It’s been two years since Korean indie-rock icons HYUKOH was last here, but the adorably awkward quartet had no trouble filling up all four levels of the Esplanade Theatre on Monday, which was literally packed to the rafters.
On the back of their latest EP 24: How To Find True Love And Happiness which was released last year, the four-piece has been making the rounds on their first ever world tour. The diverse crowd that turned up was vastly different to your typical K-pop concert, but everyone was instantly captivated by the band when they kicked off the show with ‘Skyworld’. They then launched into the massive hit song ‘Wi Ing Wi Ing’ from their very first album, before going back to their newer tracks.
Their off-beat fashion and don’t-care attitude resounded with the fans, who lost themselves in the music. With a quick greeting from lead vocalist Ohhyuk because “they told to me to say something on stage” which prompted huge laughter from the crowd, the charming singer then shared that he named the latest album “How To Find True Love And Happiness” because he wants to find it – and a part of us hoped that he found it here on this very night. With the release of 24, the band has found their signature sound of guitar-heavy ballads and stuck to it as themes of love, loss and life feature heavily on their latest album. The songs are slightly more upbeat than their previous albums, but are equally raw and emotive.
Hyukoh performed every song off the record and more, and even treated us to the live version of Superorganism’s remix of ‘Gang Gang Schiele’. It only took a gentle prompting from Ohhyuk as he shyly told the audience “You know, you guys can stand up if you want”, before the whole concert hall took to their feet. HYUKOH’s energy seemed to rocket to another level as everyone started dancing together, while the band powered through their songs relentlessly. Ohhyuk then showed off his trilingual chops as he sang in Chinese for an epic rendition of ‘Wan Li’. And what we found particularly amazing was that, no matter the language they sing, it didn’t stop anyone from humming along to the songs – proving that music is truly universal.
Other fan favourites like ‘Hooka’ and ‘Gondry’ were also on the setlist, and everyone brought out their flashlights for Tomboy to create a sparkling sea of yellow lights. The night ended off on a high note with the upbeat ‘Love Ya’, a tribute to all the lovers out there.
Despite the few words and limited interaction with the crowd, HYUKOH lets their music do the talking. Drawing energy from the fans, Ohhyuk even shyly asked the crowd if he could play one more song after the encore, which he promised was “really the last, last song of the night”. Obviously everyone screamed yes, and we were treated to an encore where they showed off their instrumental prowess before finally bidding goodbye.
Photo credits: Dominic Phua for Now/Live