Guest Review – Hallyu M.I.C. Concert

*This review is by guest blogger and fellow Say Kimchi member Carmen! She’s a Canadian of Chinese heritage with an interest in the Korean culture and language. Carmen has had this interest ever since she stumbled across the drama Princess Hours (otherwise known as Goong/궁) and the TVXQ’s MV for Whatever They Say (Acapella Version) around the same time in 2006. Nowadays she watches not-so-popular dramas (Return of Iljimae, SBS’s Life is Beautiful, anyone?) and listens to Korean indie (Rocket Diary, Spicy Soda) with a dash of not-always-current Kpop.*

Carmen’s Review 

On September 29th I attended Hallyu M.I.C.’s K-pop Fundraising Concert, my third local Korean concert. The previous concerts did not quite have non-Koreans in mind as part of their target audience, so I enjoyed the music but overall impressions were not great. Seeing as this event’s purpose was to spread Korean pop culture, I had better expectations heading in.

In terms of tickets, I was able to easily place one under reservation. They didn’t have physical tickets to pick up at the event though, which is a pity since I really wanted a keepsake and I deliberately arrived early to pick one up. So since I didn’t have a ticket, I was allowed to skip the ticket check line when doors opened at 7:30, but it’s not fair to actual ticket holders, especially since seating was first come, first serve.

The actual concert experience was great! There were some hiccups here and there, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was also pretty awesome to sit beside the most enthusiastic audience member there! Clapping, cheering, chanting, you name it and this Korean male did it with aplomb.

The performances themselves were mostly a combination of fairly recent pop/hip-hop and ballads covered in dance and song. The MCs stated that the group had rehearsed extremely hard for this concert and it really showed. The dances were strong and songs were well sung. Everything was well received by the audience.

There were 10 dance covers:

I personally preferred the male group covers more due to dance style biases, but everyone gave excellent performances! I unfortunately can’t remember the ballad titles except for Kim Bum Soo’s Please.

Other performances for the night included:

  • A cover of G-Dragon & T.O.P’s HIGH HIGH as the opening song of the night
  • A rock band that performed Maroon 5’s This Love with some Korean flavour and a rock version of Girls’ Generation’s Run Devil Run
  • Albert, a magician that started with hilariously fake magic tricks such as his “disappearing balloon” (popped by his needle wand) but then got into some fantastic card tricks,
  • A cover of Epik High’s Love Love Love; I got the impression that one of the rappers was not Korean (I may be mistaken) so he impressed me even when he forgot some of his lyrics,
  • Jennifer Oh, complete with her own fans and fan signs in the audience as she performed acoustic versions of Wonder Girls’ Nobody and 2NE1’s Lonely
  • Couple Making 101, where a female audience member was selected by loudest friends and brought on stage to be wooed by two of the performers, and
  • A cover of Dok2’s Doin’ Good as the audience-rousing closing song.

One thing that I particularly liked about this concert was that Korean lyrics and English translations were provided via overhead projection just above the stage. The timings gave me the impression that someone was behind the scenes controlling them, so sometimes the timings were off. It was nevertheless an excellent addition given the target audience. I would highly recommend all following concerts to have this, although it would also be better to include artist names for next time for those who don’t quite follow the current music scene closely.

One quibble of the night was that microphones were not the greatest, as the MCs had to speak into the microphones in a certain way for it to catch their full voice. Even then they sometimes got drowned out by audience feedback and laughter. The vocals of the rock section also got overpowered by the instruments. If the venue was not as small as it was, I would not have heard as much as I did. The George Ignatieff Theatre itself was a quaint venue, with more of a coffeehouse feel than a concert feel but lighting did a good job with providing the right atmosphere.

All in all, a wholly worthwhile night for a worthwhile cause, with proceeds going to Sick Kid’s Hospital. Would I go to another one? Yes, I definitely would and you should too!

Carmen’s Overall Rating: 4/5 stars 

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday – this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it’s taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I’m the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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