The reigning prince of Korean R&B Dean brought his crew Club Eskimo to New York’s Terminal 5 to showcase the best of Korean alternative music. On the tour of America he brought MISO, offonoff, 2xxx!, and Saay. They wasted no time getting on stage together to show themselves as a collective. As a warm up 0channel of offonoff and MISO took to the decks to play some US hip-hop as the rest of the artists sauntered around taking in the stage and the crowd. The crowd were getting warmed up too, seemingly still waiting for something to happen as Dean and Colde of offonoff occasionally sang along or wooped to get them going.
That was very much a warm up though as it wasn’t until opener Saay took to the stage by herself did the room really get going. As the newest member of the crew and least experienced performer she had a tough job. In a short space of time, with only three songs she left a distinct impression though. Her brand of electro R&B is nothing special but her enthusiasm to be there was palpable. Seeing a woman up there commanding the stage was clearly surprising and impressive to the largely female audience. Saay’s music was also indicative of everything to come, the percussive details and sporadic wobbling synths are very much the sound of Eskimo Club’s own brand of R&B. Her particular tone was more intense, songs like “Run” and “Black and Blue” have a clear streak of hurt. It’s something her strong voice translated really well.
The duo of offonoff followed by slowing things down a bit. Their slow jams were inflected with trap beats becoming something more sensual but not so comfortable that you can’t dance to it. Their vocalist Colde has a good voice but it was drowned out by the music at times and has no distinct quality to it. It felt very much like what Dean might have sounded like five years ago. Luckily they progressed their music somewhat by the end with “Pink Ocean,” a funky twist on their previous tracks.
Singer and producer MISO was the most unassuming of them all. During the intro stage she refrained from too much hyping, instead focusing on her music. It was the same when she came out. She stood by her laptop with a mic in hand, gently swaying to her first track. By the time of her second track (the standout of the whole night) “Castaway” she turned it around. MISO was the only one of the night to really have her own stamp on the music. “Castaway” was full of surprises, it dropped without warning and it dropped hard. She clearly belongs playing dj sets by herself as her music is something that needs to be known to fully enjoy live. Best of all she crafts songs that tell stories with each one being different. For “Take Me” she went to the front of the stage for the first time as her music as well became more intimate. It’s produced in a fuzzy way as if it’s coming from another room, as if MISO was letting us in on a secret.
MISO stuck around on decks for the man everyone was waiting for. Immediately it was clear that Dean was the most experienced performer. Despite his shortage of fan interaction in between songs, everyone responded perfectly. Opening with a blast of his earliest hits “Put my Hands on You” and “Pour Up,” the night started turning towards its final party. He was so comfortable with his voice and body on stage. Even if he isn’t doing any amazing dancing his body still moved with purpose. Given the amount of features he has on his songs it meant he had to swing his vocals his voice and body on stage. Even if he isn’t doing any amazing dancing his body still moved with purpose. Given the amount of features he has on his songs it meant he had to swing his vocals
He played the entirety of his EP “130 mood : TRBL” hitting each moment with fervent energy. “21” was a stand out thanks to the crowd shouting it back at him. A lot of them were probably around that age giving them extra emphasis for knowing the words and because it’s a banger of course. The closer of “I’m Not Sorry” was similarly hectic as the rest of the crew came back on stage for it. The show didn’t really end with it though as they began another party, spinning some more modern American hip-hop tracks. I thought it was a poor decision at first since everyone had the impression that it was over. As the tracks went on though the crowd got more and more into it, makes sense since these are the songs that young Americans listen to. It meant that for the encore, the crowd was way more into it than they ever could have been since it was just one song.
Dean came back for “I Love It” and everyone loved it. The Eskimo Club showed themselves to be more than adept performers of R&B. Despite a few dull lows, there was always something new on its way shortly after to keep things interesting. MISO’s knife-like synths and Saay’s effervescent energy are certainly the takeaways of the show. Dean’s spot on top of Korean R&B goes clearly unchallenged as well.
Photos by Jean Libert. See Jean’s full photo gallery HERE.