Every K-Pop idol group needs a fanclub, and every fanclub needs a name. The fanclub for RBW’s rookie male group ONEUS (원어스, pronounced in English as “One Us”) was officially dubbed “To Moon” earlier this year.
And the To Moons were out in force this last night for the penultimate ONEUS 2019 ‘Fly With Us’ Tour in U.S.A. show at the Pantages Theatre. The tour was made possible by MyMusicTaste, a concert promoter that crowdsources fan-interest around the world before booking tour routes. This means that enough local To Moons participated in the MyMusicTaste TastMaker voting process to secure Minneapolis a spot on the “Fly With Us” tour. And everybody (an enthusiastic and diverse cohort of women under the age of 40) seemed pretty happy about it.
All six members -Ravn, Leedo, Keonhee, Hwanwoong, Seoho, and Xion- were in attendance and presented a full concert with 13 songs, 4 costume changes, 2 VCRs,* 1 Special Stage, 1 polaroid raffle for 12 lucky fans, and a 2-song encore.
The members’ energetic songs and lively personalities presented within the coziness of the Pantages Theatre created a fun and intimate event for everyone in the house. Especially effective was the time they took between pairs of songs to introduce themselves, goof around, and ask questions of the audience. ONEUS created a comfortable and memorable atmosphere for their fans.
After a dramatic opening with “Time” and “Valkyrie”, the members (in the white and gray satin costumes from the “Lit” music video, and assisted at times by a female translator) paused to introduce themselves and encouraged the crowd to get hyped for the show. Hwanwoong -who appears quite vertically challenged next to his fellow members- introduced himself as being “in charge of height and personality” and took on the much of the MC duties for the evening in a mix of English and Korean. Hwanwoong also took a moment to address fan safety during the show: “Don’t push! Don’t kick! Can you promise?” And members helped demonstrate the behaviors they hoped to prevent in a lighthearted manner. This helped set the tone for the show.
“Eye Contact” and “Plastic Flower” were followed by another pause. They stopped everything and turned on the house lights to engage in literal eye contact with their fans -in 10 second increments. The boys became a bouncing pack and bobbed across the stage as a unit, beaming their smiles and waves into the crowd -stage left, stage right, center stage, and then up at the balcony. Fans got to feel seen and appreciated and nothing was rushed. Then the members confessed that the dance for “Plastic Flower” was created especially for the tour (it was not a song they had promoted or performed live in South Korea) and they had been nervous to share it. The confession was met with great cheers of approval. Next came “English Girl” and “Zigzag.”
VCRs & Special Stage
A two-story cyclorama of some sort masked the back wall of the stage and featured different dynamic mood-setting projections for each song. It also served as the screen for the VCRs,* the first of which was a Show Me the Money parody called Show Me the Us. In this silly-fied ONEUS version of the South Korean rap battle tv show, main rappers Leedo and Ravn consider the remaining members for a solo feature on their song “Crazy & Crazy.” The winner was revealed with the subsequent live performance of the song, and Hwanwoong emerged as the victor, coming on after Ravn and Leedo to take the third rapper’s part. “Level Up” followed immediately, with all members now in black suits and white buttondown shirts with strategically undone collars.
Another pause for water and chatting and suddenly a Special Stage was teased and they asked the audience to guess what it might be. Mercifully, covering “Uptown Funk” has perhaps finally passed out of vogue with male idol groups performing in the States. ONEUS presented instead an enthusiastic dance stage with an unlikely medley of Western songs: “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X / “Murder” by Justin Timberlake (with Hwanwoong umbrella dance solo) / “Bad Blood” by NAO (with a strong side of collective SMOLDER). It was a surprising mix and a refreshing gift for fans.
Then the second VCR -this time a making-of clip for their song “Lit” (가자), wherein members, lounging around without makeup in everyday clothes, challenged each other make ridiculous gestures while recording vocals in the sound booth. Much laughter ensued. The video then cut to a cinematic scene, like something out of an historical drama: all members in black robes, domed woven hats, and carrying swords sparred elegantly with each other in courtyard strewn with fallen leaves.
Back on stage, now in coordinating black satin costumes (echoing the art direction of their most recent music video), ONEUS followed up the VCR with a solid performance of “Lit.”
Polaroids & Ballads
The concert took a sudden detour after “Lit” wherein it was announced that the members would do a raffle for fans for autographed Polaroids that they had taken backstage -two from each member. The mechanics of successfully running the raffle and getting the lucky winners to dance on command was impressive. It took a little bit but the gang on stage managed it and kept the whole crowd entertained in the process with much silly singing, dancing, and goofing around. Xion was especially a good sport, repeatedly demonstrating how winners should dance.
Then it was ballad time: “White Night” and “Red Thread.” The first accompanied by mic stands and audience cell phone flashlights, per ONEUS’ request; the second with red scarves and some pensive choreography onstage.
End of Show
Hwanwoong announced that the show was sadly coming to a close. Each member took a moment to share their thoughts on their tour experience and the evening’s show. Several boys expressed how amazed they were to have so many fans overseas that they were able to do a tour. Leedo stated that he was unsure how many fans would come out to greet them in Minneapolis and was happily surprised, something along the lines of “I didn’t know there were so many of you!” Xion shared that his aunt and cousin were in the audience and he was so grateful for the opportunity to perform for them, since they do not live in South Korea. Many thanks were given to To Moons for helping to bring ONEUS overseas with MyMusicTaste. Ravn closed with “Whenever you call us, we’ll come!”
“Twilight” was the closer, much to the crowd’s delight. But the house lights stayed dim after the boys exited, and the crowd began to chant for an encore. The cyc screen came back to life with the group’s logo and they all returned in t-shirts and sweatshirts for a two-song encore: breezy dance track “BingBing” and ballad “Last Song.” For “Last Song” the house lights came up and members walked around the stage casually and greeted fans. They shook hands, took selfies with fans’ phones, and accepted gifts from those near the stage. Eventually, they got around to performing the choreography for the song and it was an excellent soft-close finale that surely left warm, fuzzy vibes with every To Moon in the house.
With a final “THANK YOU!!!” the show was over and ONEUS, venue and tour staff, and VIP and VVIP ticket-holders began to prepare for the High-Touch and Selfie events that would come after.
ONEUS Set List: Time / Valkyrie / Eye Contact / Plastic Flower (윙윙윙윙) / English Girl / Zigzag / Crazy & Crazy / Level Up / Special Stage: Dance Medley / Lit (가자) / White Night / Red Thread / Twilight / Encore: BingBing & Last Song
Many of ONEUS’ members had trained with other idol agencies and participated in competitive (and were eliminated from) idol-maker tv programs such as Produce 101 and Mix Nine before making their way to RBW (entertainment company) and at last debuting in a new idol group. And in their first year alone, they have already released three substantial EPs.
The ONEUS members have worked hard to break into K-Pop and their passion for their profession is clearly visible in their regard for their fans and the joy they bring to their performances. They have a growing catalog of songs with a nice variety of genres, strong vocal and dance skills, and charming affability on stage. They are off to an excellent start and you can hardly tell they’re still a rookie group.
More from MyMusicTaste
MyMusicTaste is bringing male idol group A.C.E. to Minneapolis on December 6th – keep an eye out for the TCM preview! And if you’re looking to keep up with MMT promotions or want to vote as a TasteMaker, take a look at their Campaigns.
*VCR: K-Pop concert vocabulary for a “pre-recorded video” which is usually played to allow for a costume change and/or to reconfigure the stage. The collective wisdom of the internet assumes that, at one time, these video interludes would have been played (from a VHS tape) on a Videocassette Recorder (VCR). For whatever reason the short-hand term “VCR” has just stuck. K-Pop VCRs are rarely released outside of concerts – which is a shame. VCRs are often comedic (some, downright silly), but sometimes they are highly produced and quite elaborate, like mini films or stand-alone pieces of video art. Thanks goodness for fancams.