On Friday night I ventured outside of my comfort zone to attend the K-Pop group KARD’s show at the State Theatre. When I saw their name as a coming show to Minneapolis I thought this must be be a heavy metal band of some kind. Wrong, completely wrong. KARD, a k-pop group from South Korea is a rising star on the world stage as the genre continues to gain steam. Members J.Seph, B.M, Somin, and Jiwoo are the result of a rigorous system born out of South Korea in the early nineties which trains their artists through a routine of language lessons, dance classes, and relentless practice. Testament to this was a short video during KARD’s show which showed the members during their first auditions, practices, and interviews where you could only respect the dedication which they all displayed.
Opening the show luckily I knew the first few songs, that didn’t matter much as I ran up and down the stairs hauling my gear. I can make it from stage to the far back of the theatre in under 20 seconds, fun fact. The opening songs were Oh Nana and Hola hola. For those who know KARD these are a coupe of staple songs as well as dances the group performs. Something I was very unaware of with KARD and K-Pop before this show is that the performance relies heavily if not a majority on visuals. Light shows, screen graphics, and solid choreography take the focus of the audience and I will say that just seeing the group move took my attention away from the fact I know ZERO Korean. Knowing the language in a song isn’t necessary, I think a lot of billboard top hits prove that, but it was even more clear while I was at this show.
After finishing their opening hit tracks KARD took the stage in a little more casual setting to take the questions of their fans which had been submitted prior to the show. There was the normal Q&As, who would you date if anyone, how do you like Minneapolis, etc. The one which I found most intriguing though was, apologies for my misquoting if I am here as it was translated, how it felt to see so many of their fans present in support of them. The entire group shared a similar sentiment, it’s incredible and they are beyond words seeing people around the world coming out to see them. I was surprised by this myself because being in the midst of an ocean of fans who had rounded the entire street just minutes earlier to get into the show I figured they must have support all over. And though they are rising stars I have since learned they are just breaking through and by K-Pop standards only just recently debuted and gone on tour which is a huge accomplishment as many K-Pop trainees never make it to this point. Their answers throughout the session were clearly sincere and heart felt and now reading into what they gave to get to this point I can only applaud their seemingly humble presence.
Question time finished and what followed was the last thing I expected, even now knowing the influence which U.S artists have had on K-Pop. The group came back on stage as I made my way to my seat with a cover of Rihanna’s Monster. If I had stayed in the entrance to the theatre you could have told me it was just a recording of Rihanna frankly, the sound was spot on and for a cover I was impressed.
The next couple songs were a blur. Now reaching my seat I was only able to stand in aw as the entire crowd sang along song after song in unison. Yet another thing I have since learned with excessive YouTube research is a norm for K-Pop and the energy nothing strange for these shows. It’s infectious honestly. I didn’t know a single word outside of Hola Hola and some english lyrics, nor did I care.
I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do at this point just 24 hours removed from my first ever K-Pop show. I walked into the night thinking it was going to be some gimmicky knock off of the pop we grew up in the U.S hearing the last 15 years. I am very pleasantly realizing I was wrong and happy to admit it. South Korea took an idea and turned it into an established system of artist training and music promotion which I can only stand in aw of. The artists being produced by K-Pop could be looked at as many things but dedicated is most definitely one and their fan base is energized in a way I haven’t seen for some time. Congratulation KARD and your Wild KARDs, I am a convert and happy to support the movement.