So perhaps it should come as no surprise the agency’s annual year-end concert “Brand New Year” held Saturday at the KBS Sports World in Seoul was more of a club party than a concert. Security was minimal and the standing crowd was nearly within arm’s reach of the stage. Audience members roamed around freely, taking breaks outside to recharge while waiting for their favorite artists to hit the stage. Inside, audience members chatted and took selfies with the stage as a backdrop.
No one could blame them; the concert stretched for over four hours, wrapping up near midnight after starting 20 minutes late at 7:20 p.m. Sixteen artists were in the lineup as well as special guests from Mnet’s “Show Me the Money” rap competition and the hip-hop unit from Pledis boy group Seventeen, keeping the audience going until the finale.
|Artists perform at "Brand New Year 2015" (Brand New Music)|
“It seems like yesterday when we had our end-of-year concert last year,” said rapper San E at a press conference before the concert. “This is already our label’s 15th anniversary, which means a lot to me. It’s not easy for all of us to get together. I hope we’ll have more days like this.”
After an opening performance from DJ Juice, rap duo Eluphant kicked off the concert with “People & Places,” “Lighthouse” and “Star Candy.” Female group Miss $, newly a duo following member Oh Yu-mi’s exit, excited the crowd with renditions of hits “Cheater” and “You Look Good Pt. 2.” Trio Phantom got the crowd on their feet with a set including “Could You Be Mine?” and “ICE,” while rapper P-Type added weight with his socially conscious lyrics.
“This year’s ‘Brand New Year’ is definitely different because there are new faces in the lineup,” Verbal Jint told press, referring to the addition of MC Gree and KittiB.
MC Gree, the son of comedian Kim Gu-ra, became an official Brand New artist this year after training as a rapper with the label. Ahead of the performance, he had said that he felt a great deal of responsibility about joining the concert, but his dance performance and an untitled track featuring fellow Brand New artist Kanto received an enthusiastic response.
KittiB, the newest addition to Brand New after coming in second on Mnet’s rap competition program “Unpretty Rapstar Season 2,” held her own with “I’m Her,” “On the Edge” and “Ronda Rousey Flow.”
Singer Yang Da-il and rapper Candle gave the audience a relaxing break with romantic tracks “Think” and “Stay with You.” Crooner Bumkey kicked off with a five-track medley of “My Everything,” “The Lady,” “Don’t Be Happy,” “Walking in the Rain” and “Home.” Although his voice cracked and seemed shaky for the first few minutes, he found his groove again when he sang an untitled, unreleased track for the first time for the audience.
The most explosive performances of the night came from headliners San E and Verbal Jint. San E playfully asked an audience member to sing on his track “A Midsummer Night’s Sweetness” and Verbal Jint’s steady stage presence anchored the crowd despite the late hour. The two rappers also performed together with “Show Me the Money” breakouts Basick and Black Nut in what was arguably the most energetic segment of the concert. San E was particularly notable in the “Show Me the Money” performance, showing a rougher side to him that he had kept reserved when performing his more pop-friendly hits.
The handsome hip-hop unit from rookie boy group Seventeen (S.coups, Vernon, Wonwoo and Mingyu) also did their part, lightening the mood and getting a good share of idol concert-worthy squeals from the audience.
“I think Brand New creates music that can be easily enjoyed and understood by anyone,” said Jace of Miss $. “Hip-hop doesn’t necessarily have to be rough and full of curse words. My parents like our music, too.” She seemed to have a point -- at the concert, it was easy to spot middle-aged audience members both in the seats and in the standing crowd, all hollering and enjoying the concert to its fullest.
The concert wrapped up with Brand New’s end-of-year project single “Brand New S***,” as well as past end-of-year singles “You Make Me Feel BRAND NEW” and “Brand New Day.”
“I think getting together like this each year to create a single and have a concert helps us to bond more as a label,” said San E. “In 2016, I hope we’ll have more chances to do a project together.”
By Won Ho-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)