Although quaint, the diverse crowd that gathered at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on the hot, August summer night stood awaiting the performances of three former K-Pop acts, soloists Kevin Woo, James Lee, and rock group, FYKE. Both notable entertainment veterans, Kevin and James joined forces to hit up their hometowns of LA and San Francisco with an intimate two-city tour presented by SubKulture Entertainment. Joining them on the tour was FYKE, an American rock band under Steel Wool Entertainment, which boasts of a star-studded roster of artists including Amber Liu, Anderson .Paak, and Hayley Kiyoko, etc. Each artist conveyed a refreshing and genuine message to their fans.
The California-based band, FYKE, comprised of Enik Lin, Steven Delman, Mikee Fabella, Gerard Christian, and Justin Wright opened the show with the song “Get Myself (feat. Amber Liu).” Much to everyone’s surprise, the f(x) member made an appearance onstage, making her first of many cameos throughout the night. The alternative track conveyed the confusion of trying to understand all sides of the self and throughout the performance FYKE’s lead singer, Enik, and Amber interacted with fans closely at the barricade. Before the next track “Nightmare,” Enik,who had a notable stint in the Royal Pirates, threw two of FYKE’s T-shirts to the fans.
The quintet offered advice that many in attendance could relate to and also worked to bring their fans closer together. One highlight was when Enik asked everyone to turn to the person next to them and give each other a simple high-five. Their song “Fave” explained that you do not have to be perfect to be loved. Before “Til The End,” Enik addressed those who had ever felt that their lives were not worth living and said that they are indeed loved and are capable of overcoming any obstacles. Finally, “The Edge,” and the last song geared towards introverts, “Anti-Social,” concluded FYKE’s short, yet energetic set.
After a 25-minute interlude, 31-year-old James Lee coolly took the stage with his songs “Mad” and “Automatic,” both created by Swedish composer NEKO. Following “Let’s Get Away,” James asked attendees to tell the person next to them that they are perfect, and with that, Amber came on stage once more to sing, “Perfect,” a song and music video that she appears in alongside James. The two not only showed fondness by continuously embracing each other, but also James stated that he would not have a career today without the help of his friend, Amber. When he planned his first EP, “The Light,” he created a Kickstarter, and Amber pasted the link to the crowdfunding campaign into her Instagram bio in order to help fund her friend’s dreams, which embodied the message of the evening’s performance.
The former Royal Pirates bassist James then explained the harrowing story of why he left the band. On June 10, 2015, a debilitating accident severed his left hand and left him unable to play the bass any longer. After a brief stint playing synth for his former band Royal Pirates, he unfortunately had to leave the band due to his worsening condition. Ultimately, he stated that music had become his therapy. James then debuted his unreleased track, “Alright,” that detailed his thoughts and feelings as he went through a difficult time following the accident. James, a Los Angeles native, thanked SubKulture, FYKE, Kevin Woo, and his fans for giving him the opportunity to perform again on the short tour. James finished his portion of the show with the songs EDM-ridden song, “Anxiety,” and “The Light,” which featured FYKE lead singer, Enik.
After a five-minute intermission, screams filled the room for the bubbly, quirky, and goofy Kevin Woo and the two backup dancers that graced the stage with “Freedom.” During “Over You,” a song produced by the British DJ duo Hollaphonic, the 28-year-old peppered sensual body rolls and hip thrusts into his choreography, and unlike the previous two acts, the former U-KISS member delivered heaps of fan service. Kevin thanked his fans for attending, and he explained that he was a part of K-Pop for 12 years before leaving his group in 2017. The former After School Club and KCON host effortlessly interacted with the crowd. After spotting his signature as a tattoo on one fan’s arm, he told them that he is living his best life. His best friend, James Lee, came back on stage to sing their summer single, “Falling,” and Kevin teared up during the touching song. Kevin explained that he and Lee had been friends for ten years because of their complementary personalities, musical talents, and Korean-American identities. He explained how proud he was of his long-time friend, and while shaking, he apologized for becoming emotional in front of fans. His first Korean single, “Beautiful Day” encouraged fans to turn on their phone flashlights to illuminate the room, which is something Kevin said he always wanted to do as he had seen many artists do so in the past. Aegyo movements accompanied Kevin’s ments, and he described the motions as “so K-Pop” of him.
Continuing to chat with and flirt with fans, Kevin asked them to guess a number between 1 and 90, and the winner would be able to join him on stage. The lucky fan, a young lady named Leah, won and was brought on stage and dubbed, unsurprisingly, “Princess Leah.” When asked if she was nervous, she replied that she was not, and he proclaimed that he was actually “shooketh” by the entire night. Kevin serenaded her with his favorite Bazzi track, “Mine,” dancing close to her and kneeling to kiss her hand at the end.
Kevin invited JRE, the longstanding K-Pop Reaction Youtuber, on stage, and the two explained that they first met at KCON NY and were filming for an upcoming video collaboration. Kevin shared that he taught JRE the choreography to his latest single, “Ride Along” and encouraged him to perform it live in front of the audience. Accompanied by Kevin and backup dancers, JRE danced as best as he could but he and Kevin ultimately resorted to twerking instead. The San Francisco native fully performed his last song, “Ride Along,” delivering tight moves until the end of the concert, and unsurprisingly, he returned to the stage for an encore with the another performance of “Freedom.”
FYKE, James Lee, and Kevin Woo returned to the stage to take a group photo with fans followed by an energetic, group hitouch for everyone in attendance. Although these three acts had been in the music industry for quite some time prior to this concert, they each exuded genuine empathy, interaction, encouragement, and, in some sense, perseverance towards each fan in attendance. For simply turning to someone and letting them know that they are worth it, and in fact, perfect, can inspire and keep a fan for quite some time.
Written by: Emily H.
Photographed by: Ericka P.