Since 2004 Busan has been home to the annual Asia Song Festival, a concert where top performers from Asia (and sometimes further beyond) come together to showcase their talent. This year was no exception and on September 24 the set list was full of diverse performances that concert goers have come to expect from the event.
Kpop girl group Mamamoo opened the show with their latest single ‘Yes I Am’ before showing off their vocal prowess which has made the group so popular in Korea on ‘Um Oh Ah Yeh’.
Australian Indonesia singer Shae took the stage afterwards showcasing her charisma through a performance alternating between working the microphone stand and covering the stage to meet fans in all sections of the audience.
Dong Nhi brought her entourage from Vietnam. Taking over the stage with her back up dancers, performing intense choreography including impressive lifts and dressed to kill in knee high boots and a corseted flowing white dress, Dong Nhi made her two song set feel like her own concert.
Multi-platinum singer Zara Larsson was a special guest, representing Sweden. With her worldwide debut album So Good producing 8 hit singles released over two years it can be shocking to realise she is only 19 years old. Larsson performed three hits off her album; ‘Lush Life’, ‘Never Forget You’ and ‘I Would Like’, and joined MC Jackson of GOT7 for an on stage interview. Zara spoke excitedly about enjoying her time in Korea, loving the local food and her plans to go shopping.
Jackson naturally asked Zara about whether she had heard of Kpop to which she enthusiastically replied that she is a fan of EXO (the stadium of primarily ExoL’s roared their approval), BlackPink and BTS. However, when Jackson asked if Zara was a fan of his group GOT7 she admitted to not knowing who they were. Not one to miss out on the opportunity, Jackson happily fixed the slightly awkward situation by presenting Zara with her own copy of their latest album Arrival.
Indonesian band Mocca brought a change in style to the pop so far seen through the night with their jazz infused swing sound. They were followed by The East Light a rookie rock band of talented teenagers aged 14-17 who play their own instruments.
An absolute standout of the night was Filipino singer Morissette Amon who delivered a phenomenal vocal performance that could rival the likes of Ariana Grande. Performing a ballad rendition of Little Mix’s ‘Secret Love Song’, Amon left the audience stunned with her powerhouse belting and incredible range. With a quick costume change that turned her floor length golden gown into a sparkling jumpsuit Morisette then launched into a cover of The Emotion’s ‘Best Of My Love’ featuring a Mariah Carey-esque whistle note register run that she nailed with ease.
Amon was followed by another impressive vocal display, this time from the Singaporean acapella group MICapella. MICapella’s six members relied purely on their voices to sing and beat box to a medley of pop hits including Fifth Harmony’s ‘Work’, Charlie Puth’s ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’, Rihanna’s ‘This Is What You Came For’, DNCE’s ‘Cake By The Ocean’, Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop The Feelin’, Bruno Mars’ ’24 K Magic’ and Justin Bieber’s ‘Too Late To Say Sorry’.
Korean hip hop group Dynamic Duo absolutely brought the house down with their set, living up to their group name. They had the whole crowd up on their feet dancing and yelling, turning the stadium into a nightclub. Getting the audience pumped with cheers of “Uriga Nugu [who are we]?” “Dynamic Duo!” they launched into a remix of Mark Ronson’s hit rapping to ‘Uptown Funk’ along with a medley of their other hits.
Girls’ Generation leader Taeyeon, who has made a name for herself as soloist in recent years, flaunted her emotional voice, singing her lead singles ‘Fine’ and ‘Make Me Love You’ from her critically acclaimed full length album My Voice.
Japanese veteran Nakashima Mika performed three songs before sitting down with MC Leeteuk of Super Junior who sang her a brief serenade.
Without a doubt the biggest draw of the night was the closing act, EXO. Walking in to see a stadium full of their silver light sticks one could be forgiven for thinking you were arriving an EXO concert. Whilst all the other acts had received loud cheers through the evening nothing came close to the absolute thunderous roar that came with the countdown announcing their arrival. The anticipation for the 7 members [Kyungsoo absent due to scheduling conflicts and Lay still dealing with the political football of THAAD] was tangible to the point you could almost cut the tension in the stadium with a knife, and when the opening beat dropped to ‘Ko Ko Bop’ the audience absolutely erupted.
The crowd was almost as impressive as EXO’s sharp and synchronised choreography, cheering the fan chants word for word in perfect harmony. The boys brought their performance from the main stage across the bridge to the front platform to be closer to the audience as they transitioned to ‘Tender Love’, a b side from their 2015 Love Me Right repackage. The fun song allowed them to interact with the crowd with lots of waving and smiling as the members sang and danced across the platform trying to reach as many of their fans as possible.
But all good things must come to an end and Exo returned to the main platform of the stage for one final song, their latest release ‘Power’.
At the end all the artists [sans Mamamoo who had to return to Seoul] joined together on the stage for a final goodbye to the audience, each performer taking a lap around the stage, before standing as one at the end to take a final bow. With such a wide range of nationalities and music genres performing to an enthusiastic crowd, Busan’s Asia Song Festival was a huge success and we can’t wait to see what they bring next year.
Written by Australian writer Keguri who flew to Busan to attend Asia Song Festival.