Day one of London’s MIK (Made In Korea) Festival was a splendid mix of various performances by the likes of artists such as Red Velvet, Suho from EXO, Pentagon, and more that left people wondering what was next. The second day, known as Hip-Hop Day, featured various performers, groups, soloists, and collaboration projects. As the main initiative of the festival promised, the two days aimed to bring K-music to Europe featuring a broad list of top-tier artists dominating the industry. And they did not disappoint.
Changing up the vibe, pH-1 kicked off with a mix of collaboration and solo tracks. Songs like “Cupid,” “Different Summer,” “Nerdy Love,” “Achoo,” and “Oscar” set the mood. In big baggy pants and a loose shirt, he smoothly entered the stage while interacting with fans.
Between moving around the stage during the different songs, pH-1 also talked about his blacked-out social media and his August 9 pre-release single “Mr. Bad.” More songs followed – “Good Day” and “Oscar” – before the artist descended into the crowd to hand out personally signed albums. He pointed out fans with signs and people who matched his energy.
Rapper DOK2 delivered some high-energy songs following a brief DJ interlude. With overflowing confidence, he got the crowd moving during “Beverly 1lls” and “Spooky Asian.” Although the heat was starting to get a bit uncomfortable, the audience still went hard for his tracks, continuously jumping and cheering him on. Ending the set on a bit of a controversial note, DOK2 announced that he thought he was the best rapper on the lineup no matter who was before or after him. This is up to everyone to decide for themselves, but later on, Jessi did call him out and said that there should be a certain level of respect for each artist performing.
Jessi’s time on stage was arguably one of the most entertaining stages during the festival. Starting off by performing “Drip” and “Gucci” she strode across the stage and interacted with fans screaming for her. Her set consisted of iconic hits, such as “What Type of X,” “Cold Blooded,” and “NUNU NANA.” She reached out to fans, asking how they were doing and whether or not they were going to come to her concert. While giving out water to the audience to prevent dehydration, she also announced a London pop-up for her upcoming affordable makeup line. She also shared stories about how “ZOOM” took two days only to write and the fact that she was not going to release “NUNU NANA.” After she realized that her 40-minute set had gone over and become a 70-minute set, she hurried to go down and take selfies with fans, and receive gifts like a bracelet from a fan of hers. With sincere apologies, she left the stage after performing “ZOOM” with a pink cowboy hat.
Industry legends Epik High took the stage after Jessi apologized repeatedly for running overtime. Straight from their Asian tour, Tablo, Mithra, and Tukutz showed everyone just how a show should be done. Compared to previous acts, Epik High were the perfect mix of them all with their extremely energetic tracks fused with more laid-back vibes. “Prequel,” “Rosario,” “Love Love Love,” “High Technology,” and “Don’t Hate Me” were amongst the many songs the trio performed while continuously spraying the crowd with water. Fans later cheekily claimed they were “baptized” by the members. Showing off some iconic moves while exclaiming they were going to take everyone back to OG “real” K-pop, Epik High definitely made themselves one of the most entertaining acts to see that day.
A change in atmosphere followed LeeHi as she walked on stage. In a pair of denim pants and a white shirt, she smiled covered in little crystals around her eyes. With her known soulful voice, she wowed the audience song after song. “Rose,” “Savior,” and “Bye,” were followed by fan favorite “Red Lipstick.” After performing three more songs, varying between more tearjerker ballads and groovy R&B tracks, LeeHi left the stage, but not for long, as she later on performed with fellow labelmates participating in the festival.
AOMG artist Gray arrived in shorts and delivered a wit-filled set full of his own colors as an artist. He showed off his skills with songs like “Change, In My Head” and “TMI” while loosely sliding along the stage, sometimes sitting down in front of fans to cheekily interact with them and soak up their cheers. At one point, as fans responded to his energy, a red bra was thrown on stage. He wittily responded that it would be too small for him. Loco came next with similar vibes still showcasing his unique flow and lyricism. “Party Band,” “OPPA,” “Too Much” and “Don’t” got the audience hyped up already which then multiplied when he asked for Gray and LeeHi to once again join him on stage “Party Of The Night.” Performing a couple more tracks on his own as well as with others, Loco definitely left a lasting impression on festival-goers.
And with that came the time to finally meet day two’s headliner, Jay Park. Saying that he quite literally made the crowd explode would be an understatement. The second he stepped out on stage to start off his performance with “DNA,” fans cheered louder than ever. Judging by the energy the audience radiated the moment Jay Park entered, it was as if fans had not been standing in the park under over 30-degree Celcius weather for at least five hours. He brought songs like “Me Like Yuh,” “GANADARA,” and “Need To Know” before handing over the stage to his special guests, dance crew Holy Bang led by Honey J.
In true “Ain’t No Party Like an AOMG Party” spirit, he called for some of his collaborators who had performed before him, resulting in a performance of “iffy” and “The Purge” with pH-1 followed by “Drive” with Gray. No one needed an introduction to his iconic song “MOMMAE.” Therefore when the beat dropped and he started taking his shirt off, the crowd was more than ready to scream their hearts out. A couple of moves and flying bras later, it was time to close up the festival. With all of his artists on stage with him, Jay Park transformed MIK into a real party before shouting out his crew and then saying his goodbyes.
While leaving the park, the excitement could still be felt emanating from the festival-goers who reminisced about the day’s events. Their excitement reflects the reason why Europe is witnessing a surge of K-pop and K-Hip-Hop events. If the success of initiatives like the MIK Festival is anything to judge by, it looks as though they are here to stay. The demand for more events is higher than ever, and Europe hopes to see even more in the future.
Although this year’s show has ended, MIK has promised to return, possibly somewhere outside of London to hopefully cement themselves as an event that actively provides fans with performances from their favorite acts. The organizers proved to have hit the nail on the head with every aspect of the festival: the lineup, the venue, the layout – it all worked perfectly.