Being an artist has never been synonymous with an easy life and Bang Yong-guk‘s story is one to admire. Born and raised in South Korea, Bang quickly caught attention with his rapping and songwriting skills. At the age of 18, he debuted in an underground hip-hop group Soul Connection and in 2011, he released a solo digital single I Remember. He also collaborated with Zelo, his future B.A.P co-member, and the two released the single Never Give Up togetherA year later, the boy group B.A.P was formed; and that was when the proper roller-coaster ride began for Bang Yong-guk. While working immensely hard on their music and touring the world, the young man’s dream turned into a nightmare when B.A.P. was forced to sue their own record label for unfair treatment and unfair distribution of their hard-earned money. After a few turbulent months, the issue got resolved and the band resurfaced, but Bang Yong-guk decided to take some time off to recover from all the stress that he experienced. Without being able to flourish as a rapper, and after his contract expired, the artist left the label as well as B.A.P. itself. With the group and the company now a thing of the past, Bang Yong-guk finally became his own man and released a self-titled solo album, electrifying his fans with superb music and personal songs.

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Photo © UnitedKpop & CONCEPTLORE Photography 

This year, with the help of KEvents, the artist embarked on a small European tour, including a stop in London. With his shows sold-out, Bang Yong-guk proved that even in the face of difficult times, especially when one feels like giving up, one should never walk away from what one loves the most… and in his case, that was music.

Taking place in Camden’s Underworld, the event kicked off with DJ EBONY‘s set; the audience jumped and sang to a selection of oldies such as songs by Queen and Oasis – at some point, the crowd even found it possible to pull off some salsa moves to Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. After the great warm-up, the crowd was ready to welcome Bang Yong-guk on the stage. Without any unnecessary talk, the rapper moved straight to business, and began his performance with darkness as his backdrop. It is hard to tell to what extent the lack of lighting was intentional, but without being able to see the artist well, it became simpler to actually concentrate on the music itself… Let’s be honest – his good looks can be distracting.

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Photo © UnitedKpop & CONCEPTLORE Photography 

Bang Yong-guk, dressed in a fancy black Coco Chanel shirt and jeans, started his set explosively with Codex Gigas, a track with a dark sense of tragedy and heavy lyrics. He then smoothly moved to Hikikomori and AM 4:44, which brought the audience together – It was a sight to see, such a wonderful crowd at a gig: from 14-year-old kids with their guardians to slightly older students, and to people in their thirties – the versatile audience had a fabulous time as the room oozed with positive vibes. Bang Yong-guk kept his focus on his performance, giving a few nods here and there in response to the screaming audience, and occasionally gifted the fans with a broad smile.

Journey, which followed, is another great song, taking on the common topics of dejection and feelings of incompleteness. DrunkennessI Need to Talk, followed by Hot and Cold  glued the crowd to the floor with dynamic sounds and made everyone sway to the beat, making it clear that Bang Yong-guk’s talent and creativity have no limits, and that he requires no fancy staging – his skills as a rapper are enough to attract the audience and keep it focused. The artist sang six more songs, including Body LotionYa, which has a pleasant R&B feeling to it, and Yamazaki, a song with rough lyrics and a fierce rap performance.

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Photo © UnitedKpop & CONCEPTLORE Photography 

The time did fly with all of the fun and the gig came to an end with Xie Xie and See You Later. Bong Yong-guk performed for an hour or so in total, but it felt like he was on and off the stage in a matter of minutes. The show felt very intimate, ultimately giving the crowd a personable experience; everything about the performance was wonderful. Looking at Bang Yong-guk’s previous and current works, it is not hard to notice that he has truly evolved as an artist and became a proper voice of his generation.

Rating: 4-stars

Written by Maggie Gogler

Edited by Sanja Struna

Featured photo © DekayValentine 

*We would like to thank UnitedKpop, Lore in particular, for Bang Yong-guk’s photos.

*We would like to thank the lovely Jessie Sandhu, Bang Yong-guk’s fan, who helped us with the set-list.

*Note to the organisers: We wish the gig’s organiser KEvents was more helpful and attentive to the needs of the press. The lack of proper press accreditation and procedure and no appropriate space designated for a professional photographer at the event itself were very frustrating. The communication we had with a staff member turned out to be tiring and unsuccessful, and despite a long wait and a lot of patience on our side, we were unable to receive official pictures from the gig, even though the organiser agreed to procure them. We would like the organiser to take into consideration that such a non-professional approach can harm not only you, but the artist himself.

 

   

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About View of the Arts

We are enthusiasts of the arts, passionate about cinema, theatre, and literature. Maggie is a freelance film producer, production manager and she also works with children. Sanja is a freelance translator, occasional writer and a perpetual dreamer. Film is her first and longest-lasting love. Roxy is an Arts Journalist, who writes for several magazines and websites.

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