NCT 127 @ City National Civic in San Jose, CA
Review by Christa Bandoni // Photography by Angela Smith
On May 9th and 10th, the K-Pop group NCT-127 made their Bay Area debut with concerts at San Jose’s City National Civic Center as a part of their Neo City Origin World Tour, an 11 stop tour that spanned North America and was promoted by Subkulture Entertainment. NCT-127 is a subunit of SM Entertainment’s overarching group, NCT which stands for Neo Culture Technology and the 127 is the longitude of Seoul, Korea, where the group is based. The group while typically a ten-piece, were only able to tour with nine members as one of the boys was promoting another subunit under the NCT umbrella in China.
Fans lined up all day to get in the show, acting as if it was general admission when in fact the concert was all seated. The time passed easily in the sun, with plenty of things to do from random official photocards from a booth that advertises a game the company runs, to even getting free fan-made goods such as fanart prints, stickers and slogan banners designed to support members. One fan, Paola, actually made stickers featuring the members’ names for fans to put on the lightsticks. When asked why she made the stickers she said it was because she wanted to ‘make something to help fans remember the show that doesn’t take up a lot of space.’
The concert itself was dazzling. The energy from the fans, affectionately called NCTzens (pronounced N-citizen) by members of the group, was near palpable. Before the show, music videos were played to get the crowd hyped up for the show, but the extra hyping wasn’t necessary as proven by the deafening screams each time a new member showed up on the screen. This wasn’t my first k-pop show, but this was most definitely the one where the screams of fans before the members even stepped on stage was the loudest.
The concert was everything you’d expect in a K-Pop concert and even more. There were high energy dancing, steady vocals and a lot of fan interaction, but as NCT-127 is under SM Entertainment, a company known as one of the top K-Pop companies, their striving for perfection and to put on the best show they can be beyond evident. Every dance move was sharp, and the formations were all evenly spaced. Even when one member’s in-ear monitor was acting up during a song, he was able to stay with the choreography, while rapping and fixing the issue with his equipment.
That wasn’t the only impressive part of the show, though. After one of the costume changes, a metal jungle gym was set up on stage, and two songs were performed while the group climbing around the bars. There were members all over the place; climbing across and sliding down poles, waving in and out of each other to the sensual electronic beat of ‘Wake Up.’ One member was laying on top of the bars completely at the start of the song, only staying balanced by the positioning of his body weight at the start of the song ‘Baby Don’t Like It.’
The group also debuted 3 new songs that are set to be a part of their upcoming mini-album entitled We are Superhuman which releases May 24th (which they wouldn’t let the fans forget). It started with “Jet Lag,” a ballad that Mark, one of the native English speakers after explained to the crowd that it was a song for them to help them feel a certain closeness to the group — regardless of distances or timezones. The second song they debuted was entitled “Highway to Heaven” and gave the fans a chance to see a not-seen-outside-tour look at the music video that would be accompanying the synth track. The third song was the upcoming album’s title track ‘Superhuman,’ which was previewed only weeks prior when the group was on Good Morning America in New York. The full-length version is something you’d expect from a title track, but it had even more to it, and after they performed it you could hear fans exclaiming how ‘Superhuman is that song’ and gushing about how it may be the song that pushes the group to the American mainstream.
From the energy from the fans to the energy from the group themselves, the concert was an experience that will never be duplicated at another show, as there was just a sense of love and support flowing both ways. It was evident at the beginning of the show when the members introduced themselves and told the crowd they were ‘happy to meet them’ as if they were greeting a new friend. Throughout their speeches where the members expressed their love for the fans, you could tell that their words were sincere and from the heart instead of something they were reading off a teleprompter screen or recalling from memory. There’s a new type of love between K-Pop group and their fanbase, and it was best summed up by, Claudia, a fan from Oakland, when she said ‘the love they show for their fans is really amazing. They make sure you feel like you’re family with them’.