Review: Show & Prove Toronto

My apologies for how late this article is 🙁 I attended the concert that sparked it on December 18th and really meant to have it out that week. Unfortunately, I was moving to a new apartment on the 22nd and then leaving for vacation… and I overestimated how much I could get done beforehand. However, the delay did allow me to collect more information on the performers so it’s actually a more complete article than it would have been. Enjoy!

Review: Show & Prove Concert

I’ve written about my love of K-pop before and frequently gush like a teenybopper about Big Bang (빅뱅) – 내가 좋아요! 내가 많이 좋아요! But I do listen to a wide variety of music, I really do! However, I did fall deeply in love with the many forms of Korean music during my three years in Korea and I still listen to it, purchase it and subject my office-mate to K-pop all the time. While I was still in Korea, I learned that some of the musicians I liked were actually Korean-Canadians (Alex or Tablo for example) or Korean-Americans (Drunken Tiger, Brian Joo, Teddy). So when I covered Kollaboration Toronto last March, I was on the lookout for more Korean-Canadian musicians to listen too – and of course found some cool artists like Krnfx and JReyez. I love music and believe that one can never have enough!! And I’ve been adding to my list at every Korean event I cover in Toronto. Turns out we have a lot of good talent here!!

Now, I will admit that I have a special fondness for music I can dance to as dancing is a passion for me so I tend to like hip hop/R&B/rap artists more than straight rock groups. I also like alternative, punk, and jazz music so I go to every concert or performance with an open mind because I never know when I will find someone new to listen to. When I found out about the Show & Prove Concert on Facebook, I wanted to cover it for a variety of reasons. First, it would make for a great article. But the main reason was I’d briefly heard/seen two of the groups beforehand at Super Wave Korea 2011 and I know DJ Jaybe (he’s a member of Say Kimchi, the Korean-English language exchange group I run). I knew Jaybe was a great DJ – he deejayed our Christmas party the night before along with another DJ, DJ Elit – but I wanted to hear more of Thoroughbred State and Alvo, especially in a better venue like Lee’s Palace.

And the Show & Prove concert did not disappoint. In fact, it rocked!

Show & Prove was a concert showcasing five acts: two rock bands – Alvo and PH2, one female jazz singer – Stacey Sang, one male hip hop artist – Wizil – with DJ Jaybe, and one hip hop group – Thoroughbred State. There were plenty of performances and some of the different acts performed together which was cool. All in all, it was a night that would appeal to most musical tastes.

Don’t worry; I have lots more details for you. Here’s my rundown of the night and the five acts – all of whom, I recommend you check out.

DJ Jaybe and DJ Wilhaus

Being me, I arrived right on time at 8:00pm and while Lee’s Palace wasn’t quite open to the general public yet (they started letting people in less than 5 minutes later), I was admitted once I identified myself as “press” covering the show. I also realized I’d never been to a show at Lee’s Palace before but it had a great vibe for a concert venue and the music that Jaybe was spinning when I arrived sounded great. While the venue never got full – I’d love to help promote their next show – those that were coming all seemed to arrive over the next 30 minutes. And the audience brought their energy and enthusiasm – especially for Thoroughbred State and Alvo. I was definitely in the minority as I am pretty sure I was the only white girl there, although there was at least one white guy (other than the staff of course), but I expected that. Another DJ (DJ Wilhaus I think) joined Jaybe for part of the set and they spun some great tunes – I wanted to dance 🙂

Thoroughbred State

First up was Thoroughbred State. I loved them, great sound and fabulous energy. All three – Sean Gillz, J.A.S and Hwangma K – have distinctive voices and styles. They also had great chemistry with the crowd, it was fun seeing people up on the dance floor doing that uniquely Korean hand bop (it made me think of my first time at the World DJ Fest in Seoul). They, of course, rapped in Korean but since at least half of the music I listen to is Korean that was cool 🙂 They did four songs in the initial set, one of which I absolutely loved. I remember thinking, “I wish they did more songs” but don’t worry… they did another set later in the evening. If you get a chance, go see them and buy their EP. I know I want to!! I loved all the songs in this set but my favwas the solo song by J.A.S. (I think he was the one in the black hoodie). 

Thoroughbred State – loved this song
PH2

The second set was PH2, a band with four guys and a girl. Their first song was a short version of Tae Yang’s “I need a girl” (which I’m actually listening to as I write). They played seven songs, all of which were slightly different music genres – from jazzy rock to a ballad to “Santa Baby” (with another girl who joined them for two songs, sorry I missed her name) to a more alt-rock song. They sang in both Korean and English and I quite liked them. There wasn’t the same on-stage energy and the lead singer needs to stop fidgeting with his shirt while on stage, but great sound. If you get a chance, check them out.

Wizil and DJ Jaybe

Next up was Wizil with DJ Jaybe. He looked like the youngest of all the performers and according to the MC, he had his first concert a few weeks before this one. But you would never know as he looked super comfortable on stage, had a good stage presence, got the crowd involved and had fantastic energy. His set was fun to watch! I absolutely loved his second song. But the show stopper for me was when he sang GD and TOP’s “Oh Yeah” (with the girl who sang a couple of songs with PH2). They rocked it! And I generally don’t like covers of my favourite artist’s/group’s songs but this one was nailed! I would definitely recommend checking out any future performances by Wizil and his EP once it’s released in 2012.

Wizil and PH2

PH2 and Wizil performed together next and I was wowed again. Totally loved Wizil’s singing voice which is completely different from his rapping. And on a completely different note, English lyrics in the midst of a Korean song always seem to jump out at me. The second song of this set was no different. The only English lyrics, “you bitch, you f#cking bitch” kind of made me laugh. Would love to hear the song again so I can understand more of it!

Stacey Sang

The next set was by Stacey Sang. PH2 played behind her as her band. Her sound was a nice bluesy, jazzy rock. But wow, what a powerful voice. She also had a good stage presence. Her second song was David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and it was an interesting cover as she put her own spin on it. Unfortunately, she only sang two songs. Not really enough to form an opinion but I would like to hear more as I liked her voice.

Alvo

Alvo played the next set and it might have been their last concert as the lead singer is going to Korea. Which is too bad as he was a great showman and entertainer. The crowd definitely seemed to know them but it was interesting to see that there were Alvo fans and Thoroughbred State fans, and not many that seemed to be fans of both. Alvo’s musical style was rock/pop and I liked them better this time but the acoustics weren’t the best at Super Wave Korea 2011. While I’m not a big Coldplay fan, they did a good job at the cover of one of their songs – it suited the singer’s voice. The set (six songs) was a mix of originals and covers but my favourite part was the keyboard solos, he was good! Their last song was a cover of Big Bang and their only song in Korean (the rest were in English) – not impressed as it was way more rock influenced than the original. Plus, it’s Big Bang – you have to nail a cover of any of their songs for me to like it.

Hwangma K

Hwangma K came on next to do two solo songs and he had great energy and presence onstage, as well as a great voice. The other two members of Thoroughbred State joined him as well as Stacey for one song – which rocked. I love, love, love the part-English song they sung, such amazing energy. I totally wanted to dance (and would have if I wasn’t there to cover it). And the crowd definitely agreed with me as I haven’t seen that much arm waving since I left Korea.

To finish it off, Thoroughbred State and Alvo played together. To quote my notes from the night exactly, “totally digging all their voices, different but each rock”! All in all, a great concert! I’d definitely go see them all again but Thoroughbred State and Wizil were unquestionably my favourites. I need to find out how to get their EPs (once available)!!

P.S. If you want to learn more about the artists and groups above, check out my companion piece: Show & Prove Concert Performers.

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 on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival. 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.

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