Following last year’s inaugural event in London, the MIK Festival returned to Europe on February 18 and 19 for its second installment held at the Accor Arena in Paris, France. The festival started off to a rocky start with a switch up of the lineups, but it ultimately reverted back to their “K-Pop Day” and “Hip-Hop Day” format. A total of 20 acts participated across the two-day event including the headliners Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon and Taeyeon as well as Jay Park and CL. With a roster consisting of familiar faces as well as first-time MIK performers, the festival delivered a memorable experience for all fans.
By the early afternoon of Day 1 (“K-Pop Day”), hundreds of fans were already onsite and organizing mini-events like random dance plays at the nearby park. Many waiting in line could be seen carrying fanmade banners in support of the performing artists. Once everyone made their way inside the arena, DJ DNOPF started off the festival by getting the crowd going to songs like New Jeans’ “Attention,” LE SSERAFIM’s “Antifragile,” and BTS’ “UGH.” Cameras scanned the crowd and displayed everyone’s growing excitement on the jumbotrons which accelerated as time went on and ultimately reached a height when the lights went off to welcome the first performers of the day, Cherry Bullet.
The septet — consisting of members Haeyoon, Yuju, Bora, Chaerin, Jiwon, Remi, and May — returned to charm MIK fans again following their time at last year’s festival. All clad in classy black outfits, the members performed highlights from their discography such as “Q&A,” “Really Really,” and “Aloha Oe” amongst others. The group commanded the audience’s attention with their amazing vocals and high notes while performing their bubbly yet killer choreographies. With charming stages, visuals, and interactions, Cherry Bullet glided through more songs like“Follow Me,” “Broken,” and “Love So Sweet” before bidding the audience goodbye and finishing their set with “Love In Space.”
B.I made the arena explode into ear-piercing screams as soon as he stepped on stage with the addictive melody of “BTBT.” As he wrapped up his opening performance, he shared that this was not only his first performance in Paris but in Europe overall. Surrounded by dancers, he expertly put on a show with “Flame,” “Illusion,” “Lover,” and “Got It Like That.” His overflowing stage presence radiated as he worked his way between the catwalk and main stage “Illa Illa” “Endless Summer,” and “Middle With You.” B.I was amongst the many others who got to experience true French concert excitement when fans started stomping their feet and chanting the “Seven Nation Army” riff, a popular occurrence at sporting events and shows. Feeding off of the energy, a smiley B.I got everyone dancing with “Keep me up” before descending the stage to see some lucky fans up close. “Cosmos” was his closing performance and before he bid goodbye, he hinted that he might be back very soon (something the festival had previously teased on their social media accounts).
CHUNG HA, another returning MIK Festival performer, graced the Parisian crowd with her presence and started her set with “Snapping.” Stylishly strutting down the stage in fur boots, she made the stage light up with iconic hits like “Killing Me,” “Flying on Faith,” “Sparkling,” and “Roller Coaster.” To surprise her fans, CHUNG HA also teased two new songs — “Don’t Believe In Love” and “Love Without You” — from her upcoming project. The two upbeat songs enticed the crowd to jump along with her as she bounced around the catwalk. Her set ended with a touching moment when the singer realized that her fans (called Byulharang) prepared fan support banners as a special belated birthday event for her. CHUNG HA asked for one of the fanmade banners and tearfully explained that she was extra emotional because it was also the first time her mother had been present for one of her performances since her debut. Contrary to her saying she would do terribly because of her tears, CHUNG HA effortlessly hit every note in her closing song, “Gotta Go” and expressed her gratitude once again as she left the stage.
K-Pop’s charismatic co-ed group, KARD, came next. The festival marked J.Seph, Somin, Jiwoo, and BM’s first-ever performance in Paris and thus their first time meeting their French Hidden KARD fanbase. Opening with their latest release, “Ring The Alarm,” the group set the mood for a fun and dynamic set. They executed their dance routines perfectly for hits such as “Oh NaNa,” “Don’t Recall,” and “Good Love.” Well-known for their playful and teasing manners, the other members tried coaxing BM into taking off his shirt which drew immediate screams from the fans. It seemed like the group’s energy was boundless as they performed dynamic stages for “GUNSHOT” and “Bomb Bomb.” After thanking the audience and expressing their wish to come back as soon as possible, they raised the temperature to an unimaginable high for “Dumb Litty.” Water drenched the floor as the members took turns spraying the audience with their water bottles while jumping around throughout the performance. Right as the members struck their final pose, KARD also experienced the Parisian stomps and cheers before they ultimately had to bid farewell to everyone.
Pentagon also made their second MIK Festival appearance in Paris. Despite standing on stage as a quintet, Shinwon, Yuto, Kino, Yeoone, and Wooseok made sure the fans were not disappointed. Opening their set with a burst of energy with “The Game,” the members ran straight down the catwalk and got the crowd going with their lively performance. Following “Feelin’ Like,” Wooseok, Kino, and Yuto made their live debut of their 2021 song, “Cerberus,” and showcased the unique charms of the Pentagon’s youngest members. As Shinwon and Yeoone rejoined them on stage, the group shared how they were inspired by the sights and sounds of Paris. They moved on to perform a medley of “Call My Name,” “Beautiful Goodbye,” and “Sparkling Night,” making sure to leave a lasting impression on the Parisian crowd as they effortlessly switched from high-energy choreography to free-roaming around the stage to get closer to their fans. Arguably one of the highlights of their set was the beloved-by-all iconic track “Shine,” which was immediately met with massive cheers. Following the end of the song, however, it was time to say goodbye. Pentagon reassured fans that they would be back in Europe soon, alluding to their upcoming appearance at the K.FLEX Festival in Frankfurt, Germany in June.
Epik High did not need any introduction for their set. The seasoned group arrived in Paris as the last stop of their European tour and followed the release of their latest album, Strawberry. Starting off their diverse set of both newer and older songs like “On My Way” off of their latest release followed by their 2017 release “NO THANXXX,” the trio quickly amplified the audience’s energy. They jokingly introduced themselves one by one: Tukutz, the” founder of K-Pop,” Mithra the “maknae of K-Pop,” and Tablo, the “leader of K-Pop.” During their introductions, Epik High quickly addressed the fact that they were performing on “K-Pop Day” rather than “Hip-Hop Day.” And yes, while it was mostly due to scheduling conflicts, Tablo clarified that the group is undeniably iconic in terms of K-Pop history and deserved a spot alongside their fellow K-Pop performers. Epik High moved on to perform “Rosario,” “Burj Khalifa,” “Map The Soul,” “One,” and “Love Love Love” before treating the crowd with a huge surprise. B.I joined the trio onstage and the crowd went wild as they performed their 2014 track “Born Hater.” Tukutz showcased his very impressive breakdance moves and energetically jumped around as they closed off their last European performance with “Don’t Hate Me,” “Catch,” “Kill This Love,” and “New Beautiful.”
One of the night’s most anticipated performers, MAMAMOO’s Hwasa, captured everyone’s attention when she and her backup dancers took the stage with “Twit.” The soloist effortlessly captivated the audience with the performances of her loved songs like “I’m a B,” “Bless U,” “Lemon,” and“Don’t.” Hwasa was a master of owning the stage and made sure to deliver a lasting impression on the audience. She honored her fellow MAMAMOO members and fans by performing a medley of the group’s hit songs such as “Décalcomanie,” “Egotistic,” “Starry Night,” “Dingga,” and “Hip.” As she moved between the catwalk and the main stage, she shared her reflections on her experience in Paris, what it was like performing solo, and her wish to return to the city with her members soon. She even confirmed that she was working on another solo album as well. To close out her set, “Intro: Nobody Else” led into the now viral performance of “Maria,” which saw Hwasa with her dancers executing the choreography flawlessly. The crowd cheered louder than ever and Hwasa left the stage after expressing her gratitude multiple times.
BTOB, now complete with all six members, performed in Europe for the first time since their debut in 2012, and their fans, called Melody, made sure the group felt their love. “Only One For Me,” “DREAMER,” “Beautiful Pain,” and “It’s Okay” showed Eunkwang, Minhyuk, Changsub, Hyunsik, Peniel, and Sungjae’sunique charms with their impressive vocals and harmonies. Never afraid to take on a challenge, the sextet introduced themselves in French and instantly received warm cheers from the crowd. BTOB completed hearts, noted some of the signs and projects made for them, and Eunkwang even performed a really quick cover of IVE’s “Love Dive.” Unrivaled vocal performances followed and got everyone in their feels for “Wow,” “Pray (I’ll be your man),” and“The Song” before ultimately finishing off with “Missing You.” They thanked their European fans for their love and support and left the stage in high spirits and with a promise to return as soon as possible.
To heat up the night even more, Hyoyeon entered the stage to begin a stellar DJ set. She opened her set by playing Girls’ Generation’s latest release, “FOREVER 1” and kept the energy high by mixing songs like “Gee,” Sam Smith’s “Unholy,” Omi’s “Cheerleader,” and more. She then switched gears and grabbed her microphone to perform some of her biggest hits alongside her dancers. Intense choreography was to be expected from arguably one of the best dancers in the industry and Hyoyeon made every performance seem easy as she executive every move with ease. European fans finally got to hear iconic tracks such as“DEEP,” “Seconds,” the viral hit “Dessert,” and “Sober.” Although there was no surprise collaboration stage with Taeyeon, the audience was happy to see Hyoyeon thrive on her own as both a DJ and a performer.
The headliner of the night, Taeyeon, closed the night in a very gentle manner. Surrounded by her backup dancers, she opened with the angelic “INVU,” which resonated throughout the arena as fans loudly sang along. She hit every note flawlessly as she glided through “Spark,” “Set Myself On Fire,” and “What Do I Call You.” In her ment Taeyeon expressed her gratitude for those who prepared mini banners for her and brought their Girls’ Generation lightsticks. She admitted that even though she is a veteran performer, she still felt a bit shy to be standing in front of the Parisian audience. She quickly got assurance from the crowd and they showed her great support, stomping hard and surprising her with the familiar “Seven Nation Army” chant. Taeyeon finished her set and the first day of the festival beautifully with “I,” highlighting once again the vocalist’s true power that left the audience wanting more as the legendary songstress left the stage.
The day was filled to the brim with high-level and well-produced performances catered towards K-Pop fans. Showcasing acts representing different eras in the industry and mixing a variety of soloists and groups, MIK Festival’s “K-Pop Day” left fans with memories for a lifetime.