With the surge of Kpop shows washing over the shores of the US, we are seeing much more variety in geographic locations and venue size. As the beneficiary of this consequence, I really can’t complain – even when I’m faced with making tough choices about which favorite groups to miss and what level of tickets and perks I can afford. But this increase in access to both super popular and freshly debuted groups has started to influence not only how I choose which shows to see, but interestingly, how I experience groups when I first start to develop a relationship with them.
Groups like Vanner, 1Team, and CIX aren’t breaking any records or smashing the charts. They’re solid boy groups with somewhat small but dedicated fandoms that love them with all of their hearts. But just a year or two ago, we would never have had to consider the possibility of their coming to the US on tour – at least not until they’d become more established. There was no way their companies would have made the risky investment in an unreliable market. However, as we transition from 2019 to 2020, I’m finding myself having to weigh and balance powerhouses like Monsta X and ATEEZ with lesser-known but no less loved (at least by me) acts like Bewhy and VAV. So now, as I am exposed to new groups and delight in their music, I find myself starting to consider to what level of investment I want to love them or already love them. Do I love them but just enough to listen through my streaming service? Do I love them enough to purchase their albums? Does my love equate to a show within driving distance? Or is our new relationship worth a flight and a high touch?
This approach doesn’t suit me. I don’t like the pressure of assigning a monetary value to my affection. I love hard and thoroughly in almost everything I do and to be forced to undermine that with cash feels icky. So while I can’t complain about the access to all of these shows, I also need to be a bit more thoughtful about how it’s shaping my relationship with the music.
A group that has not yet, to my relief, announced a tour in the US is ENOi – which obviously stands for wE caN dO iT. This seven-member boy group debuted in April of 2019 on Kithewhale Entertainment with the song Bloom. Much like Stray Kids, this group was the product of the leader, Laon, identifying and recruiting trainees and talented guys. He is heavily involved in writing their music and lyrics, and in planning all of their events and schedules. He is, without a doubt, the center of this particular storm.
On January 12, the group released their second EP Red in the Apple with the title track Cheeky. All four songs are decent and interesting enough for me to have listened through it several times and Cheeky is fun and clever. It’s not instant true love, but it’s good…playlist good. The MV is high quality if not high budget (literal Halloween costumes involved) and it’s bright and fun with a confusing storyline and energetic choreography. I worry because the group is on a small label and so much of the responsibility of their success rests on the shoulders of one of the members but I feel strongly that they have the potential to have solid, meaningful mid-level success. For now, I think more people would love them than actually have had the opportunity to hear of them and that makes me sad.
Don’t make me sad, make sure you listen.