At SuperM's Stunning MSG Show, New York Learns the Meaning of K-Pop 'Supergroup'

Courtesy of SM Entertainment 

SuperM perform during "We Are the Future" Live tour at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 19, 2019.

It’s been nearly a decade since SM Entertainment last held its lablewide SM Town Live event at Madison Square Garden back in 2011, but last night (Nov. 19), the company’s newest cross-company-formed boy band SuperM brought its talents to the famed New York City venue to give the Big Apple its first taste of what it means to be a K-pop supergroup.      

Clocking in at around an hour and 40 minutes, SuperM’s We Are the Future Live felt less like a concert showcasing the group’s music, and more like a promise of their potential. Less than two months since the release of their Billboard 200 chart-topping debut EP on Oct.4., the event was a tantalizing taste of more of what’s to come as they continue on this new path, and a reintroduction of sorts to the seven artists.     

The thousands of fans in attendance had seen each member perform on his own and with his respective primary boy band, whether coming from SHINee, EXO, WayV, or NCT 127; but We Are the Future showed what it means for the world to meet Baekhyun, Taemin, Kai, Taeyong, Ten, Lucas, and Mark of SuperM.   

Throughout the night, as a whole, as smaller units, and as individuals, the septet’s members dominated the MSG stage through a setlist that that showed off what exactly had made fans come out in droves, with banners declaring the event “sold-out” prominently displayed throughout and surrounding the NYC landmark.

As is fitting of a group that emphasizes the performance elements of their music, SuperM's greatest strength is their combined stage presence as dancers and the night was bookended by two of their most dynamic performances, kicking off with the captivating east-meets-west vibes of “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and ending with the explosive “Jopping,” each of which showcase SM’s SMP -- SM Music Performance -- style of songs that are produced by the company to be best experienced as a live event.

Between the pair of songs, the artistry of each member and the act's chemistry was put on display, with solo stages flitting between energetic, magnetizing performances of "Super Car," "2 Fast," “No Manners,” and two new songs, the a capella-infused "Dangerous Woman" and the lively "With You" littered throughout the setlist, with SuperM’s songs serving almost as a frame for the portrait of each artist to stand upon.

First up was Taemin -- he regularly holds his own solo concerts -- who opened the solo portions with dramatic performances of “Danger” (which even incorporated a bit of SHINee’s “Sherlock” as a nod to his primary team) and "Goodbye," setting the crowd afire with his pristine movements. He was followed by the second of SuperM’s three T’s Taeyong, who delivered his rambunctious “GTA.” Performing partially masked, he showed off both his gruff rap flow and his theatrical performance style, including a false cough partway through the song and ending with him being dragged off stage by backup dancers.

Ten arrived next with his ethereal, choreography-focused “Dream in a Dream,” another track infused with traditional Asian instrumentals, and his inspirational “New Heroes,” both of which showed off the Thai artist’s fluid movements and rousing vocals, and obvious were crowd favorites, with MSG roaring with delight over the Thai artist; he and Taeyong would later join together to perform their stand-out "Baby Don't Stop." Lucas’ “Bass Go Boom” then shifted the tone of the night towards playfulness, boisterously performing over as comical images of himself floated behind hm on screen, putting the focus on the rapper’s well-beloved, bright and good-humored personality as much as his artistry. 

As We are The Future geared up to become an event of the past, Baekhyun took to the stage to dominate MSG as he performed his recent releases from his City Lights album, “Betcha” and “UN Village,” showing off his dramatic vocal register as he vacillated between the groovy, upbeat tone of the former and seductive slink of the latter. Mark, one of the two 20-year-olds in the lineup along with Lucas, followed and introduced the world to “Talk About.” As he charismatically rapped and commanded the stage in a fluffy green jacket, it was almost as if a shadow of his potential growth hung over the young star like a warning label reading, “Prepare for the coming domination of Mark Lee.”

The solo sets ended with Kai’s alluring “Confession,” a song he’s performed at EXO concerts over the past few months, tempting the crowd with his partially shirtless moves surrounded by flames, almost as if whispering words of seduction into the ears of thousands of audience members at MSG even while urging them to confess, beguiling them through his skill as a dancer. 

The finale set of “No Manners,” performed sensuously by Taemin, Kai, Taeyong, and Ten, the high energy, unreleased “With You,” and their powerful debut single “Jopping” closed things out, ending the night on a high, with all of MSG jopping along to the septet’s directives to move to the left and the right. 

Throughout it all, fans participated in the event as collaborators of sorts, with handheld light sticks creating a multi-hued light show. Like SuperM that spans SM's roster, fandom divisions fell aside as bluetooth coordination brought together the devices to create a crowd of unified color, regardless of whether it was the official device associated with SuperM, SHINee, EXO, or NCT and WayV. 

We Are the Future Live gave the New York City crowd its first taste of SuperM, and teased more to come, with shouts and promises of “we’ll be back soon” and “see you again” from members as they walked off the stage for the final time. Like an appetizer before the main course, the show whetted the appetites of SuperM’s audience, eager to see more of what the seven men can offer the world, both as a whole and through their individual artistry. If selling out and taking over MSG is possible in less than two months since the release of their first album, it’s worth anticipating what’s next from SuperM. Though NYC may have to wait a bit, others throughout the country will be able to enjoy SuperM again soon: even while MSG was their last concert stop for the moment, they'll be back Stateside early next year with the second leg of their We are the Future Live tour.