Photos by Joyce Lee
NCT 127––a 9-member boy band at the crossroads of hip-hop and K-pop––don’t typically get the opportunity to freely wander the streets of their native Korea, given the band’s immediate and immense success there. And though the band already has a die-hard following in the states, they’re still somewhat of a secret here. Because of this, they have been able to run around NYC this week while promoting their latest single, “Superhuman,” on various radio stations and morning shows. The band was spotted freely walking around Time Square, eating tacos in the East Village, and even hosted a two hour meet and greet, where fans waited for hours in the rain to meet the band. Alas, the promotion hit its climax when the group kicked off the first show of their NEO CITY - THE ORIGIN tour at Prudential Center on Tuesday night.
Before Taeyong, Taeil, Johnny, Mark, Haechan, Jaehyun, Yuta, Jungwoo, and Doyoung even hit the stage, their fans (NCTzens) already had their neon green light sticks lit and were excitedly cheering along to pre-show videos on the screen in lieu of an opening act. Around 8pm, the screams grew louder, and as the lights faded black, the members strolled onto the stage one by one with the utmost swagger and confidence. The band wasted no time before leaping into their biggest single to date, “Cherry Bomb,” which repeats “I’m the biggest hit on this stage” in its chorus. The band spent the remaining two hours of the show proving that they are absolutely entitled to make such a bold statement. The song naturally flowed into “Comeback,” another synth-pop gem with a chorus that is as catchy as the choreography is fun.
After several other dance-centric numbers, the members left the stage for a quick outfit change. Upon their return, the members delivered a package of sentimental tracks to their fans. The band sang and rapped “Angel,” an easygoing, Sunday morning type of serenade, followed by a surprise performance of a brand new song called “Jet Lag”. Fans could be seen in the crowd excitedly putting one hand over their mouths, and the other on their phones to record a snippet of the new material. The band quipped that this should be thought of as their “first date with [their] fans;” melting the hearts of the adoring crowd instantly.
Soon after, the members took turns taking the stage, singing, and rapping. Even though some members would physically be missing from the stage during these sub-unit performances, you wouldn’t realize it. Alternating between intense dance breaks and heartwarming vocals that could fill any empty moment, each member had enough charisma and talent to own the stage on their own. After the sub-unit performances and a VCR break, Johnny took the stage with a beautiful piano medley before launching into “Regular,” a hip-hop track that's as captivating as any chart topping song. But the fun didn’t stop there—members rapped, sang, and danced, all while crawling in, up, out, down, and between monkey bars in a cage structure on the stage. After this segment, and a show stopping performance of “Firetruck”, the members said their goodbyes.
With fans expecting and shouting for an encore, the members returned to the stage with a full performance of “Superhuman,” a song that's both futuristic and catchy, with slick choreography to match. After slithering and jumping around all night, the members ended the show on a sentimental note, repeatedly thanking fans for their unconditional support and love. Johnny exclaimed that he and the band were the happiest people on the planet that Tuesday night, and hoped that the fans felt the same way. If nothing else, NCT 127’s flawlessly executed marathon of hard-hitting numbers paired perfectly with beautifully crafted ballads, proving that k-pop is not a craze, it’s a reckoning force.
Photos by Joyce Lee