September 18 was a busy Friday at KAIST. The annual KAIST-POSTECH Science War had officially started and the day was filled with exciting matches and events. I was looking forward to this day, but the Science War was not the reason. As much as I wanted to watch all the matches and events, something else caught my attention: the last day of Chungnam National University’s festival. I just could not overlook the amazing lineup of performers they prepared. It was an event my friends and I had been planning on going for weeks earlier.
The show started around 9 p.m., starting with Noel, a group consisting of four men. Known for their melodic R&B style and high-pitched voices, I had high expectations for them. They brought to the audience their most recent hit song and some of their most popular songs. The night’s show started with “Moksori” (“Your Voice”), one of their most recent songs and a song that I personally like; I was very pleased with their live performance. For most musicians, it is common for the live version to fall short of the recording. However, listening live to Noel, I felt no such difference. In fact, I actually preferred their live version. It tended to bring out each member’s unique voice, an element that is harder to differentiate in their recordings. Other songs they performed included “I Miss You”, “Propose”, and “Woman.” I could not stop getting the chills from their amazing voices. Due to the mellowness of their songs, it did get a bit dull, but their sense of humor and improvisation brought the audience’s focus back. In short, it was a nice way to start the evening’s show.
Then began part two: hip-hop, the booming genre of music in Korea. Hip-hop has been acquiring many fans recently, and it was interesting to see that just in this festival, three out of four musicians were of the hip-hop genre. First up was Gray. Although he was least known out of the three, his name was still familiar from his featuring parts in other artist's songs. He performed some of his more known songs, which were fun and got the audience ready for the more exciting songs to come. Although I had not known any of his songs, through this experience I got the desire to check out some of his other tracks.
Next was Loco, a more well-known rapper who also starred in the latest season of Mnet’s TV show, Show Me the Money. I had just gotten to like some of his songs, so I was eager to hear his live rapping. He started with songs that were new to me, but he was saving the best for last. When “You Don’t Know” finally started playing, I started to get excited. However, his live performance was clearly different from the recording in that his rap was more rigorous and loud. I liked Loco for his smooth, conversation-like rapping and nasally voice, but that was not what I was hearing. It may have been for the entire audience to hear his rap better, but I was a bit offset at first. Still, I enjoyed his stage as he finished it off with his title song “Hold Me Tight”.
It was time for the evening’s star and my personal favorite hip-hop artist, Simon Dominic (also known as Simon D). The stage was pitch-black and everyone was silent, waiting for him to appear. Then, “Simon Dominic”, his most recent hit song, started playing, and everyone went crazy. It was an amazing way to enter on stage. With simple lyrics and a tune that gets easily stuck in your head, it was a song that everyone could sing along. He performed another song from his most recent album and introduced himself. The next songs were from previous albums, back when he still belonged to the record label Amoeba Culture (a period that I personally prefer). “Lonely Night” is a quiet song about a break-up, and it was great to see that his live version was as good as the recording. Next, he performed “Stay Cool”, which features Zion.T in the hook, but since he was not present that evening, Simon D had to sing it himself. He changed the hook to a rap-style, which was distracting as I was used to Zion.T’s soft, unique voice. Finally, everyone’s favorite song “Cheerz” came up, and it was the best song of the night. His rapping was fantastic, it was perfect for the festival atmosphere, and the whole crowd went wild. As his song came to an end, he thanked everyone for enjoying his show and began stepping off the stage, but we all knew there was to be an encore. Simon D, Loco, and Gray all came back up to show us a collaboration stage never seen before. The artists jumped onto the stage, the audience jumped right back in as well, and everyone enjoyed the last minutes of the team performance.