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Kim Tae Woo And Gummy Showcase K-Pop's Past And Future With Stunning New York City Performance

By Tara Edwards | February 09, 2016 02:43 PM EST


Almost immediately after arriving at the Colden Auditorium in Queens on Saturday night, I noticed that the demographic for the crowd was different than the usual New York City-area K-pop show.

The audience was older and unmistakably absent of many international fans. It was a Korean event, with myself and two other attendees the only ones around not speaking Korean with ease.

In fact, the MC for the night didn't even bother speaking English while he entertained the early crowd with the Korean version of rock paper scissors. He was likely certain that there were only Korean speakers in the audience.

But the lack of catering to an English-speaking crowd done by other Korean pop acts who have performed in New York is fair when you consider that the headliners are not the trendy techno dance track pop singers that dominate the genre currently.

Instead, Kim Tae Woo and Gummy are K-pop stars of a different sound and a different era.

Kim Tae Woo, who entered the stage wearing a gray suit and sunglasses, drew a large roar from the crowd. He is a man that is used to the attention, as he was a member of one of the original K-pop groups, g.o.d. He has the swagger of a current K-pop idol, despite being in his late 30s and considerably over the hill compared to many of the baby-faced stars dominating the Korean music scene as of late.

He commands attention the whole night, constantly engaging the crowd with games, jokes, and a special fan serenade that gave one lucky woman the chance to sit in his proximity and watch him as he belted an upbeat love song in her direction.

Gummy, who was wearing a chic black dress and stellar high heels, on the other hand, was less interested in pandering - and after all, why should she? Her voice was the special treat of the evening, with power, soul, and a breathy emotional expression that is sure to be the envy of all who wish to follow in her footsteps. In fact, the songs she preformed were mostly not her own, suggesting that she was not there to promote herself or garner attention for her most recent album.

Her performance reminded the crowd of their past and gave them the chance to experience it in a place where Korean language events are relatively few and far between.

Kim Tae Woo and Gummy's contrast as artists were highlighted over the course of the concert, with both artists playing to their strengths. Gummy's soulful voice left a lasting impact, as she spent her hour of solo songs focused on ballads. Meanwhile, Kim Tae Woo was all about the applause, the cheers, and the energy - reminiscent and simultaneously pointed toward what K-pop is about today.

In that way, Kim Tae Woo and Gummy's concert in New York was an experience of the past - ballads and emotional deep-dives that are exemplified in the older generation of Korean people - and an experience of what K-pop has become - entertainment, happiness, and focus on feel-good emotions as a recipe for the historical aches that are unnamable.

Audience members cheered, shed tears, and laughed their way through three hours of music and entertaining engagement with the crowd. While as a non-Korean fan it was difficult to truly grasp the meaning behind an event sponsored by one of the only Korean-language radio programs in the New York area, it was a clear and present example of the power of music in the constantly changing Korean culture.

That is to say, Gummy and Kim Tae Woo, though they work in two seemingly different styles for music, are equally important to the understanding of what was and what will be in the world of K-pop.

Tagged :  Gummy, Kim Tae Woo


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