No offense to those deeply submerged in the K-pop community, but no one I’ve talked to knows who Eric Nam is. No one that wasn’t at his concert, that is. Oh, you didn’t hear? Over fall break, while half of campus was with their families, or some nonsense like that, I was at the hottest venue around. On Saturday, October 7, I was in Philadelphia at the Fillmore Concert Hall, screaming my heart out for a man whose existence I’d only learned of less than a week prior. I was watching Eric Nam, the best American K-pop artist you’ve never heard of. But let me start from the beginning.
On Monday, October 2, I realized I had no plans for the fast approaching Fall Break, for which I would be staying on campus. So, in an attempt to not spend the four days in complete isolation, I started to ask around, to see who would be able to hang out. One of the people I thought would be likely to stay local was my friend and coworker at the Writing Center, Ella. I asked her if she was planning on being on campus for break, to which she responded yes. I said I was too, and she immediately followed up with,
“Do you want to go to a concert?!”
Naturally, I accepted the invitation.
I then inquired about some of the more trivial details, such as who the performer was and where and when the concert would be held. Ella said, “You probably don’t know him, but it’s an Eric Nam concert.” She was right. I’d never heard of him, nor had my roommate, my parents, our other coworkers, my high school best friend, or any other person who happened to engage me in, “What are you doing for Fall Break?” small talk. The only person I found who knew of the man was one of my neighbors, who happened to also be attending the concert. But, anyway, I figured it would be a fun night out on the town, so what did it matter who was performing?
If you ever find yourself in the position of attending a concert of someone you don’t know, with only five days until said concert, here are some tips. First, you’ll want to find the setlist. Normally I’m against looking at the setlist beforehand, because I think the element of surprise is part of what makes concerts so fun, but in this situation I made an exception. That way, you actually know the lyrics everyone will be screaming.
Next, you’ll want to listen to the setlist (bet you didn’t see that one coming). You’ll want to listen to it a lot. Some places I recommend for listening are the shower, your bed, your roommate’s bed, the library (with earbuds, of course), while on a walk, in a box, with a fox, with a mouse, in a house, in the middle of class, and during work, just to name a few. Since I wouldn’t be able to become a lifelong K-pop fanatic within a few days, I decided at least knowing the songs would have to do.
The next matter to handle was what to wear. Since Ella advised me anything would be fine, I went with the sexiest piece of clothing I own, a black turtleneck. If you don’t own a black turtleneck, that’s a mistake. But I digress. So, with my outfit laid out, and the setlist as ingrained in my mind as it would ever be, I felt prepared and pretty psyched by the time Saturday came around.
Day of, before the 7:30 show time, we drove to Philly, had a lovely barbecue dinner, walked around the Fishtown neighborhood with our ice cream dessert, and took a buttload of pre-concert selfies (Ella and I were coincidentally both wearing black turtlenecks, so how could we resist?). Then, the hour was upon us. After standing in a line that stretched far beyond what the naked human eye can see, we made it into the Fillmore.
We then stuffed ourselves into the venue, which, for the laymen like us, was standing room only. Considering the only concerts I’d been to previously were for people in their seventies (the Steve Miller Band and the Monkees, for reference), this was a bit of culture shock for me. Most people at this event were my age, wearing everything from trendy halter tops, to feminist cat hats, to full-out goth garb. Everyone was pumped too. I was already pretty excited, but feeling the buzz all around me, I couldn’t help but feel just as jazzed as everyone else. After all, it’s not just everyday that you get to see an international pop star!
Once Eric Nam finally appeared on stage (which took a while, but that’s a story for another time), the excitement just kept flowing. We — the whole crowd — were huddled together, singing, swaying, shrieking, jumping up and down, and making hearts with our fingers, all for the love of this performer. And I must say, he did put on one heck of a show. Between the lights, the dancing, the audience banter, his gorgeous voice, and his catchy tunes, he and his team made for an exceptional concert experience.
By the end of the show at 10:00, though our feet were killing us, we walked into the night giddy as school girls. I am so glad to have had such an exhilarating experience. I now have a fantastic memory of a fun-filled night, one I would not have if I didn’t decide to try something new. Thanks to both Ella and Eric Nam, I have now expanded my musical knowledge, experienced a concert with people born in this century, and gained greater appreciation for the K-pop community as a whole.
And to think, all this because I asked someone their break plans.
Photos courtesy of Carolyn South.
Carolyn South is a Contributing Writer. Her email is email@example.com.