At the end of their set, they mentioned that they have a song coming out with Eric very soon. I can’t wait to give it a listen!
After Frenship left, the audience waited with bated breath for Eric Nam to begin his set. Finally, about twenty minutes later, the instrumental backing began to play the first song, Come Through. The crowd (including myself) went wild when Eric appeared just on cue to sing the first verse of the song. While I was very familiar with Eric’s music, I had absolutely no idea what kind of live performer Eric would be.
During his podcasts, Eric would often play down his ability with his dancing ability. However, each and every act Eric exuded confidence in both his dancing ability as well as his vocal ability. He rarely relied on pre-recorded vocals and improvised with great precision and beauty.
Eric’s set consisted mainly of songs from his latest all-English Album, Before We Begin, but also included past Korean and English hits. The songs ranged from energetic, electronic heavy songs such as Runaway, to the dance focused You’re Sexy, I’m Sexy, to emotional ballads like Love Die Young.
Eric also performed some pieces such as Potion and Cave Me In, which originally featured other artists. Typically, when artists perform these songs, it tends to be a bit forced and awkward since the part of the featuring artist is pre-recorded. However, Eric seamlessly incorporated these segments into his performance.
Throughout the show, Eric would make an effort to speak to the audience in-between songs, comparing it to “TedxTalks”. In these TedXTalk moments, Eric told stories about his mother that had every Asian American in the crowd nodding in agreement. He also took a moment to comment on how amazing it was that “an Asian face was able to sell out Union Transfer.” Eric also made sure to make eye contact with as many people as possible during the show (My personal favorite memory of the concert was when Eric smiled and waved at my friends and I).
Overall, Eric’s performance exceeded my expectations. Eric Nam is an exceptionally talented, charismatic artist who is paving the way for Asian-Americans in music. Make sure to listen to Eric’s latest album Before we Begin.