How did I spend my Friday night before midterms week? I went to an Epik High concert at The Wiltern in Los Angeles. I didn’t really listen to them before the concert, so I wasn’t a huge fan. But am I a fan now? Yes.
Epik High is a South Korean Hip-Hop group, known for their eclectic mixture of genres and complex, raw lyrics. The group has been around since 2003 and consists of three members: Tablo, Mithra and DJ Tukutz. They are respected for their fearless approach to song production and writing. Hip-hop was not an explored or very relevant genre at the time of their debut, as it was considered an “underground” music genre. But due to their talent and bold decisions to use their music to explore the untouched dark and taboo topics at the time, Epik High has managed to hit home to people’s personal experiences and dilemmas, while educating them about the realities of the world around them.
Needless to say, 16 years later, Epik High continues to touch the hearts of millions, not only in Korea but also internationally. They have become so popular that they even performed at Coachella in 2016. Epik High is currently on their third North American Tour, and their concert in Los Angeles this past weekend was the first time in four years that the band played a show in Los Angeles. The night was filled with palpable energy, feel-good music and overwhelming amounts of screaming bouncing from wall-to-wall.
As soon as I stepped into the venue, I was in awe. The Wiltern is a beautiful, art-deco style theatre built in the 1930s. It was grand and perfect for the large, energetic crowd. As I was taking in the venue, the lights started to dim, and music started to play. Cue the screams. Cue the red lights. Epik High was here. Their opening number was a mash-up starting with “In Seoul” and “No Thanxxx,” mainly focusing on their true hip-hop roots, with steady rap verses that flowed rhythmically to the beat. It was the perfect way to get the crowd pumped and ready for the exciting night.
After the first song played, all the members introduced themselves. Tablo, the leader, is actually from America (fun fact: he went to Stanford University and majored in Literature and received a Masters degree in Creative Writing! No wonder his lyrics are deemed “magical.”), so there was no language barrier. He was actually quite funny too, cracking jokes throughout the introductions and warming everyone up. One thing I appreciated was how, despite the large and potentially cold venue, Tablo and the other members made successful efforts to make the concert more intimate. They would go into the audience and talk to individual people, incorporating everyone into the whole production. They even took a selfie with all their fans in the middle of the concert.
My favorite part was when the singers opened their number for “Home is Far Away.” They ask everyone to turn the flash on their phones and wave it in air. It created a beautiful illusion of a twinkling, starry night, perfectly matching the atmosphere to the vibe of the song.
My favorite songs of the night were “Born Hater” and their ending song, “Hate Me.” I was especially intrigued by “Hate Me,” because it strayed away from their typical hardcore, rap songs and showed that they are a group of many talents, with the ability to perform many genres. Overall, my experience at the Epik High Los Angeles Concert 2019 was nothing short of amazing. It opened me up to new genres of music and experiences, and I can’t wait to see what else Epik High’s musical lyricism will teach me!