For many American pop fans, entry into K-pop came last year when Lady Gaga invited girl group Crayon Pop to open her Artpop Tour after the diva made a very surprise appearance at SXSW 2014's K-Pop Night Out showcase. But for the superfans, Gaga was late to the party.
This became evident at last night's K-Pop Night Out showcase. Now in its third year, the event has grown exponentially in both excitement and notoriety. The gig was scheduled to start at 7:30PM, and by 4 there were dozens of kids (many in costume) lining the outside walls of Elysium club, looping down the following block.
The dedication and fandom was anything but misguided. When DJ/robot/possibly-not-human Hitchhiker took the stage to perform "11" as part of his debut live performance, the crowd exploded into something akin to a Skrillex gig, except inside a video game: Flashes, lasers, smoke machines, screens with Web 2.0 graphics that would make every net artist jealous.
Next were Gaga's beloved Crayon Pop, all decked out in matching latex/almost Power Ranger-esque costumes. Their look has evolved since their smash, "Bar Bar Bar," with the ladies heading in for a more mature direction...meaning they're superheroes now. Their choreography was phenomenal, as well. If these girls know anything, it's how to entertain.
Epik High closed out the night, bringing Korean hip hop to the stage around 1AM. They're one of the biggest acts of their genre, and that became apparent the minute they uttered their first words. They were tight, un-intimidating, and it was a true delight to watch those new and unfamiliar with Korea's popular music almost gasp in the afterglow. It was a change of pace from the usual secret-guest buzz-band cynicism that plagues many SXSW attendees, and an exciting one at that.