Irving Plaza in New York City is no stranger to international acts gracing their stage. Just within the past two month, two different Korean acts were able to sell out the 1,000 capacity venue; not an easy feat even for accomplished domestic artists. This month, South Korean indie band Hyukoh played a sold out show at the New York venue on Sep. 11. Irving Plaza was packed, so much that people were spilling out of the doors and into the hallway due to the lack of space on the venue floor.
After a short wait, the band entered onto the stage and began to warm up their instruments to start the show. Drum beats were played and the familiar guitar chords from “Tokyo Inn” started to play. People instantly began bobbing along to the catchy woos of the song. “Comes and Goes” was up next, continuing on with the jazzy laid back feel of the previous song followed by the upbeat swing song “Leather Jacket.” Despite the venue being packed, people made due with what little room they had to dance along.
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For the first MC of the night, vocalist Oh Hyuk introduced the band and thanked everyone for coming to their first show in New York. The shy personality of the band’s front-man then came front and center as the rest of the talk consisted of short mumbles and awkward silence until the next song started up. The set continued with a few more upbeat songs one of them being “Wonderful Barn,” a song first heard on popular Korean variety show Infinity Challenge’s summer music festival special back in 2015. The country inspired song was full of dramatic pauses and tempo changes built up suspense and kept the audience engaged.
The show continued on as red lights flooded the stage and the band played the mysterious sounding “Wanli.” The intensity picked up with “MASITNONSOUL,” and then immediately died down with “Jesus Lives in a Motel Room” and “Die Alone.” The somber mood continued with “Mer” and “Gondry.” The quiet and simple notes of the songs emphasized Oh Hyuk’s unique vocals, showing off the softness, strength, and sincerity in his voice.
The next song was “TOMBOY,” the title track off of their latest album 23. The crowd got really into the sweet and sentimental rock ballad, singing along to the lyrics about overcoming young adulthood and belting out the ohs along with Oh Hyuk. After a few more songs, the band announced that the next track would be their last song and began to play “Paul.” As the song played, the audience raised their cellphone lights and slowly waved them back and forth, creating a sea of shimmering lights. The song ended on a quiet note and the audience erupted into cheers as the band left the stage.
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Cheers for an encore immediately began, and soon after, the band came back onto the stage and played “Hooka.” Next up was arguably the most popular song of the night was “Wi Ing Wi Ing.” No matter if you were a casual or dedicated fan, everyone knew this song and sang along passionately as Oh Hyuk turned his mic towards the audience so they could sing a verse. The last song of the night was the funky “Surf Boy,” which ended the concert on a light and happy note.
Hyukoh definitely brought a taste of Hongdae to New York with their unique sound and quirky charms. The band has an indie vibe but exudes more confidence and certainty in their sound and identity than most other bands. With this show, Hyukoh showed their versatility in the amount of different music genres their songs encompass all while still maintaining a sound that is uniquely their own. Hyukoh is definitely a band you should keep a close eye on to see what new and excite music they will come up with next.
Did you go to the show? What’s your favorite Hyukoh show? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.