Hey folks, so I know it’s been a few weeks since the Project Korea III event featuring Clara Chung, Decipher, Johnnyphlo, Ailee, and Art of Movement went down but we didn’t want to leave you guys hanging without a recap (in case you haven’t read about the event already). We had some pictures and footage to share but quite frankly none of it came close to the quality of the photos and videos put out by the folks of AllKPOP, one of the major sponsors of the show. So just as a disclaimer, all visual multimedia content we are using here was actually captured by AKP. However, any editorial content presented (TEXT) reflect my opinions and thoughts and do not necessarily reflect those of AKP. Just thought we’d clear that up.
Continue reading about Project Korea III after the break!
Project Korea is a yearly cultural night event presented by the Korean Student Association of Rutgers. 2010 saw PK come to it’s third iteration, seeing substantial growth in it’s scope and scale. Most notably, this year’s festivities doubled as the highly anticipated return of ex-KPOP star Jaebeom, aka Jay Park, in his first public appearance since splitting from the JYPE pop group 2PM. Jay, along with Junior, Dialtone, and Cha Cha (some of his teammates from Art of Movement, his Seattle based B-boy crew) were booked as the headlining musical act. The opening performance billing was no slouch either with southern California based and recent Kollaboraiton 2010 winner Clara Chung booked to perform along with the more local line-up of Decipher, Johnnyphlo, and Ailee. So clearly there were some big names and big talent slated for this show. The other major component besides the music numbers was an actual musical play put on by the Rutgers KSA. The event reportedly sold out in just a couple days making it very clear that this was a highly anticipated event.
On the day of the show, some eager fans lined up as early as 7AM to make sure they get the best seats, camping outside the on-campus venue. I met up with fellow AA focused website AAtheory before the show and by the time we had arrived about 45 minutes before the doors opened, there was already a substantial line snaking around the courtyard adjacent to the building. There was a pretty big buzz of excitement full of audience members of all ages though I would say the demographics leaned more towards the female youth variety. Make no mistake, it was very clear based on the ambient conversations that many of those in attendance were primarily there to see Jay.
We were shuffled into the auditorium around 7PM, and indeed the house was packed. All 750ish seats were taken. Things kicked off with a replaying of the event trailer, briefly previewing the musical play along with the musical acts. Each artist was show on screen and triggered substantial applause but when Art of Movement and Jay Park were displayed, the room was instantly engulfed in hysterical female screams. A tiresome pattern that would be repeated many times throughout the evening. The emcees made their way to the stage welcoming the crowd and proceeded to introduce First Light, a Christian acapella group from Rutgers. They sang both the Korean and US national anthems quite well. We were then given a traditional Korean dance presentation courtesy of a local dance troupe made up of elementary school girls.
Afterwards, we dove into the first main event of the night, the musical play. Loosely based on the Korean drama Goong, with a twist of other popular shows as well. The general plot was that a Korean-American college student had been arranged to marry the prince of South Korea due to a pact made by both individual’s parents before their births. She is suddenly uprooted from her normal life and thrust into learning the ins and outs of becoming royalty. Drama ensues when she encounters difficulty acclimating to her surroundings and and a less then welcome reception by her new husband. She finds comfort in the arms of another man, revealed to be the prince’s cousin, who harbors unspoken jealousy and resentment for the fact that he is not in line for the throne. By the end of it all, the princess realizes the cousin’s less than altruistic intentions and ends up reconciling with the prince, who also has a change of heart and begins to openly accept his new bride and role as head of the dynasty. As previously mentioned, the entire production was set as a musical, with numerous interjections of KPOP songs and dances used to propel the story forward. Throughout the show, songs by Brown Eyed Girls, T-ara, SNSD, Taeyang, and more were used. For a group of volunteers and non-professional actors, the play was fairly entertaining with both high and low moments. The roughest part of the entire thing was the pacing, with 8 Chapters to go through, some scenes definitely lasted longer than they needed to, causing the entire musical to clock in at roughly an hour and a half. Ambitious but a bit superfluous.
Following the play, they jumped straight into the musical numbers with Clara Chung starting things off. She performed brilliantly in her trademark quirky nature. She started with an interesting cover of “Thugz Mansion” by 2pac, then sang a mash up of the Kings of Leon’s hit “Use Somebody” and Colbie Caillat’s “Falling For you” before finishing up with her own originals “Heartstrings” and “Offbeat”. Encouraging audience participation, she showed those of us on the East coast why she deservedly won Kollaboration just a month earlier.
Next up was Philly native Decipher. He switched up the mood and started things off with his hit Lloyd Banks remix track ‘Hyundai Daewoo Kia’. He toned down the energy a tad and followed with his song ‘Where You From’, an ode to his people all over the country, repping different areas. In a complete change of pace, he smoothed it all out with a yet-to-be released slow jam entitled ‘I Wanna Be’ featuring Andrew Choi on the track (but sadly not present for the show). The guy even showed off some of his dance skills during this number. There were a couple technical glitches but De kept it professional and it was on with the show.
Johnnyphlo was the next act, jumping in with his track ‘Too Late’ (featuring James Ha, also absent). In a complete 180, the next song performed was ‘Keep Your Head Up (To The Sky)’, a high energy song of encouragement where he spits double time for the majority of the track. Keeping the energy high, he closed it out with this hit ‘Rollercoaster’, assisted by the very talented R&B diva Ailee, who also broke it down with some dance moves during the bridge. There were some mixing issues, with some distortion present that distracted from the overall performance a bit.
In a very special performance, Johnnyphlo and Ailee was joined back on stage with Decipher and Clara where they performed a remix to the hit Wondergirls song ‘Nobody’, the Rainstone remix. De & JP spit some love raps to a couple of the audience members while the ladies Ailee and Clara held it down on the chorus and bridge. With an awesome exclusive remix, it’s performances like these that make it worth while to attend live events where you would never otherwise see such a collaboration. Listen for the Johnnyphlo line “I ain’t no Jay Park, but you can be my hottest”. The crowd LOVED that line.
Last but not least was Art of Movement. Believe me when I say, when Jay and company walked unto the stage, the crowd erupted into pandemonium. They had so much love for Jay, Dialtone, Cha Cha, and Junior… ESPECIALLY Jay. Every word, movement, interaction this kid did was golden in the eyes of the audience. They actually started things off with several crowd participation activities, asking for volunteers (of which the numbers were plentiful) to go head to head in various goofy activities against each of the AoM members. This included a handstand race, blinking contest, and a game of paper, rock, scissors. The most notable contest was when Jay and a girl had a dance off to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”. At the end of it all, they went into a 10 minute dance routine mixed with freestyle and choreography. No, Jay did perform any vocals, be it rap or song, but kept it strictly dance with his crew. Even though the crowd would have loved them regardless, I do want to say on record AoM is a pretty talented crew. They def held it down.
And there you have it. Our exhaustive but thorough recap of ProjectKorea III. For even more photos and review, make sure to check out the actual AKP posts themselves on Clara, Decipher x Johnnyphlo x Ailee, and AoM. It was a fun, but lengthy show with a healthy dose of Asian-American talent. Props to Rutgers KSA for putting such a big show together, and a big thank you to AllKPop for the all great media.