On January 5, 2017, K-pop fans eagerly lined up outside of the KOKO venue awaiting entry to see their favorite idol, Zico, up close and personal. Some huddled in a circle and cheerfully sang some of his best songs, while others, who had been in line since the early morning, sat on the ground while discussing their plans to make a mad dash to the front of the stage to secure a good view.
The schedule was as follows:
6 p.m. — VVIP doors open
7:30 p.m. — VIP doors open
8 p.m. — Regular doors open
9:15pm — Opening Artist
9:45 p.m. — Zico + Special Guest DJ
11 p.m. – 1 a.m. — After-party (attended by Zico)
Per the schedule, the doors opened promptly at 6 p.m. for VVIP ticket holders. This early entrance granted the VVIPs a meet and greet with Zico and a chance to grab front-row seats. VIP ticket holders were later allowed entry 30 minutes earlier than expected, leaving regular ticket holders with another full hour of waiting time before general admission would take place. Luckily, it was decided to let them in a little bit earlier due to the amount of people standing in line and weather conditions (aka it was cold as f*ck).
Once inside, fangirls (and boys) ran to what was left of the front of the stage, squeezing in between an already tight-knit human fortress. I realized there was no chance of getting anywhere near the front, so I decided to make my way upstairs to a balcony where I would have a better vantage point for recording.
As fans continued to pour in, DJ Illustrious One (or 111ustrious1) began spinning some tunes, hyping up the crowd and keeping everyone entertained as we waited for the opening acts. He played a superb mix of K-pop, hip-hop and Rich Chigga (who needs his own category), and the crowd loved it. About 30 minutes or so went by, and the place filled. All four floors were packed: it was indeed a sold-out event.
At this time, it was 9 p.m. and 111ustrious1 was still DJing. At exactly 9:11 p.m., the opening act, Danny Seth, made his way to the stage. Danny Seth is a known London rap artist, but he was apparently not known enough. As he began his first song, confusion fell upon the faces in the crowd; I’m not sure if it was due to the song lyrics that no one could quite understand or his rather eccentric dance moves. (Actually, the way he moved reminded me of Ian Curtis — just not as cool.) The crowd participation felt forced, and by the third song, the vibes Danny Seth was dishing out were not being reciprocated. The crowd began live-tweeting Cult of Ya demanding an explanation as to why this opening act was still on stage. One person simply tweeted, “Who’s man is this?” followed by unflattering pictures.
But like a slow, agonizing death, the show went on, and Danny Seth brought out several members of his posse, including someone he claimed to be the next London super star, Lancey Fox. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we were not able to be the judges of that because no one could hear him. At all. Watching him onstage was like watching Kip from Napoleon Dynamite singing to his bride-to-be Lafawnduh: it was low, it was awkward and we just wanted it to stop. Thankfully, Danny Seth’s set was cut down from 30 minutes to somewhere around 15, and he and his posse made their exit.
At 9:30 p.m., DJ 111ustrious1 and his hype man returned to spin more tunes. The latter prompted the crowd to scream for Zico, who we all believed would be making his appearance shortly after. As the crowd continued to cheer, the hype man said, “Ok, I’ll go get him for you,” but…
DJ MILLIC made his way to the stage at 9:33 p.m. to play his set — a set that was not on the schedule, but a dope set nonetheless. By 9:54 p.m., fans had lost their patience and were again live-tweeting Cult of Ya asking why they were still waiting for Zico to show up.
You could see the crowd falling dormant at this point; I panned my eyes from the floor to the balconies above, and nearly every single person looked defeated, as if they had given up on ever actually seeing Zico. Granted, we had not been waiting that long, but it felt like it had been ages. It seemed as if MILLIC noticed this as well, so he grabbed the mic while making his way from behind the turntables as Carnage’s “WDYW” played. He sang the lyrics “Like whatchu want, like what do you want? (What do you want?) Whatchu want? Let a nigga know, let a nigga know, let a nigga know…,” at which point the beat dropped and he began throwing water on the crowd. His move was successful, and the audience livened up. I, on the other hand, still had my head tilted to the side from when he said “Let a nigga know” not one time, not two times but three times. I inhaled — I continued to do my job.
At 10:07 p.m., a little over 15 minutes after he was scheduled to perform, Zico finally came to the stage. He started off his performance with the controversial “Tough Cookie,” which was followed by “Well Done.” He then took a short break to speak to the crowd — in English — telling them “Happy New Year” and revealing that this was his first time in London. Upon asking the crowd if they were ready for him to continue, he received a roar of screams in response and tackled his third song, “Veni Vidi Vici.” Before beginning to perform “Bermuda Triangle,” another song with controversial lyrics, he again took a short moment to address the audience and inform them that Crush and Dean — his “Bermuda Triangle” collaborators — were unable to attend.
Zico went on to perform two more bangers: “Okie Dokie” and the more relaxed “I Am You, You Are Me.” The pace picked back up with “Boys and Girls,” and he ‘ended’ the show with “Eureka.” As he walked off the stage, his adoring audience screamed for more, eliciting his return moments later. Wardrobe changed and ready to go, he performed “Yes or No.” Everyone sang along as they’d been doing his entire performance, and by the second verse, Zico had made his way into the crowd. With his back facing them, he leaned in, removed his baseball cap and allowed eager fangirls to run their fingers through his hair; those who weren’t close enough were visibly jealous. He returned to the stage after finishing the verse and prompted the opening act to join him for the last few moments of the song, effectively ending his thirty-five-minute set.
As is customary after a performance, Zico took a picture with the crowd before disappearing from the stage. The after-party began at 11 p.m. sharp, and fans immediately started wondering when Zico would attend as advertised on the tickets. The opening act made his way back on stage with his posse in tow, dancing and thrashing the whole way. However, his face was not the one that fans wanted to see. I watched as they searched the venue for signs of Zico to no avail. It wasn’t until a little less than an hour before the party was to end that Zico was spotted on the top floor looking over the balcony. Fans immediately made their way upstairs but were halted at the third floor: Only VVIPs were able to access the floor that Zico occupied. That fact didn’t stop them from trying to get up there anyway. Moments later Zico left the building.
The after-party continued until 1 a.m., and with that, the festivities at KOKO in Camden, London were concluded.
Despite Zico coming to the stage later than he was scheduled to, his performance was energetic and engaging. However, the crowd was disappointed at how fleeting his performance was. Many left reviews in the YPlan app — where some purchased their tickets — expressing how much they enjoyed Zico’s set but were dissatisfied at how short-lived it was.
Featured image via Block B’s official Facebook.