Whether it’s a K-pop group or a K-hip-hop artist, performing at The Novo in Los Angeles is somewhat of a rite of passage for many up-and-coming South Korean acts. It marks the point in their Stateside popularity where they have a solid enough following to show up for them and signals a bright future. Especially when the show is sold out, which is exactly what happened to the band Day6 on Sunday night.
When one thinks about K-pop, the image of men and women dancing in perfect sync in glittering outfits may come to mind. But in reality, K-pop is an umbrella term that covers many genres and types of artists. And though rare, it does include a handful of groups that play instruments, often called idol bands. Day6 fits somewhere near that description, being a band that writes and produces their music. They’re managed by JYP Entertainment, one of the biggest Korean entertainment companies, which also houses big K-pop acts like GOT7 and Twice.
Day6 began their career in 2015 as a six-piece band, but currently has five members: Sungjin (main vocalist and rhythm guitarist), Jae (vocalist and lead guitarist), Young K (vocalist and bassist), Wonpil (vocalist and keyboardist), and Dowoon (drummer). Since their beginning, Day6 opted out of going the traditional K-pop route of performing on music shows (think TRL meets American Bandstand and add a popularity contest at the end) and strived to work their way up as a legit band instead of leaning onto their affiliation to JYP as a crutch. Whether the lack of visibility has affected or benefitted them in their home country, Day6 is well loved abroad, especially in the U.S. Though their music ranges within the amalgamation of alternative rock and pop-punk, their songs all share heartfelt and oftentimes gut-wrenching vocals.
Running a bit behind the scheduled start time, Day6 plowed through their set list. Fans were still getting into the venue and finding their seats as the band played “Smile,” “First Time,” and “Better Better.” Without much of an introduction or the usual chit-chat, the guys continued playing a mix of singles and b-sides like “Say Wow,” “Somehow,” and “I Want.”
Though they’ve only been active for three years, Day6 has three EPs and three studio albums under their belt. And while the band had a fan meeting in La Mirada last year, the “Youth” world tour stop in LA was the first time they played a full concert for My Day— their fans— which explains why they performed a grand total of 26 songs throughout the night.
Los Angeles was the last city on Day6’s five-stop North American leg of the tour. Most of the members looked visibly happy throughout the show, but to say that Cerritos native Jae was ecstatic is an understatement. He stated repeatedly that he knew it was going to be a good night over the crowd’s energy, and even prefaced “I Need Somebody” by saying he wasn’t going to sing his parts so the fans would. And My Day did, in fact, sing the all-Korean lyrics. After a very loud rendition of “How Can I Say,” Wonpil told the audience through a translator, “Compared to last time, you know the songs better.” Because in contrast with most K-pop acts, Day6’s songs have way less English words and phrases. But that isn’t a deterrent. After stating that their debut song “Congratulations” is one that they care deeply about, Jae and Sungjin let the crowd sing the opening verses of the track, which have zero English in them.
The entire set featured a good mix of tracks to dance to (“Like That Sun,” “Be Lazy”) and others that got the fans in their feelings (“You Were Beautiful,” “I Loved You”). But it was definitely their latest single, “Shoot Me,” that generated the most fervor from the audience’s chants of “Bang! Bang!” and “Bullet! Bullet! Bullet!”
For the last set in the show, the members took the last few songs to ditch the instruments and go into the crowd to jam with fans. Jae came off the stage during “Free” and sang right in front of the fans in the barricade, and during “Sing Me,” Young K followed suit while Jae went up to the orchestra level to interact with those with seats. He even exchanged a few cute moments with his mom and friends who sat in the first few rows. This track was supposed to be the last of the night, but from the balcony, Jae pleaded for another song. “It’s your night,” Young K responded, saying he could do whatever the other wanted. That lead onto a bonus performance of “Feeling Good,” which Young K took as his chance to come up to the orchestra level, while the rest of the members lingered in the pit. It should be noted that no one mobbed the members; fans respectfully held their hands up for a high-five at best and maybe a selfie. They allowed them to get as much ground as possible, which for Jae was all the way up in the nosebleeds.
Just before the encore, the members all took a moment to thank the fans for attending the show and reflect on what this tour meant to them. “It’s an honor to spend my youth with you guys,” a very touched Young K told the crowd. “It’s also a great honor [for us that you] have us in your youth.” Sungjin later reciprocates the sentiment saying, “we are very lucky guys.”