News about the legendary Korean alternative hip-hop group finally making their way to the shores of Malaysia shook their fans, High Skools, to their core. On 2nd December 2022, Epik High (에픽하이) brought their “Epik High Is Here — Asia Pacific Tour” to Zepp KL, organised by CK Star Entertainment.
Despite the pouring rain that brought puddles onto the steps of Zepp, the burning spirits of fans could not be put out so easily. Fans scuttled as fast as they could in an orderly fashion down the many escalators to get to the concert entrance, where the show would begin right on the dot. The moment the lights went down, the only thing that was audible for a moment were the screams of raw excitement — before launching into heavy bass of Epik High’s “Here”.
Tablo, Mirtha Jin, and DJ Tukutz got everyone jumping from the very start. The intimate venue was bursting with energy, the old school hip hop beats blasting through the speakers accompanied by the performers’ smooth delivery, transporting us all back into a different era. After three songs, the trio decided it was time for introductions. Ever the comedians, each member had prepared a bombastic instrumental for themselves as they did a lap around the stage (the rest whooping along enthusiastically).
“Tonight, Kuala Lumpur, we’re gonna make you feel many emotions,” promised Tablo. “We’re gonna take the lows you walked in here with, the worries, the anger, the frustration. We’ll turn it… into highs,” he promised with a grin.
With that, the lights went low and rowdy “Fake ID” started, driving the crowd wild. Tablo effortlessly rapped, having fans eat from the palm of his hand. Mithra’s charisma was flowing off the charts as he spit verse after verse flawlessly with his deep timbre. DJ Tukutz’s flow paired with his stellar breakdancing showed what a triple threat the man was behind the turntable. The years of experience Epik High has truly shows in their performance. It was in the unmistakable swag that comes with being veterans in the field. The stage was not something foreign to them, it was home.
When the ghostly familiar intro of “Rosario” started, there was an immediate a sea of phones that went up. A popular choice feat CL of 2NE1; clearly an awaited performance of the night. What followed was “Burj Khalifa” — the addictive intro sent the crowd intro a frenzy, which got even crazier with water bottle sprays from the members on stage. DJ Tukutz’s sick turntable mix constantly kept the energy flowing as well, while the Tablo and Mirtha tore up the stage.
Asides insane performances, what made the night particularly memorable was Tablo’s witty comments. He took a breather to ask the crowd if anyone flew in from overseas to see them, even asking if there were anyone from South Korea. When a few audience members raised their hands, the rapper incredulously stated, “You know… we live there,” as the audience exploded into laugher. One part intense rap performances, one part comedy special, Tablo kept interacting with the crowd, making everyone laugh with his wit and dad jokes. He proudly identified as “Haru’s appa” above all, ever the humble man he is.
Tablo then dedicated the next song to the crowd, “Super Rare”, with a heartfelt speech about staying true to yourself in a society that forces us to conform. The emotional self love anthem had the crowd passionately singing along and vigorously bopping their heads along. The night continued with the honest “Bleed” before transitioning into “Love Love Love”, where the upbeat nature had fans jumping along to the syrupy 90s pop beats.
Another hilarious blunder of the night happened when a fan gave Tablo their phone but did not turn it on. The rapper was not about to let this go, happily announcing to the audience that he was gracious enough to turn the phone on for her but was then surprised by the poor fan’s lockscreen wallpaper of MINO from WINNER. He added that they were probably too carried away by the wallpaper to remember to record, which made the crowd laugh relentlessly. MINO wasn’t the only other K-pop artist that got a shout out that night— Tablo also name dropped RM from BTS, who had just released his first LP “Indigo” earlier that evening. The two had a track together on the album, which Tablo urged everyone to check out before thanking the audience for choosing to spend the night with them.
It was never a dull moment with Epik High during the show. Poking fun at his own members and himself, the concert felt like a family gathering where it was a safe space. The trio were so entertaining to watch, even when they weren’t performing, there was always a show of some sort of a happening on stage. With a natural penchant for humour and setting the mood, they effortlessly created a fun environment.
A true showstopper of the night was DJ Tukutz, breaking it down old school style with his B-boy moves. Keeping within theme, they then launched into the firecracker of a track, “One”. The late 2000s jam got all fans moving on the dance floor, bopping along to the nostalgia tinged track. Saving the best for the second half of the show, Epik High barrelled through the night hit after hit; the dramatic “Fan”, powerful “High Technology”, and energetic “New Beautiful”. Ending with the pop-rock anthem “Don’t Hate Me”, the trio ducked out for a moment before returning for a much demanded encore performance. The night came to a close with two encore performances. With the 90s hip-hop influence on “No Thanxxx” and stylish swag of “Born Hater”, Epik High ended their first show in Kuala Lumpur in high spirits. Epically, even.
Puns aside, Epik High’s shows are more than just a gig because of the sincerity of the performers. Their down to earth nature and want to connect with fans is one that cannot be replicated, which is what makes each show is so intimate and personal. The passion and emotion in their discography stretch over decades and still burn so brightly when they are on stage. Creating music that inspired generations to come, the originals in the game played a huge part in crafting the many K-pop and K-hip hop artists we know today.
Epik High truly have proven themselves as artists worth watching at least once in a lifetime for an electrifying experience like no other. And hey, the dad jokes are a great plus too.
Leyasheena Panicker contributed to this review.