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[Herald Review] Big names light up stage at ‘Blue Spring Hip-hop Festa’

Rapper Loco performs at the Blue Spring Festival (Courtesy of Blue Spring Festival)
Rapper Loco performs at the Blue Spring Festival (Courtesy of Blue Spring Festival)

As large-scale concerts are coming back with the slow lifting of pandemic and social distancing rules across the nation, an abundant number of concertgoers filled the Jangchung Arena in Jung-gu, Seoul, Friday night as big-name R&B and hip-hop artists took the stage for “Blue Spring Hip-hop Festa.”

The concert is an offshoot of the Blue Spring Festival, one of the country‘s biggest music festivals, which takes place in a different city each year.

The first session took place this year under the theme “Hip-hop is One,” and various faces from the global hip-hop agency AOMG’s roster made for an unforgettable night of hip-hop megahit performances.

Even before the event started, hundreds of fans from different regions gathered around the venue to enjoy the night. As the clock struck 5 p.m., avid audience members decked out in the trending hip-hop style here -- baggy t-shirts, loose clothes, tank tops, sunglasses and shorts -- entered the venue.

Donned in white from head to toe, singer-songwriter ELO kicked off the electrifying night with a 30-minute set. The hyped-up crowd responded with cheers and applause – one of the things they likely missed the most during the COVID-19 era.

Later, R&B artist Hoody took the baton to ramp up the evening. The solo female act’s performance mixed her soulful voice with various hip-hop genres, covering the stadium with smooth R&B.

The thrill and energy intensified inside the indoor stadium in the 60th minute, as Mnet’s “Show Me The Money 8” winner Punchnello took the stage. Along with his hits, he ended his set with a performance of “Back,” a track on the “Demon Youth” album he released in 2021. 


Rapper Coogie performs at the Blue Spring Festival (Courtesy of Blue Spring Festival)
Rapper Coogie performs at the Blue Spring Festival (Courtesy of Blue Spring Festival)

Singer-songwriter Meenoi went up next. She emerged as the stage fog cleared, and opened her set with “Salang Salang,” the title track of her first LP, “In My Room,” which was released last year.

“Am I not lightening up the mood enough because many of my songs are calm?” she asked, worrying that the ambiance would get too mellowed out.

But fans put her concerns to rest by singing along to her megahits -- “Da Da!” “Busy Guy,” and “I Can’t Wait!” -- and waved their hands as the singer paced back and forth across the stage.

The event took a majestic turn as rapper Coogie stepped into the venue. Knowing how to make the audience feel they are sharing the night with him, Coogie performed his megahits, including “Good Night,” “MBTI,” “Achoo” and “Life Goes On.”

The latter half of the festival became more vibrant and vivacious, as eagle-eyed fans’ anticipation grew for rappers Woo Won-jae, Loco and Simon Dominic.

Clad in his signature look -- a black beanie and a black Adidas jacket -- Woo Won-jae was the first to take the stage among the three. As “Black Out,” a track on his first namesake LP released in 2020, blasted out of the speakers, the crowd responded with fan chants and claps during his half-hour set. 


Rappers Woo Won-jae and Loco perform at the Blue Spring Hip-hop Festival at Jangchung Arena, Jung-gu, Seoul, on Friday. (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
Rappers Woo Won-jae and Loco perform at the Blue Spring Hip-hop Festival at Jangchung Arena, Jung-gu, Seoul, on Friday. (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)

Rapper Loco, also known as the winner of “Show Me The Money 1,” went straight to his megahits to light up the show: “Don’t,” “Here,” “MBTI,” “On It,” “Hold Me Tight,” “It Takes Time,” “Too Much,” and “Still.” He laid on every beat the DJ gave him, giving fans many moments to remember. After Loco’s solo performance, Woo Won-jae hopped on the stage to perform “We Are” and “No Manners” with Loco.

Loco also teased a snippet of his new duet with Mamamoo’s Hwasa, titled “Somebody!” which was released on Monday evening.

The four-hour session of pure madness and fun ended with Simon Dominic’s set. Fans cherished every moment by taking pictures and videos on their phones, while chanting at the top of their lungs: “Simon, Simon Dominic, Simon D.o.m.i.n.i.c oh, oh.”

The night’s highlight came as Loco, Woo Won-jae and Coogie returned to the stage to perform “Make Her Dance.”

To show their gratitude to the concertgoers, who had waited so long for the much-anticipated seasonal concert, the rappers came down from the stage to hold audience members’ hands and to sign albums that fans had brought.

By Park Jun-hee (junheee@heraldcorp.com)
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