Epik High at Forum Melbourne, July 11, 2022 – Live Review

For some reason, for the past 19 years, Epik High has evaded me.

While I grew up listening to the likes of BoA, Epik High was around too, but we always seemed to miss each other. Tonight however, on Monday the 11th of July at Forum Melbourne, our paths finally intertwined.

Upon arriving outside the venue, the lines to enter were insane. Circling around the block on both sides were fans, all eager to see their favourite K-Hip-Hop group. I managed to speak to some fans at the beginning of the queue, and Jason, who was at the very front, shared with me that he and his girlfriend arrived at 7am. Even though his girlfriend had a VIP ticket to enter the venue early at 6pm, he did not and would have to wait another hour (12 hours in total) before he’d be able to join her.

But what makes Epik High so enticing to inspire fans to line up for hours?

I know that the Korean Hip-Hop trio, consisting of Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz, have been around since their debut in 2003 and are pioneers of the genre. I also know that they’ve broken many records, have won many awards, and were the first major South Korean act to perform at Coachella, and to be invited back.

But how were they like live?

I had seen videos and have listened to their music before but considering this was my first time seeing Epik High live, I didn’t know anything first-hand. However, when Epik High finally took to the stage, a sea of phones lit up the venue floor and I was instantly captivated.

Hitting the stage with ‘Here’, Tablo began solo, before Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz joined him soon after in ‘Prequel’, followed by their major big hit ‘Fly’, before introducing themselves to the eager Melbourne crowd.

Nineteen years in the music industry is no ordinary feat and the group dished out many great songs including ‘Rosario’, ‘Super Rare’, ‘NO THANXXX’, ‘BURJ KHALIFA’ which showcased Mithra’s insane fast rapping skills, and ‘Love Love Love’ which contained a lot of finger hearts towards the audience. Crowd favourites of the night were ones that required a bit of audience participation including ‘One’, ‘Fan’, ‘New Beautiful’, and ‘High Technology’.

My favourite of the night however would be ‘Don’t Hate Me’ which not only had everyone on their feet, but the song provided a whole different type of energy in comparison to the other tracks, like a massive release from a heavy burden, but with so much heart.

Now, I expected Epik High to command the stage with their impressive skills and presence, but what I didn’t expect was for them to be funny.

From their cheeky introductions, musical talents, to their playful teasing banter, it’s hard not to love Epik High. Their antics of the night consisted of Tablo running and jumping into Mithra’s arms and then clinging to him like a koala, Tablo purposefully and hilariously mistranslating what the members were saying in English, Tukutz effortlessly spinning decks while providing fun tricks and dancing, Mithra signing a plain white t-shirt and throwing it into the audience, Tablo wishing he could clone Tukutz and then comparing him to a ‘speck of dust’ followed by a ‘black hole’, making the front row a ‘splash zone’ with all their water bottles, the group attempting to dance K-Pop style, and the signing of a single shoe (Crocs mind you) with Tablo smartly writing “Think about your life” to the fan that threw it onto the stage.

The most endearing moment of the night, however, was when Tablo on behalf of the group thanked the fans, both new and old for their love, support, and welcomed everyone in the venue as ‘family’. That was the moment when I realised this experience wasn’t just a concert, but something incredibly special.

Every moment spent in the presence of Epik High was a vibe of mutual love, a masterclass of gratitude, and a celebration of life, executed by Epik High with class, humour, passion, finesse, and joy. During those past years that mesh together as one trauma due to Covid, it is evident that artists have missed their fans and performing, just as much as fans have missed live music.

Not only did I finally understand why Epik High was so renown and beloved, but I was feeling it too. I, much like the audience, were eating out the palm of their hand, and I felt privileged and grateful to have been able to witness this incredible group live. I found myself going in curious and inexperienced, and leaving with not only my face hurting from laughing and smiling so much, but I was a fan. Epik High were epic, and hopefully it won’t be too long before they return to Australia, specifically Melbourne again.

Epik High is touring Australia as part of their 2022 Asia Pacific Tour.
Their final Australian show will be in Sydney on the 12th of July at Enmore Theatre, Sydney, before heading to Bangkok, Thailand, and finally Jakarta, Indonesia.
For more information and ticketing, visit: www.epikhigh.com

Tickets were provided for the purpose of this review.

Photography by Grant Alexander.

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