SINGAPORE, Sept 11 ― Singapore attracts its fair share of international acts but it’s never had a K-pop music festival until now. The recent Hallyu Pop Fest promises to be the first of many such events.
Running from September 7-9, the festival provided musical variety with afternoon showcases and nightly concerts as well as a red carpet event that let fans get a closer look at their favourite artists.
Festival goers with musical aspirations also had the chance to audition with three K-pop agencies: Jellyfish, CUBE and Starship.
Singer Eric Nam proved to be an able multitasker, managing to emcee each nightly concert while also performing his own set. A testament to both his stamina and talent.
The main draw of the concert, however, was K-pop supergroup Wanna One ― a project group who will be disbanding by the end of 2018. Hallyu Pop Fest was one more chance for Singaporean fans to catch their favourites performing for not one, but two nights out of the three nightly concerts.
Wanna One fans were promised different setlists for each night and the band mostly delivered on that promise.
While the songs Boomerang and Energetic were performed each of the two nights Wanna One were on, otherwise the selection of songs were varied and composed of fan favourites including the crowdpleasing “fan song” I Promise You.
Despite a few of the members, including centre Kang Daniel, coming down with illness and injury, the group performed with their trademark flair and showmanship. Judging from the rapturous crowd on both nights, Wanna One did not disappoint their loyal fanbase.
While Wanna One was a highlight, the line-up for Hallyu Pop Fest was certainly impressive ― with not just notable rookies such as Victon, Snuper and ONF, but a varied line-up of established soloists and groups.
Huh Gak, most famous for his heartwrenching renditions of drama soundtrack ballads, was in fine form on the first night’s concert. His powerful vocals are truly impressive “live”, moving many in the audience to wave their phone flashlights along to his singing.
Apink’s Jeong Eunji delighted concertgoers by joining Huh Gak to perform their duet Short Hair. Her band later performed six songs on the night, including their chart-topping So Sick and crowd pleasers such as Mr. Chu and No No No.
Speaking of crowd pleasers , girl group Momoland performed for both the first night’s concert as well as the second day’s afternoon showcase.
Their viral hit Boom Boom may have brought them to popular notice but they used the event to highlight their criminally underrated discography ― performing songs such as Freeze and the EDM version of Wonderful Love.
Momoland was down one member due to illness and another was forced to perform in a chair after sustaining a leg injury. Despite those setbacks the girls still managed to turn in a high-octane, entertaining performance.
Girl group EXID also drew rapturous crowd responses, thanks to the return of main vocalist Solji who had taken a break due to health issues. This was the first time in over a year that EXID had performed as five, after having to temporarily promote as a quartet.
Their setlist included their monster hit Up&Down as well as the more recent DDD, though they left out their latest single Lady. Still, the crowd was pumped enough to sing along to older hits such as L.I.E, Ah Yeah, Hot Pink and Every Night.
The loud cheers and fan chants would make outsiders think it was an EXID concert, and not just them performing as one of the line-up.
Soloist Soyou (of the disbanded group Sistar) performed another surprise collaboration, singing the song Some with soloist Jeong Sewoon on the second night’s concert.
Soyou was just recently seen on the reality show Produce 48 as a vocal trainer. Despite stating her nervousness about performing as a solo artist, on her first stint in Singapore, she needn’t have worried ― the audience was suitably impressed with her renditions of tracks such as Touch My Body, Ma Boy and I Swear.
From the first two days alone, Hallyu Pop Fest delivered on its promise of spoiling festival goers with a choice selection of talented performers. One aspect that organisers should look into for the next instalment (if it happens) is better preparation for bad weather.
Fans and media were forced to wait without protection or shelter for nearly two hours in the rain waiting for their favourites to arrive on the first day of the red carpet.
As far as performances went, however, the line-up was excellent and the various setlists well chosen to satisfy the fans of each particular artist.
Staging was also fairly good and there were no glaring technical issues, with good audio and video production allowing fans from wherever they were seated to both see and hear their faves without issue.
Hallyu Pop Fest could have done with better promotions outside of Singapore ― especially in Malaysia. While neighbouring Thailand hosts plenty of its own Kpop concerts and events, Malaysians are not as spoiled.
Samsung Mobile was the main sponsor in Singapore ― perhaps Samsung Mobile Malaysia could also run its own promos for future Hallyu Pop concerts.
Were the tickets fairly priced for the selection? In all fairness the line-up was impressive but the high ticket prices likely discouraged fans from buying them early. Still the turnout was fairly good and from the audience’s warm reception, at the very least Hallyu Pop Fest delivered where it mattered most ― an experience to remember, for all the right reasons.