#EPIKHIGHLA [20150529]

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And it still is. Normally when I see a band in concert or meet a celebrity, I tend to stay away from their music and films for about a week after the event. It's too fresh and my feelz are still too strong. But with Epik High, nope. I was listening to their Pieces, Part One album on my way home and all their other stuff days after. Sure, it took me a while to get to this blog post but I've been listening to them (and BIGBANG's new songs, duh) nonstop since last Friday's concert.

You all know me as as K-pop fan. Scratch that, a YG fan. So it makes sense that I like Epik High, right? Ehhhh... well... I've liked them even before they signed with YG. Back in the Woollim Entertainment days, remember those? That's the closest that I'll ever get to SM Entertainment. I stumbled upon Swan Songs, the particular track was Fly. Then Elements. I couldn't understand a smidge of Korean back then but I remembered Epik High. I already know that Ride was going to be my favorite song from them. It was not until Remapping the Human Soul and the magical song called Fan... and my whole musical perspective changed.

If I were to be 100% honest (and yes, I'm not a saint lol), I put Epik High about a hair's width higher on my list than the whole of YG Entertainment. When they joined the agency, my life became so much easier. XD Fangirling all in one go. Plus all the possible interactions. You already know about the BIGBANG/EH special stage from years ago performing my favorite song ever, right? Oh so ominous. Now, Tablo had written so many songs for other YG artists and the most important thing is that they have a home that supports their ideas and an avenue where they could share their music.

Epik High is one of the few artists - not just in Hallyu - that I could really tell are super passionate with what they are doing. They always are creating, sharing, collaborating. And yet, they are super humble. It warms my heart reading Tablo's posts on how thankful he is throughout this North American tour so far. Big Bang and 2NE1 were able to tour the world with a huge machine behind them but with this Epik High tour, it feels more organic and personal. I'm very sure they also have YG monies supporting them but fans in North America wanted to see them and without much hype and fanfare, they made it happen. (EPIK shoutout to SIVA Group. You guys are rockstars!) Their dreams are coming true. OUR dreams are coming true as well.

Major thanks to my brother for scoring those Meet and Greet tickets for me. Not only did I meet Epik High, I also met a bunch of awesome people in line. I go to these things alone and I always say that half of the fun with meeting like minded people along the way. It's all part of the experience!

They had us line up to go in. The first go around was the autograph session. Goodness me, Mithra Jin was so awkwardly adorable. And he signs in Hangul. You wouldn't notice it if you don't read Hangul but I was so fascinated by it. Then came Tablo. I mean, I was just... speechless. Almost. I was able to thank him and tell him that he's a huge inspiration to me.
Cate: Thank you for considering LA on this tour.
Tablo: Aw, thank you for having us. What is your name?
Cate: Cate, with a C.
Tablo: Like Cate Blanchett?
Cate: Yes!
Yes, Tablo personalizes each item. Aaaaand... Tablo is the second person so comment about my name being spelled like Galadriel's. The first one was Jonathan Groff. I was so proud of myself for going through that conversation without jumping or tears... all the while holding eye contact with Tablo. He was wearing sunglasses but they were down his pretty nose so I could clearly see his eyes. And you know, hearing that voice that I only listened to through speakers being so close to me in person... if you're a fan, you will understand the thrill. I always struggled with eye contact but this time, it was so worth the anxiety. DJ Tukutz is a gem. I didn't have a long (read: at least 3 seconds) moment with him but he basically stole that show with that dorky self.

Attendees were encouraged to bring gifts. I made gifts for the kids, Lee Haru and Kim Yunu. And a pack of playing cards for Mithra and the dads lol. The only craft that I can confidently do is crocheting so I made them scarves. I don't care if it's approaching summer but South Korea has 4 seasons, right? So unlike Los Angeles, they experience legit winters. They're not much but I do hope they like them. :)

We lined up again for the photo opportunity. The organizers said that we can shake their hands but no hugs or other physical contact. That's fine by me. I don't shake hands much anyway. When our turn came, I went straight in front of Tablo. He was in the middle and I'm short enough that I have to be in the middle. So I went, said hi to the guys, and faced forward to find the camera. Next thing, I felt something settle on my head. I froze and was distracted so I did think kind of awkward wink face. IDEK. After that, we lined up again to enter the concert floor. I was still thinking about that so I asked the people who came in after me, "Did Tablo put his chin on my head?" Because that was the only explanation. Turns out I was right! And they said that it was a "cute moment". Dude. I cannot wait to see that picture. I don't care if I made an ugly face, I want to see it NOW. That's my physical contact right there! XD

I did have an okay spot on the floor. I'm a (very) short girl and I was fortunate to be close to the stage. I wasn't barricade but I sacrificed that to be slightly closer to the middle. I'm not a huge fan of light sticks because I like taking pictures and footage of the show so I stuck one end in my bag and forgot about it lol. I mean, I'm THAT close... I'm bound to get great pictures, right? The compromise with getting VIP tickets is that your videos will not sound great. I mean, the speakers were right in my face and by the time the opening set was done, my ears were ringing. Same story with my BIGBANG VIP concert experience. I took THE BEST Daesung photo ever but my videos? You could barely make out that it's Fantastic Baby, if not for the dance. I had better luck at this concert though. I had my point-and-shoot, my Note 4, and my iPod Touch (for videos). My phone took better pictures than my camera, in my opinion. My trusty Lumix has seen many famous faces already. I still love it but I'm thinking its time is coming up. I've sung the praises for the Note4's camera time and again and this is no exception.

From the moment they announced a Los Angeles leg of this tour, I was 1000% sure that Tablo will ask Dumbfoundead on board. And the venue is at The Wiltern... the heart of Koreatown! With the confirmation that DFD will be having a guest set came the hope that Danny Im of 1TYM will make an appearance as well. He hosts Danny From LA with DFD. I met both of them by chance at last year's Comikaze Expo and almost ended up in their Comikaze episode! And I was not disappointed.

Ben Baller was there also. If only Lydia Paek was there too. The boys threw out some shirts and I mean, look at that insanity from Ben and Danny!

DFD did a SOLID set. He was so cute giving a shout out to his mom in the audience in Korean. K-Town represent! Here's a short clip of my favorite DFD song, Are We There Yet. I have a longer version but I've been lazy. (Will revise once I put it up.) A part of me wished that they let him compose his own verse for Born Hater and then join Epik High for the encore. That would've been priceless.

Later, I found out that Randy Jackson and Macy Gray were also in attendance. They saw the incredible show that we High Skoolers witness and I couldn't be more proud. Tears almost in my eyes proud. I mean, it could be just connections bringing in these celebrities just to watch the show and nothing else but I just feel so incredibly proud that Epik High was able to show them what they can do. Macy Gray's I Try was my jaaaaaam. And Randy Jackson... there was a time in my life where I did love American Idol. I can only imagine how Tablo, Mithra, and Tukutz felt seeing them there.

The stage couldn't have been simpler. It was a black background with the EPIK HIGH logo and the DJ booth. That's it. And that's all they needed. It was high energy, funny, intense, ADORABLE, heartfelt, and just plain EPIK. With a K. They did not only play their YG songs but a lot of their older ones as well. I pretty much died when they did High Technology. But not as much when they did Fan. I said before that if they perform that song, that pays for my ticket. My level of love for that song is higher than my love for Fantastic Baby. That choreography kills me every time.

They did almost all my YG favorites except Spoiler. I get it. It was too slow and too sad for a show like this. But they did Happen Ending and Tablo did a snippet of Airbag leading up to Eyes, Nose, Lips. He effectively turned The Wiltern into a karaoke room for that song.

It was a pretty straight up show. They go on stage, do what they do best, make jokes, have fun. No special effects, just lights and sounds. And it was fcking amazing.

I've been to a lot of concerts. And every time I would be exhausted because of the waiting and jumping and standing and screaming; overwhelmed with all the strobe lights, ear-splitting sounds, and production. But here, yeah I was tired physically (hungry, mostly lmao) but I felt more fulfilled after this Epik High concert than from any other concert that I've ever been to. It felt so personal, intimate. Special.

Thank you, Epik High. For this concert. For your music. For sharing your music. For being such dorks. For the love. For the inspiration. For this chance. For everything.

I cannot wait to see what's next!

DFD (@dumbfoundead) and DJ Zo (@zomanno)
Mike B. (@whos_mikeB)