EXOlu’Xion concert introduces k-pop band, EXO, to North America


Photo by Esther Kim. K-pop group, EXO, held their first concert in New Jersey on Feb. 21 at Prudential Center. Their performance is one of the many attempts by the artists in the genre to expand its awareness to the international public.

Esther Kim, Editor-In-Chief

The black varsity jackets with the number “88” printed on their backs were common appearances on the cloudy afternoon of Feb. 21 at Prudential Center. Located in Newark, NJ, the center was preparing for the first-ever performance of the highly popular korean pop (k-pop) boy band, EXO, in the east coast. 

The group, which debuted in 2012 under the management of S.M. Entertainment, one of the most influential entertainment companies in South Korea, has garnered immense attention over the past four years, winning “Album of the Year” at South Korea’s Golden Disk Awards for three consecutive years.

I, who have been a fan of the band since their debut, was one of the many who lined up around the center until the doors opened around 6 p.m. I had to wait around three hours prior to the concert, but the line moved fairly swiftly once people started entering the stage. The stairs and escalators that led to the arena were very steep, but I could see enthusiastic fans dashing up the incline without looking back.

The group’s tour, named “EXO PLANET#2 – The EXOlu’Xion,” began in 2014. The band’s North American tour was one of its last stops until its encore concert in Seoul on March 18-20. This particular concert was their last location in North America, ending a short tour that began in Dallas, Texas and continued to cities such as Vancouver, Canada and Los Angeles, Calif.

The concert started promptly at 6:30 p.m. Being a long-time fan of the group, it was definitely surreal to see the eight members of EXO for the first time–after all, I had only seen them through computer screens and YouTube, so it was very strange to see them in New Jersey at the same venue.

The concert, which lasted approximately two hours, was packed with many of their hit songs in Asia. Although the band is usually identified as a dance performance group (and most of their title songs have their own choreography), they did provide a variety of genres, including R&B, EDM and even Christmas carols.

Over the past few years, the rising popularity of k-pop has led to an increased number of opportunities for international fans to meet their favorite boy and girl groups. While the globalization of a cultural movement is often seen with a positive look, it also faces the question: Adhering to tradition, or following the new standards? 

While k-pop is a widespread music genre, it is also one that is highly inclusive to a select number of music fans. As I see more and more groups deciding on their adventurous journey to the international arena, it becomes ever more important for the entire industry of k-pop to realize what truly appeals to the audience about the genre and how it should evolve to continue its unique character.