Rock, even the most popish rock, isn’t a particular mainstay of South Korea’s music industry. While a handful of acts have grown to prominence like CNBLUE, FTISLAND and even the last iteration of Wonder Girls, K-pop rarely ventures towards band-oriented music. But Day6, a boy band from the same label as popular acts like Wonder Girls, TWICE, 2PM and GOT7, is trying to make a mark for themselves in the Korean entertainment sphere. And with a sold-out show in New York this week, they proved they have what it takes to connect with an American audience.
Boyish charms and uptempo, often evocative pop-rock attracted around 1,400 Day6’s fans (called My Days) to the Manhattan venue The Town Hall on Tuesday night. Even before the show, the crowd was bristling with anticipation, handing out banners and waving glowing lightsticks to cheer on the band. When the quintet came out on stage and began playing the first bars of “I Wait” — a single they released in January to kick off their year-long EveryDay6 release project– the first-floor audience was on their feet singing along, something they did throughout the entirety of the show.
Performing a variety of EveryDay6 releases, B-sides and more prominent singles throughout the night, it was an intimate show between Day6 and their fans. “Day6 is about us and you,” Cali-raised Jae told the crowd at one point.
Promoted as a fanmeet, the just-under-two-hour show featured an intermission between the performance sets that had the members partake in a question, answer session and play a variety of games that helped the local audience get to know them a bit.
?The bandmembers are a bit older than their contemporaries — Jae is the oldest at 25 and drummer Dowoon is the youngest at 22, whereas labelmates TWICE are between the ages of 18 and 22 — and it showed through the five men’s serious approach towards their music during this meet and greet segment. The members made references to their pre-K-pop collegiate years and their decisions to pursue music professionally, with Jae — known by many K-pop fans for his frank attitude towards the industry on his Twitter account — revealing that he turned to music as a career after being inspired by YouTubers and Kollaboration, a performing arts organization dedicated to raising the presence of Asian Americans in media.
More light-hearted moments softened the tone of the night, with Dowoon humorously telling the crowd that he wanted to be an animal whisperer and bassist Young K talking about how he gained weight and couldn’t fit into his clothing ahead of the show, all of which helped Day6’s New York stop feel more intimate than many stateside K-pop shows. With the members donning button downs over classic rock T-shirts, their attitude, and that of the night’s in general, felt more akin to a high school band concert than the highly stylized sets typical of Korean idol acts.
But as personable and casual as Day6 are, their playing is just as finely tuned as the dance performances of their counterparts, with the members moving between each track of the night with consummately carefree attitudes and polished movements. Meshing sentimental tracks on the set list with more happy-go-lucky tunes — they ended the night with the festive duo of “Dance Dance” and “Freely” — the band proved at the Town Hall that they have what it takes to turn K-pop’s dynamism towards live music. And hopefully there will be plenty more of that to come.