REVIEW: Super M concert brings together diverse K-pop fans

“The Avengers of Kpop” is the self proclaimed title of Korea’s newest K-pop boy group Super M, formed under Korea’s biggest idol company SM Entertainment, currently making their debut tour in the states. Super M was also created under the intention of promoting in America and closing the gap between the Western pop music industry and the K-pop industry. They dropped their debut album October 4th with title track “Jopping” (not the word from Urban Dictionary, but a mix of “jumping” and “popping”) and an EP by the same name that peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart on the same day of its release. They debuted the next day and consecutively started a tour throughout the states with only five so far released songs as a group.

I got to attend their performance at the United Center in Chicago and see what it was all about, my initial thought questioning how five songs could last long enough for an entire concert. Luckily, I was surprised to see that the hour and a half show was actually really enjoyable and had a lot going on.

Apart from their released songs, each member had a solo stage where they performed previously and released music under their solo title and/or unreleased snippets or songs that showcased their individual style and skills. Some members rapped, some danced, some sang, some did a combination of all in their stage, each performance unique in its own way from the last.

But, because of this, not all members were on stage during some of the group songs due to them having to prepare for their own. Nonetheless, the group songs were scattered throughout the setlist to keep the audience hyped up with songs they were familiar with and drew the crowd in by playing unreleased songs.

Photo by Olivia Cluchey.

That would have to be the only downfall to unreleased music being performed: the audience can’t participate with it as much as they would a song they know. They can’t sing along or dance or wait for the beat drop like they would with a song they already know and like. So during solo stages, even though they were full of energy and really good performances and songs, there was something lost because the audience didn’t have much to do but take it in and vibe with the beat they were hearing for the first time. Nonetheless, it’s really not too big of a problem because you can still have a great time just listening to good music and enjoying the atmosphere of concerts because, when it comes down to it, isn’t that the majority of the experience?

But along with that, a separate problem also arose in the solo stages: for each member, there was a chance that part of the audience did not actually know them. They got their title being comprised of seven members from three different SM groups known separately as Exo, NCT and SHINee, some of the biggest names in K-pop, and the most popular groups from SM. Members include Baekhyun and Kai from Exo, Taemin from SHINee, and Lucas, Mark, Ten, and Taeyong from NCT.

Photo by Olivia Cluchey.

Fans (respectively, Exo-ls, Shawols, and NCTzens) were apprehensive at first about the formation of the new group, and for various reasons. They thought that it would put too much strain on the idols that are already balancing multiple sub-groups, solo careers, and modeling jobs along with their original group, and were worried that it would take them out of their usual promotions.

But SM made it clear that they won’t be leaving their other groups and that Super M is more of an “Avengers” type of scenario, bringing together idols from different groups to create music, promote widely, and to furthermore unite fandoms under SM entertainment. It’s something that, if you’re familiar with K-pop stans, can be hard to do with the constant fanwars.

And the divide was apparent with the various light sticks in the audience. In the K-pop world, it’s common practice for groups to have a specially designed light stick that fans take to concerts to support their favorites and even hook up to the sound system to almost participate in the performances by flashing lights all together at certain times. These are a huge thing to K-pop fans, even though they can be pretty expensive. Because not everyone had access to a Super M lightstick at the door, the only place to buy one was at the concert, meaning that a lot of fans brought their lightsticks for the other groups the members are apart of.

Photo by Olivia Cluchey.

The crowd was scattered with different colored and shaped light sticks that, in a way, exemplified the differences of the fans and who they might only specifically like out of Super M. And so, sometimes when a member or group of members performed, the audience lost a little enthusiasm when it was someone they weren’t really familiar with. I wouldn’t say it affected the overall atmosphere of the concert, as long as you tried to keep focus on the stage, but seeing the people around you suddenly stand still and get quiet did cause me to look around awkwardly for anyone else who was also just trying to enjoy the music so I didn’t feel like I stood out.

Nonetheless, I and many others, had a great time and loved the show from beginning to end. It was an enjoyable concert with lots of really good and intense music to get the heart racing and outstanding performances by the boys in all aspects. There also was a little bit of pleasure that came along with hearing the unreleased music — it was exciting to witness things that so many others hadn’t before and got me looking forward to their eventual release and everything else they have yet to show us.

The members mentioned multiple times that the show was pretty short and apologized, saying to look forward to what is in the future for Super M. They also thanked the audience multiple times for attending and giving them a step forward to continue making music under their new group.

There also was a little bit of pleasure that came along with hearing the unreleased music — it was exciting to witness things that so many others hadn’t before and got me looking forward to their eventual release and everything else they have yet to show us.

I honestly can’t say that I know what’s going to be in the future for Super M; I don’t know how often they’ll promote or what the schedules of the members will look like with their other groups and solo careers. I also don’t know how well they will be able to maintain themselves, probably working on so many things at once, as most idols do, without much time to rest. All the fans can do for now is to keep supporting the members, and look forward to whatever they choose to promote as “the Avengers of K-pop,” uniting the world a little more through music. And from what the members continue to showcase as their debut tour comes to an end, there is definitely a lot to look forward to.

Olivia Cluchey is a pop culture critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

Leave a Reply