January 5, 2016


Why Epik High Is a Perfect Pick as Coachella's First K-Pop Act

Daniel Boczarski/Redferns via Getty Images
Daniel Boczarski/Redferns via Getty Images

Last summer, Epik High embarked on the largest K-pop tour in years, with their North American summer tour that brought the trio everywhere from New York City to Hawaii. Last night, fans were sweetly surprised to see the hip-hop/pop act on the Coachella bill—basically, a first for a K-pop act. The move could potentially help usher in a wave of more Korean talent being recognized by larger festivals—so far, the biggest nod the country's pop scene has been with SXSW's annual K-Pop Night Out. But to get the ball rolling, Epik High and Coachella are a perfect match.

As proven during their 2015 tour, Epik High can do a lot with a little. Their double-header at New York's Best Buy Theater wasn't as flashy as shows from counterparts like BIGBANG or 2NE1, but it was still a hugely entertaining, high-energy set, even with just DJ Tukutz at the booth and Tablo and Mithra spitting to the crowd. Festival stages don't really allow for huge pyrotechnics for acts lower on the bill, as EH will be here, but they'd still be able to more than make do—much more so than girl groups or boy bands who might drown on such large, bare stages. 

Plus, the guys have a great way of interacting with crowds. As any fan can tell you, Stanford-educated Tablo is hilarious onstage and showcases his witty, sometimes-awkward personality throughout the whole set. Even if their Coachella audience members don't understand every Korean word they're delivering, they will get the jokes.

More importantly, a diehard K-pop fan likely isn't going to shell out the $399 general admission tickets to see a half-hour set by one act, which means a majority of Epik High's audience is going to be casual festival-goers and music fans interested in discovering new artists. Epik High has the sound ("sad fun" hip hop, as they describe it) and look (think thick sunglasses and trendy hats) that appeals to this demographic. 

The guys hustled throughout North America on their extensive 2015 trek and proved that this continent was a priority to them. By now joining one of the year's biggest festivals, EH is continuing to make themselves part of the U.S. music conversation. No doubt Epik High could be a gateway for Coachella-goers up to discover more Korean acts who also want to be part of that conversation.

Take it back to when Fuse headed to Korea to meet up with Epik High and find out their plans for their craziest show ever: