Every time I go to a standing concert, I tell myself it will be my last.
Much like a hangover, the muscle ache and dreariness are a distant memory once the promise of an evening out is dangled in front of me. Thank you to my good friend Amelia for dangling the proverbial carrot, because that is how I found myself queueing outside Manchester Academy for what would be one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen: DPR’s Regime Tour.
For those of you who don’t know, DPR are a South Korean genre-crossing music and visual label. Founded by a group of friends, they now run the label as well as create their own music under the moniker. On the night I saw DPR Live and DPR Ian take to the stage, their versatility was on full display, ranging from hip-hop and indie to soft rock and R&B.
In a post-Brexit Britain, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the popularity of music from other parts of the world. And so, arriving at 3pm to join the queue, we found it already snaking its way down Oxford Road towards Manchester Museum, a diverse crowd of ethnicities, religions, ages and genders, all braving the bitter winter Manchester air to experience an evening of good music together. Brilliant.
With venues like Manchester Academy, I’ve come to expect little to no staging. However, from the start, DPR proved that a small stage is no limit to theatricality. Smoke, bubbles, multiple confetti cannons, pool rings, a giant inflatable spaceman, an even bigger mechanical hand, and that’s not even the half of it.
I’ve been to a fair amount of gigs but the energy in the room for this one was intense and energetic. I was taken back to my teenage years, getting lost in the music at the club, sweating, hands in the air, people jumping up and down, dancing. It was a moment of complete freedom, liberated from the worries of day-to-day life by a bass line, hi-hat, and an intoxicatingly melodic rap line. By the end of their two and half hour set, I felt a level of exhaustion I haven’t felt since enduring a fitness session with my best friend and her personal trainer/boxer boyfriend.
Gone was the hard exterior of your typical western hip-hop artist – several times they requested that event staff hand out water and turn up the house lights to check that everyone was safe. This felt like a 2,600-strong group of friends on a night out, wanting everyone to have a great time and be safe while they do it. Artists like DPR are rare in western hip-hop – they consistently create content of a high standard but still give a damn about their audience.
If people could get past the language barrier, DPR would have more commercial success in the western market. People are depriving themselves of quality music and for what? To the lads at the bus stop on my way home who rolled their eyes and said “k-pop and k-hip hop are the same”, I’ll say this: let go of your preconceived notions of Korean music and you’ll find that good music transcends borders.