Over the past weekend, Korean hip-hop label AOMG hosted their first ever online concert, Above Ordinary 2021, through the platform MyMusicTaste. AOMG, founded in 2013 by rapper Jay Park, takes on an entirely new meaning of what it means to be a record label. Serving to shape and promote hip-hop and R&B artists, the entertainment company proves itself to have a monumental role not only in the hip-hop industry, but all avenues of music and entertainment by reinventing and diversifying the relationship artists and fans have with music.
The concert consisted of powerhouse hip-hop and R&B artists Simon Dominic, Loco, Gray, LeeHi, Yugyeom, and Woo. Each artist harnessed their ability to individually and collectively complement each other’s unique vibe and sound, creating a high energy, one-of-a-kind experience. AOMG partnered with LGU+ to unveil the first ever partnership of a mobile provider and hip-hop company to implement the use of AR (augmented reality) in an online concert. Fans enjoyed hyper-realistic performances, with the sense that they were close and personal with the artist in an alternate world. During breaks, fans got the chance to talk to the artists directly through displayed live commentary. Contrary to in-person concerts, the online platform allowed for direct, real time connection from artist to fans making it feel more intimate and personal.
With a smooth introduction, Woo started the show with his gloomy hit track “Black Out.” Presenting the song’s choppy audio introduction where the music cut in and out and a waterfall made of white noise static complimented the artist’s low note to set the mood for the show ahead. Next on the setlist, “RIP” brought a conversational element that provided both a chill and an aggressive tone that embodied Woo’s persona. The background changed from static to a black and blue galaxy pattern as Woo began his track “Used To.” The smooth, slow rap style created a sense of intimacy as viewers bobbed their heads to the beat. Before moving onto the next song, Woo took a moment to display viewers from floor to ceiling on all sides of the venue. He looked awestruck before beginning his next song “칙칙폭폭 (Freestyle).” The performance heightened the intensity and pace, creating a more bellicose environment to segway into “Job.” Addressing Woo’s frustration with posers, he snaps back at those that pretend to be high and mighty despite struggling like everyone else. Following “Job,” the background transitioned into a deep red, relaxing the pace and intensifying fan’s focus for the cool and confident rap, “Chingiz Kahn.” After another short break, he began the last song on his setlist, the jazzy, saxophone heavy rap “호불호 (Taste).”
LeeHi then took the stage as the only female performer of the night. Dressed in a beautiful black floor-length dress, her presence provided a delicate elegance with a dreamy backdrop full of nighttime stars and a floor full of orange fog. Kicking off her performance with the track “홀로,” LeeHi showcased her angelic vocals and control. She made a point during the act to mention, “It’s all hip-hop except for me. I’m going to give you five quiet songs, so please sing along with me.” The background then shifted into falling rose petals creating a romantic atmosphere for her track “Rose.” Gently, she asked fans to sway their arms and phones with the melody. The little interactive details allowed for fans to experience a deeper connection with the artists by creating the illusion of being in the venue. Following “Rose,” the background transitioned to a magical, lit forest like that out of a fairytale to match her track “O.” She sang of finding a real love that replaces all other desires. Taking a short break, she then displayed the viewers’ live commentary and commented on a few of the entries to show her appreciation for her supporters. She then performed her all-English track “For You” and as a special gift for the viewers, LeeHi rounded out her act with her new, never performed track “Only.”
The next act of the night, GOT7’s Yugyeom, took the stage with slicked back hair and a leather jacket to begin his setlist with the smooth, sexy R&B track “Running Through the Night.” Accompanied by backup dancers, the artist delivered a completely new sensual and cool concept the concert had yet to see. He showcased not only his vocals, but his ability to incorporate his signature dancing to create a full bodied performance. As the background changed to display an industrial scene with large, gray concrete blocks, he began “I Want U Around.” While concrete blocks moved behind him, he serenaded the viewers and powerfully danced alone on the empty stage. During the break between tracks, Yugyeom dropped his stoic stage presence when talking to fans to reveal a giggly, sweet personality before kicking it back into gear with the slow ensemble “Falling in Love.” Heating up, literally and figuratively, Yugyeom took off his leather jacket to perform the high energy track “Love the Way.” He along with his backup dancers performed a synchronized dance to emphasize the power and feeling of the song.
For a moment, the server went down causing fans to go into a panic frenzy. Yugyeom’s performance stalled as the live chat room filled with pleas and begging. The technical crew did a good job of fixing the issue before any real chaos occurred.
A complete 180 vibe switch took place as Loco took the stage. With “Too Much” he provided a more rap heavy ensemble with a bright smile on his face and a glittery rainbow background with orange spotlights. After a brief break to thank fans, he comedically held up his hands telling fans to wait while he pulled out fashion glasses, pointed at the crowd, and stated, “Anytime, anytime baby, I can be your Party Band,” creating a perfect segway into “Party Band.” With a colorful psychedelic background and quirky dance moves, Loco oozed positive energy while singing about always being able to make a good time. The light hearted melody of “Oppa” then filled the room. Singing how fame brought on a new found popularity with women, he smiles and shares how he at times still feels like the average school boy with acne that he used to be. Utilizing a mic stand and the background resembling blue rising smoke, Loco then slowed it down with the groovy, more vocal focused track “남아있어 (Still).” Keeping the slower pace, “남아 (Hold Me Tight)” made fans feel as though they were on a night drive with Loco’s smooth, slow rapping and AR effects resembling passing street lights. Loco then yelled at fans to turn it up for his final song “이대로만 (Just Like This)” before cutely laughing to himself while beginning the uplifting melody. The background displayed Loco and friends on a hike enjoying the simple pleasures in life and making the most of their time together. The song provided a sense of being content with where you’re at in life, regardless of where that may be.
Suave rapper, Gray, took the stage next with “꿈이 뭐야 (Dream Chaser).” The rapper performed in front of an intriguing, intricate background, full of hyper realism. The clocks resembled Salvador Dali’s famous painting The Persistence of Memory from their warped shape and relation to the spinning collage of various random objects. “Show Window” had fans grooving behind their screens and snapping with the beat while Gray displayed a cool confidence on stage. The venue turned into a spinning grid for the intimate rap “Close 2 U.” His next song, “Selfish (feat. Woo)” provided a wavy flow as the rapper strolled around the stage in a laid back manner. About halfway through the song, Woo emerged making his way back onto the stage for the collaboration. The two voices complimented each other with Gray’s smooth sound and Woo’s deeper, huskier vocals. Before leaving the stage, Woo and Gray shared a friendly hug leading up to a short break where Gray took time to talk to his fans via live commentary. Following the pause, he picked up the pace with the fun, upbeat track “Make Love” before transitioning into the easy listening, autotune heavy “I Don’t Love You.” Gray rounded out his performance leaving behind the positive energy he brought to the stage with “하기나 해 (Just Do It).”
Deep red lights filled a dark stage as “GooseBumps Intro” created a chilling aura. An assertive, self-assured Simon Dominic appeared in a loud, green bomber jacket covered in conviction to begin “DAx4.” Surrounded by bright, changing neon lights spelling out the show’s partnerships, the rapper boasted while demanding the stage. Next up, he performed his most popular gasconade rap “Simon Dominic.” Keeping up the energy with assistance from fellow AOMG artist Woo, he performed the braggadocio rap “GOTT (feat. Woo).” The two artists bounced their shared tenacity and confidence off each other to create an unavoidable sense of rodomontade. “POSE!” continued the slow, yet forceful hip-hop beat. The rapper demonstrated effortlessly cool poses throughout the chorus, showing fans that he doesn’t have to try to be sublime. “Won and Only” provided a more laid back, chill rap with a wavy chorus allowing fans to sit back and sway to the melody. Riding on the mellow wave, “Stay Cool” served up a calm beat telling fans to relax and “stay cool.” Slowing down the pace even more, a piano intro and cool colored lights filled the room as the rapper jokingly tested his voice for the more melodic, “Lonely Night (Code Kunst Remix).” Just like that, the energy increased with the start of “밤이 뒤면 (feat. Loco).” With Loco returning to the stage, the two rappers rapped back and forth in a conversational manner displaying their chemistry and love to perform with one another. After a short break to speak to fans, the background transformed to large, bright fireworks as Simon Dominic began the easy going track “Party Forever.” He followed by rapping little blips from tracks he featured on such as Jay Park’s “Baddest Nice Guys” and Code Kunst’s “JOKE!” Keeping the high intensity, he pulled out his popular club track, “make her dance.” To close out his performance, the rapper performed a remix version of Jay Park’s hit song “몸매 (MOMMAE)” which had fans dancing behind their screens.
Yugyeom had the chance to return to the stage to perform the rest of his setlist that was previously interrupted by technical difficulties. He performed the rest of “Love The Way” which had been cut off half way earlier in the night as well as “네 잘못이야 (It’s your fault) (feat. Gray)” and “All About You (feat. Loco),” both of which were accompanied by his fellow AOMG artists. Yugyeom reminded us of his impressive duality as both a singer and a dancer throughout his performances.
Loco, Gray, and Yugyeom met each other on the stage engaging in fun conversation and laughing with each other. It demonstrated the bond they had with each other and provided a high energy that fans got to witness and experience right there with them. The positive and playful energy rolled into the performance of Loco’s “Respect (feat. Gray).” The two artists smiled and bounced off each other’s energy as they waved their arms and hopped to the beat. The overall atmosphere of the stage felt like a party. Acting like a bunch of old friends, Woo rushed back on stage to perform his song “시차 (feat. Loco and Gray).” The three messed around as Loco sang the intro in a low monotone voice before busting up laughing and having Gray take over the song. In the best way there lacked a seriousness as though three friends were simply vibing as though without an audience. After a few hours without a female presence, LeeHi finally made her way back to the stage for her feature on Gray’s “Party For The Night (feat. Loco and LeeHi).” The three artists created a smooth, easy listening environment. Closing off the show, all of the AOMG artists took the stage for Simon Dominic’s “니가 알던 내가 아냐 (Who You?) (Feat. Gray, Loco, and Woo).” Full of high intensity vocals, dancing, and smoke machines, the energy radiating from the stage was indescribably powerful. Ending the eventful night, the group decided to take a selfie with their fans. The atmosphere from every artist being on stage at once perfectly summed up the night leaving fans pumped up with the desire to be up on stage with them.
Above Ordinary 2021 set itself apart from all other online events. The AOMG artists proved themselves to be in a league of their own with their ability to not only reach out to fans individually, but also by allowing fans to relate and feel a part of the chemistry and friendly banter that went on between the artists on stage. From delicate vocals from LeeHi, to Yugyeom’s melodical and dance focused tracks, to different avenues and sounds of hip-hop from Loco, Gray, Woo, and Simon Dominic, they showcased their versatility by displaying a wide variety of genres and sounds that compliment one another, but also had the power to stand alone. The use of AR to create living backgrounds created an entirely new watching experience that made fans feel as though they were stepping into another realm. With online performances expected to be the norm for the foreseeable future, the evolving world of online concerts allows artists to stay connected with their fans in a new and exciting way. It will be interesting to see how this creative, innovative step will influence others.