On January 24, Eric Nam was welcomed with open arms and a sold out show as he returned to the Van Buren for his Phoenix stop on his There and Back Again tour. This was his first tour post-pandemic and followed the release of his new EP There And Back Again. The set list consisted of new and old songs, creating a perfect mix of high-energy and chill, mellow feels. After his last tour was canceled mid-way due to COVID, Phoenix was Eric’s first stop on the 21-city American leg of his world tour and he was sure to bring energy and excitement to every performance. There And Back Again in Phoenix was not only exciting for Eric, but for the fans as well, as they are finally able to experience his electric stage presence once again.
Lyn Lapid, a 19-year old pop singer-songwriter/producer hailing from Baltimore who launched her musical career after going viral on TikTok for her clapback song “Producer Man,” opened the show and captivated the audience with her soulful sound and charming personality. Lyn gave off a fresh new R&B vibe with her tracks “In My Mind,” “Itsy Bitsy,” and “Producer Man.” She also performed her upcoming song “I Guess That Was Goodbye,” featuring a brand-new drum section that was added just for this tour. This set made Lyn’s beautiful voice the perfect segue into Eric’s performance.
“Eric makes relatable music. He goes into issues with relationships and mental health and a lot of people don’t talk about that in music.”– Serein Karatti
The excitement rang true for fans Vanessa Jara and Serein Karatti who camped out at 4AM to see Eric up close and personal. Vanessa said, “We found out about Eric on the Korean show After School Club. We started getting into his music from there.” Serein added, “Eric makes relatable music. He goes into issues with relationships and mental health and a lot of people don’t talk about that in music.” Houston-native Mackenzie Rutledge was also eagerly anticipating this day since she first stumbled upon Eric’s music in high school. “I am most looking forward to hearing his music in person. This is my first time seeing him in person!”
Suddenly, stage lights started to flow in a sporadic pattern, creating a feeling of excitement when Eric appeared with his backup dancers to begin performing “Any Other Way.” The songs “Don’t Call Me,” “What If” and “Lost On Me” followed. Eric continued to wow fans with his choreographed moves while keeping the energy high. After getting the crowd’s blood pumping, an out-of-breath Eric made space to greet his fans. “This set is killing me slowly, I mean quickly, I don’t know what is happening,” he said. As people in the crowd were feeling the excitement, Eric was taking the time to get to know his fans a little better. Upon talking to the fans on the barricade, Eric learned that one fan missed her soccer game to be at his show that night. “I would read the signs, but they’re inappropriate,” Eric stated. “I’m overwhelmed right now.”
A large handful of fans were there as a birthday gift for their friend and one fan even told Eric they were there to celebrate the fact that they are pregnant. Eric went on to sing “Happy Birthday” to the audience. After singing, Eric then told everyone to “Let all your freak energy out!” as he went into his next song, “Paradise.”
Shortly after, all but one member of the band left the stage and the set quickly mellowed as Eric sang two stripped-down versions of his songs “Have We Met Before” and “One Way Lover.” Eric delivered a smooth, R&B rendition of each song as fans held up their phones as if they were lighters to set the mood.
The party then ignited with his performance of “Wildfire.” Kayleigh Jacobsen and Branden Jacobsen, siblings from the Buckeye area, found that “Wildfire” was a favorite song for them both. “I recommended ‘Wildfire’ to Branden when I was introducing Eric’s music to him. The beat drops, high notes, and vocals are just amazing,” said Kayleigh. Branden agreed and added, “It’s an amazing song and it got me into his whole vibe.” ”Wildfire” was the highlight of the night as Eric went all-in for the high notes. This performance was more than enough to bring the audience back to another energetic section of his setlist. “You’re Sexy I’m Sexy” and “Honestly” continued to bring the energy up and led into a small break in the set where the Nam crew took a crowd photo with Eric and his fans.
Before heading into his final song, Eric took a moment and told his fans that he was thankful for their love and support as he is a newly independent artist. Eric’s song “Congratulations” then began and got everyone on their feet. “Congratulations” was a fan favorite song among fan Charlie Kim, who suggested that if listeners didn’t know Eric’s music they should start by listening to the song, “It gets you from a very hard part in your breakup where you go from hating the other person to letting them go. It is a great moving on song!”
Eric and his band then went backstage while his fans chanted his name, hoping for an encore. Little did Eric know, some fans had a plan in the works. “A couple of girls showed up after us with some foam and cardboard hearts,” Serein shared. “We incorporated hashtags so people can find the photos and connect. The hearts have lyrics from his songs as well!” A sea of support was ready to be seen during the final set to show Eric some love from his Phoenix fans.
The encore song, “Love Die Young” came on and all of the fans near the front of the audience held up the signs made for Eric. The fans were holding signs up high, full of adoration for their favorite artist and feeling lucky to have been part of such an amazing night. Eric then finished his set with his song “I Don’t Know You Anymore” and got everyone dancing as a party erupted in the Van Buren audience.
At the end of the night, Eric Nam fans left feeling happy to see their favorite artist once more and to have created great memories of the show. Most attendees left with new friends and an even stronger love for Eric and his music. Whether a long-time Eric Nam supporter or a newfound fan, the There And Back Again show was the experience we all needed after a long year. Phoenix looks forward to Eric’s return and his fans will continue to support him as he continues to release new material in the future.