*Gifts (aka: Things That Made Their Way On-Stage From The House) included: Numerous Bras in a Variety of Styles, Colors, and Sizes, Ca$h in unknown amounts, 1 Plastic Birthday Crown, 1 Leather Jacket, 1 Shot of Alcohol, 1 Pair of Men’s Boxer-Briefs, and 1 Minnesota State Flag. Women’s panties were also occasionally seen flying through the air, but the laws of mass and aerodynamics seemed to prevent any from reaching their target.
As noted previously, Jay Park is a bilingual Korean American R&B singer and rapper who came up through b-boying and then K-pop idol-dom. He is the founder of TWO record labels (AOMG & H1GHER MUSIC) and the first Asian artist signed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. He’s a television personality, comedian, and more than a bit of a sex symbol. And he has become a mentor and powerful champion for numerous younger artists.
And the 32 year old Seattle-native’s many facets were on clear display Friday night at the State Theatre. The SOLD OUT Minneapolis show was part of the North American leg of the ambition 4 continent/32 city 2019 SEXY 4EVA WORLD TOUR and it was Jay Park’s first-ever visit to Minnesota.
The Short of It
The Minneapolis show was a big success.
Jay Park is a seasoned performer and has gathered around him a stellar crew of artists, industry professionals, and technicians. The production effects were seamless, lighting and inventive use of video projection provided visual enhancement without overwhelming or distracting from the live performances on stage.
The crowd was eager and willing to go wherever Jay was going to take them (and also some places they suggested themselves). The evening’s musical journey turned out to be a three-act staging: a two-act, 28-song main show (R&B with a heavy side of dance, followed by a hip-hop/rap set), and a robust 7-song encore that almost stands alone as a third act (promoting new artists signed to H1GHER MUSIC). Pre-show warm-up was provided by AOMG artists DJ Wegun and new signee Sogumm. Special guest, rapper Ted Park from H1GHER MUSIC opened the second act. Regardless of who was on stage, the audience was there with them and many, many, many folks were singing along.
Jay’s set-list included all the songs fans would expect mixed in with a number of deeper tracks that super-fans might expect. Many of the songs drew attention to other members of his record labels, even if they weren’t present. He did shy away from higher notes and falsetto on a few songs (“Joah” was most noticeable, but he worked around it well). He’s in the middle of a long tour, it’s easy to imagine his voice is taking a beating- but otherwise Jay sounded great. He should be formally thanked for including “The Truth Is” -it was a surprising but excellent choice for closing out the first half. Second Act also finished strong – “MOMMAE” and “Sexy 4Eva” were perfect closers. Spending a whole evening flipping back and forth between two languages and performing in both with equal depth and prowess – it ain’t no small thing.
Praise is also due for fanservice and shout-outs to locality. It’s always heartening to see a performer pay attention to the city they’re visiting. A shopping trip to MOA, a Timberwolves jersey (Towns #32), chatting about the weather and local food are all great ways to win points with Minnesotans. His surprise b-boy performance was delightful. But Jay checking in with the Hmong community from stage and discovering that they dominated the house was a really nice moment to witness. Representation really does matter.
And then there were the bras…
Overall, a terrific first stop in Minneapolis for Jay Park, and hopefully not the last.
(And anyone fretting over Jay Park’s personal comfort level with his sex symbol status can rest easy after seeing him live -he truly seems quite happy shirtless.)
The Long of It…
If you couldn’t make the show, and/or are looking for an overly-detailed play-by-play of the concert and fan shenanigans, read on…
Stage & Crowd
Walking into the house from the lobby and facing a triptych of gi-normous staggered LED screens basking in the tour’s moody red poster and logo was dramatic and impressive. The largest, center screen was set back from the two flanking side screens. Up-center stage, beneath the middle screen, was the DJ’s station which appeared to be perhaps a u-shaped bar with SEXY 4EVA in lit-up lettering on its face.
The audience was giddy, and many members were pre-gaming and getting tipsy at the bar. A light smell of booze and vibrant chatter filled the space. Lots of Instagramming was happening. Overall, most seemed under the age of 30. Attire ranged from booty-shorts and mini-skirts, to mohawks, to hijabs. It was a majority Asian crowd and the remainder was quite diverse. Also majority female, but with a not insignificant smattering of men sprinkled throughout. Friend groups, siblings, and couples abounded. At least one child was spotted.
Pre-Show: DJ Wegun & Sogumm
At 7:50pm, DJ Wegun appeared and ran through a mix of tracks from AOMG artists. Songs from Jay Park and Cha Cha Malone, some Gray, Loco, and Woo Won Jae collabs, and a classic solo piece from the legendary Simon Dominic were met with enthusiastic approval from the already buzzing house. Wegun would run the onstage audio for the full show.
At 8pm sharp, the lights went out and AOMG’s newest female signee (winner of their recent Sign Here competition show), Sogumm, took the stage. This girl feels like nothing else you will see coming out of the pop music industry in South Korea right now. Her unique, mumble-heavy vocal style and her fresh-faced, girl-next-door appearance defy all K-music industry norms. Her records can be a challenging listen, but seen live, her stage presence and charisma are undeniable. Her six-song set included “Meet Me When the Rain Stops,” “Baby,” and “I Wonder (궁금해),” – which she told the crowd she had written for Jay Park. Sogumm was all smiles and appreciation on stage. Despite her rookie status, she seemed already well-known to the audience and was given a hearty welcome. And at least one gentleman in the front row spent most of an entire song tossing ecstatic finger hearts at her. Crowd warm-up accomplished.
The Show: Act 1 – R&B
The lights went out. The fog machine kick in. A video montage featuring clips from the tour set to “K-Town” dominated the screen. Then dramatic horizontal black bars and red lines took over, and the center screen began to part. Jay Park emerged from striking back-light and smoke, and made his way to the front of the stage in sneakers, dark jeans, a white t-shirt, and a flashy silver holographic denim-style jacket. It was An Entrance, and one that established expectations for quality production value.
Park opened his generous 28-song set of eternal sexiness with four songs in English: back-to-back (EDM) DJ Yultron collabs “Forget About Tomorrow” (2018) and “On Fire” (2019) and two breezy 2016 tracks from home-town friend and long-time collaborator, Cha Cha Malone: “Me Like Yuh” and “Aquaman.” Then he switched into Korean for “Solo” (2015) ft. AOMG’s very first lady-signee, Hoody. Didn’t matter to the crowd which language he used – folks knew the words, either way.
Four dancers -two men and two women- joined Park on stage from the first song, and he spent the whole first half of the show performing choreography with them. The dance component was a huge hit. Hopefully no one was playing any drinking games based on body rolls and/or cheers for body rolls. It would have been a horrifyingly efficient way to get drunk.
The first half of the show continued its trajectory through a number of Parks softer, croonier Korean tracks -this would be the R&B half of the show. “Joah,” of course, was a huge hit and kicked off a short streak of danceless songs, preceding “Drive,” and “My Last.” Then the girls reappeared for bop, “V” and the boys joined in on “All I Wanna Do.”
“Let me take you to the ocean for a little bit…”
(He didn’t need to ask, the audience was ready to go anywhere with him.) It was “Yacht” with a lot of dancing, of course. This stage version combined lyrics from both the English version and the Korean version to good effect.
“…Ok, now we’re back in Minneapolis.”
Which apparently meant more heat was needed. Suddenly, soft and croony morphed into a three-some of smoldery numbers with more sensual choreography and crowd-thrilling pelvic thrusts. In response, undergarments spontaneously leapt through the air and onto the stage. (Not even joking – it escalated quickly.**) Park was literally dodging sailing underwires as he tried to introduce the final song of the first half.
“If we could take a moment from all the bra throwing…if that’s ok with you-all…”
“ …I’m going to slow it down just a little. You might know this song, you might not know this song…” It was “The Truth Is” – one of his more recent and completely underrated/overlooked Korean tracks. It’s a breathy, bitter, brokenhearted ballad with a tinge of dark humor – a complete and pleasant surprise that it made it into the tour. Extra Super Bonus: an unexpected but totally fitting smolder-angst mic-stand dance-break during the song’s climax.
Thus concluded the first half of the SEXY 4EVA concert. Jay Park had made good on his tour promise of sexiness, and many bra-less people seemed in need of cooling-down. A double dance interlude served as a buffer, while the headliner stepped backstage for a breather.
The Show: Act 2 – Hip Hop & Rap
Ted Park -Korean American rapper and H1GHER MUSIC signee- appeared on stage, in nearly all white and bright pink hair. Ted facilitated the mood-shift from Steamy to HYPED with a fierce five-song set, including “Ugly,” “Drippin,” and his newest release, “Shot Clock.” His amped-up performance energized the crowd, and folks sang along with gusto. Born and raised in Madison, WI and now based in Seoul, Ted shared that performing in the Upper Midwest for an Asian crowd had special significance for him and that he would continue to work hard to achieve his dreams as a rapper and musician. He also expressed gratitude to Jay Park for bringing him into H1GHER MUSIC and helping him further his career.
After Ted’s set, Jay reappeared in a white tracksuit, signalling that the transition into the hip-hop half of the show was complete. He re-opened with Korean track “Worldwide” and followed up in English with the X Hit-Boy collab “20/20” (which appears in Madden NFL 20 and on his brand new joint Hit-Boy Roc Nation EP, This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen), and “FSU” (from his 2018 Roc Nation debut EP, Ask Bout Me). There is no denying the kid’s rap game.
The show then took a brief but exciting detour. Jay paused to announce that the stage floor was really nice, and that even though he doesn’t do it much any more, and hadn’t done it on tour at all, he wanted to try something for Minneapolis: b-boying. Inviting the crowd to clap a beat, and asking DJ Wegun for sound support, he put his spine on the floor in a memorable display that shows the dude’s still got moves. Recovering -and possibly contemplating a visit to a chiropractor- Jay removed his track jacket to reveal a navy blue Timberwolves jersey: Towns #32, with MINNESOTA emblazoned across the chest. This was met with wild cheers and screams of appreciation from the house.
Then it was back to slaying verse and hearts with a strong four-song stretch towards the close. Ahead of his English track “Soju,” Jay announced he was working to launch his own soju brand next year.*** He offered to come share a shot with his Minneapolis fans, “For everybody that’s over 21, I mean…” -even if he had to bring it himself. This offer was met with resounding cheers.
Another X Hit-Boy track, “K-Town” lead into the slower Korean jam “You Know,” and his banger ode to the female form, “MOMMAE” took the penultimate spot on the set list. This was, of course, accompanied by twerking dancers and capped off with a surprise cannon blast of gold streamers into the house. The crowd reached an appropriate level of fevered-pitch.
The Timberwolves jersey came off and landed on some appreciative audience member near the front. Another volley of brassieres was instigated by an impressive EEE (or larger?) support device. (Couldn’t make this up. It even eventually ended up on Jay’s head for a bit.) Panties followed, but none quite reached the stage. Someone down front handed Jay cash bills, and he obligingly tucked a couple into his waistband with good humor.
And then it was time for “Sexy 4Eva” – another English track off Talk Bout Me and the tour’s namesake. The shirtless hero on stage asked everyone to waste their phone batteries for just one song and turn on their camera lights. And everyone sang along as he walked the stage singing and signing objects handed up from below.
And that was it for the main show.
Encore & Fanservice
However, Jay Park was not done. He quickly returned to the stage for a generous seven-song encore, promoting music from other artists on his labels and chatting up the crowd.
Jay opened with his cover of B.o.B’s “Nothing On You,” which relaunched his career in 2010 after spitting from idol group 2pm. But he cut the song short: “Hold on, Hold on. …OK. Hold up. That song is too old. You guys remember that? Me in the bathroom just, like, sniffly nose and all that shit. Came a long way, right?” [HUGE CHEER] “I feel the same way, but you know what I’m saying…” Then he asked for some sing-along support, coaching the crowd, “All day, all day, all day” and re-launched the encore with a current track, “All Day (Flex).”
Someone down front lent him a gold plastic crown as he segued into the Show Me the Money 6 track, “Birthday” by calling out to the audience and asking who was having a birthday. After which, things got chaotic as someone lobbed a black leather jacket at him. He was a good sport about the sudden attack, but asked quite reasonably, “Please don’t throw [things] at my face.” Then he tried to put it on and almost got stuck due to its petite size. Staff had to help extract him, and then almost confiscated the jacket, presumably to add it to the growing bra-pile backstage. He bravely accepted a shot of alcohol from the front row, before calling Ted Park back on stage for their English track “Stutter.” Later, someone in the front handed him a cash cannon money gun-thing, purportedly loaded with bills, but it seemed jammed. Covers of H1GHER MUSIC productions followed: “Giddy Up” and “Iffy Iffy” (both from Sik-K and friends).
Another highlight of the night came in the form of an unusual request. Jay asked the audience to help him record an encouraging video message for “Korean Zombie” -the UFC fighter signed with AOMG. (Chan Sung Chung has a match coming up soon.) Of course, everyone was more than happy to oblige, and the KOREAN ZOMBIE, FIGHTING!!!! Video was successfully captured by a staff member.
Jay called everyone onto the stage for thanks and appreciations. Sogumm and the dancers joined him, along with Ted Park and DJ Wegun. Then, at last, came the final song of the encore -what was likely part of “Everywhere We Go” (from Avatar Darko, another H1GHER MUSIC artist) closed out the show.
At the very end, as the whole crew prepared to leave the stage, fans in the front row passed up a giant Minnesota State flag covered in signatures and messages. Jay Park admired the gift and then draped it over his shoulder with a flourish as he exited the stage, still naked to the waist and Sexy 4Eva.
The buzzing of anticipation was replaced with an even more intense buzzing of satisfaction as most of the audience made their way to the exits -fistfulls of golden “MOMMAE” streamers in-hand- and VIP ticket holders queued up for their group photo ops with His Sexiness. Smiling faces everywhere. The only thing missing from the show was room in the house for dancing. Out on the street, someone exclaimed “He should have been at Skyway!”
Jay Park delivered an incredibly fun show for an appreciative house full of fans. Hopefully he sees that he has a loyal following in this neck of the woods, and decides to make Minneapolis a regular tour stop.
**First a single white bustier, then a popcorn barrage of intimate wear, including a pair of boxer-briefs -much to everyone’s amusement. Earlier in the evening Park had proclaimed “Men can be sexy, too!” And someone was clearly feeling himself in the moment.
***Soju, a notoriously strong clear starch-distilled alcohol, could surely be considered South Korea’s unofficial national beverage. If you’ve never had it, imagine something somewhere between vodka and sake.