After a three-year long break, Epik High has finally presented us with another masterpiece. We’ve Done Something Wonderful is a beautiful commemoration of the group’s 14-year career. Camiele’s review provides an extensive breakdown of the album. As a show of gratitude to their fans for being patient, Epik High’s comeback concert offered an experience of a lifetime. The concert was held in the past weekend, merely a week after the start of their album sales. Held in quick succession following their album release, fans had the pleasure of being the first to watch the group’s new songs performed live.
The group is known for their performativity and quirkiness. From parody posters to extravagant costumes (see their 2012 MAMA performance titled “HATE Mental Hospital”), they did not disappoint with this concert. For the entire time waiting for the concert to begin, the stage held a single grand piano illuminated by a blue light. A translucent screen shielded the stage from complete view. The dramatic build-up certainly paid off when the concert started with an unidentifiable figure at the piano. Before he finished his piece, the piano is raised and suspended in the air. The stage lights flashes and the trio is seen standing like corpses within the stacked cuboid blocks onstage.
Kicking off with “People Scare Me,” Epik High catered to fans by performing their newest songs first. Despite these being new songs, the crowd was already echoing the lyrics loudly. Watching such a moment unfold even in the first few minutes of the concert, it seemed as though the three-year break never happened. Following quickly after, the darker introspective depth of “No Thanxxx,” coupled with its heavier beat track helped create a synergy between the audience and the group onstage. Having Epik High perform it live established a level of intimacy without dampening the atmosphere.
We’ve Done Something Wonderful has a repertoire that oscillates between the hard-hitting tracks and more melancholic ones. The concert reordered itself to transition from the heavier tones of “People Scare Me,” “No Thanxxx,” and “Bleed” to softer tunes. The performance proceeded with the entrance of AkMU ’s Soohyun in singing “The Benefits of Heartbreak”. As the melody echoed throughout the hall, it was hard not to be captivated by the tinge of sadness in her voice. She took on the vocals portions of “Love Story” and “1 Minute 1 Second” as well, delivering each with skill.
Soohyun was one out of the few unexpected guests on the first concert day. After the group’s performance of “LOVE LOVE LOVE,” they exited the stage. Much to the audience’s surprise, veteran ballad singer Im Chang-jung came on. Not only did he deliver two brilliant performances of “또 다시 사랑” (“Love Again”) and “내가 저지른 사랑” (“The Love That I Committed”), he was also entertaining in his conversation with the audience. In addition to these two stellar guests, Kim Jong-wan of Nell and Ha Dong-kyun also joined Tablo onstage. The guest list goes on for the second day of the comeback concert. It really is a pity I did not get the opportunity to watch them because the names for the following day are impressive: IU, Lee Hi, and Psy.
In the group’s dialogue with the audience, Tablo expressed how time seemed to pass so quickly without them noticing. Autumn came and went and returned again only for them to find three years had passed. The tone of nostalgia and poignant reminiscence of many years of hard work as a group carried itself throughout the album, and it certainly translated onstage. Dedicating “Us Against The World” to their fans who had waited so eagerly yet patiently for them, the group expressed their gratitude to the audience.
However, it would not be a hip hop concert or an Epik High concert without an outburst of energy. Leaving the melancholy behind with “Us Against The World,” the audience had the privilege of witnessing DJ Tukutz’s solo DJ performance. Not only was it musically brilliant, it was a visual spectacle. His beats coordinated with the larger-than-life screen in the background. Neon lights and lasers where soon in full dazzlement around the hall as Epik High brought the audience back in time with a medley of their older hits. The audience were bouncing energetically along to “Kill This Love,” “High Technology,” “ONE,” and “New Beautiful.” It was a full out dance party with sweaty bodies brushing against each other in the standing zones.
As though following a trajectory of rising and falling action, the energy cooled off with Tablo left alone on the stage. He addressed the audience, thanking Epik High fans once again for their dedication and support before interluding into the much-loved title song “Home Is Far Way.” Before the song began, Tablo asked for the audience to sing along, jokingly saying that fans probably know the lyrics even better than he does. There was certainly a lot more truth in his casual comment. During Oh Hyuk’s vocal parts, it seemed every single audience member was chorusing along.
The screen came down and the concert seemed to be at its end, but the audience was determined for an encore. As fans will know, Epik High has never been a group that disappoints. Bursting back onstage with “Born Hater” and “Fly,” they stirred up the atmosphere within a split second. Fireworks were flaring from the stage and the audience was jumping along energetically. The group proceeded to a more melancholic song of “Umbrella,” rallying the audience to sing in the chorus parts. The song could not be more appropriate as the second last song of the day. “Umbrella” is a song narrating the yearning of a lost love that had provided much shelter and comfort. Hearing the lyrics of the chorus echo with the audience, Epik High shared an intimate moment with their fans. The performance of “Umbrella,” released in 2008, evokes a shared moment of nostalgia with fans that had come a long way with the group.
Arguably, the climax of the concert was at its very end. Videos of Tablo dancing to BTS’ “Fire” during the concert is finding its way on the internet now, but the whole hoo-ha started with Tablo’s tweet back in 2015. He promised to upload a video of him dancing if the “Born Hater” MV reached 10 million views.
He admitted on twitter in August this year that he had not expected the MV to hit 10 million views because it was Rated 19+. However, he also agreed a deal is a deal and asked for time to practise before showing his dance at Epik High’s comeback concert. He later uploaded a text message conversation with BTS’ Suga asking to be taught the choreography for “Fire” and snippets of his dance practice.
During the concert itself, a video montage of Tablo struggling to learn the dance sent the audience into an excited buzz, though it closed with a promise it will only be shown next year. Tablo apologised and admitted to the impossibility of the performance, especially since it is known for its insane dance steps. Epik High proceeded with “Don’t Hate Me” and the audience went with the flow. Yet, Epik High, being Epik High, keeps their promises no matter what. “Don’t Hate Me” cut off once the audience yelled the final line of the chorus with the trio, and the iconic chorus of “Fire” came on. Tablo did his best, with DJ Tukutz and Mithra Jin following along. Though it was definitely imperfect in choreography, the sincerity of the performance far outweighed Tablo’s inadequate dancing skills.
We’ve Done Something Wonderful is a magnificently put together present for fans, standing as a testament to Epik High’s musical and lyrical brilliance. The comeback concert is an extension of this particular present. The group’s personality is clear onstage – always striving to present spectacle after spectacle in both nuanced and enjoyable ways. Within the comfortably sized venue of Blue Square, the group’s sincerity, gratitude to their fans, and hard work in the past three years were all evident. To a certain extent, Epik High’s comeback concert was not just a performance but a memory and certainly a gift shared with those who had shown their support for the group in the past decade and more.