Who: Magnetic Moon Tour: Tiffany Young
Where: U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC
When: November 9, 2019
Tiffany Young circled the world several times playing for millions of fans as a member of K-pop’s Girls’ Generation. However, there was still one place Young had never been: Washington, DC. On one chilly November night, 500 of Tiffany’s “Young Ones” lined up for hours around the corner of U and 11th to see Young’s debut in the District!
Into the New World
For those who are just learning of Ms. Young, her momentous premiere at U Street Music Hall, and her dozen-year career in the global music industry allow Concert Crap to “Teach You” with a brief recap:
The ever-ambitious Stephanie Young Hwang put all of her future on the line when she was scouted at a talent showcase by South Korea’s SM Entertainment just before her 16th birthday. Leaving her life as a high-schooler in Diamond Bar, California behind, the American flew to Seoul within weeks of signing. After surviving two rigorous years of training by SM’s hand, the newly-mononymic “Tiffany” was selected to debut as part of “소녀시대 (Girls’ Generation),” the first-ever nine-member girl group in the history of Korean pop, in 2007.
One decade later, with over 90 million global record sales, plus five of the top ten best-selling girl group concert tours worldwide, Tiffany confessed to her fellow Girls that she wanted to go back home and write her own music. Letting her contract with SM end without renewal in September 2017, with her bandmates’ blessings, she returned to California.
Tiffany began her American music journey the following year, reborn as “Tiffany Young.” In anticipation of building a self-penned, English-language body of work to perform live, she released seven singles and a five-song EP over the course of 13 months! Of that new portfolio, Young chose “Magnetic Moon” as the namesake track for her first full-out solo tour, playing 18 North American cities along the way.
DC, Under the Magnetic Moon
At 8 p.m. sharp on November 9th, the fervent buzzing from the “Young Ones” (a.k.a. Young’s beloved fans) in attendance reached a fever pitch inside U Street’s sold-out underground club! Young, in black boots and a sparkling red sequin dress, sauntered on-stage with the instrumental aid of BlackNoyze (Justin “Kanobby” Keitt on synths, programming, bass, and guitar; DJ “95GRVMZ” Graham on drums).
Her chrome-clad dancers, Ellen Kim and Eileen Harman, quickly joined her. For a few moments, the limited real estate of the Music Hall stage felt like it might force Young’s larger-than-life performance into a corner. However, the glittering trio swiftly served the choreography to club-thumper “Run For Your Life” without hesitation!
Over the next hour and a half, Young delivered a set than spanned languages and genres in equal measure. Every fan in the crowd sang along with Young, never missing a lyric of songs like the intimate pop-funk “Over My Skin,” or the mid-tempo breakup banger “Heartbreak Hotel.”
The singer often sang-spoke her banter between songs. For instance, Young sassily spoke the following before “Yellow Light” began: “In Washington, DC… looking through all of these different-colored lights… but pink is my favorite one!” (That remark was met with an audio-peaking set of screams, as fans holding pink-colored lightsticks from the merch stand waved them with abandon!)
The lifelong pop and K-pop megafan even included covers of tracks by her domestic and international heroes! Young put her own spin on the works of superstars such as Lee Hyori, Destiny’s Child, Uhm Jung-hwa, and Miley Cyrus. In a special shout-out to “her Girls,” she even performed a special reworking of the 2010 Girls’ Generation classic “Run Devil Run,” much to the audience’s delight!
The Flower Blooms in Surprise
The fans and Young showed their love for each other all night long, including a moment where Young hugged and took a letter from a devotee named Courtney, who’d followed Young’s career “for 11 years!” However, the pinnacle of these touching moments came a bit later in the show.
A few weeks prior to the gig, local fan Makeda (@soulbit_ch) organized a secret project, inviting fellow Young Ones to help her give the singer a mid-set surprise she’d never forget. Before the show, Makeda handed out fan signs with graphics and messages inspired by “The Flower.”
Released as the third track on Young’s 2019 Lips on Lips EP, the singer crafted “The Flower” as a reflection on moments when flowers represented more than their visual comfort. From times of sorrow, like the tragic passing of Young’s mother when the singer was 12, to times of celebration and success, Young said on-stage that she wanted the track to spread the message of wanting to become “the flower to someone else’s pain.”
As BlackNoyze began playing the song’s opening chords, dozens upon dozens of well-hidden signs were raised in the air. When Young read the signs’ message, “YOU’RE THE FLOWER TO OUR PAIN,” she covered her mouth and was reduced to tears!
Pushing through her emotions to limited success in the first verse, the singer looked towards her band and remarked, “Oh my god, I sound like shit!” Young carried on nevertheless, (mostly!) regaining control of her powerful pipes by the song’s end. Even so, she still apologized at the song’s end, asking, “Is it OK that I didn’t sing too well?” “YES!” was the only word on the 500 Young Ones’ lips in response!
Ending the show with a blazing performance of the tour’s disco-leaning title track, and a reprise of the opening song, Young made the most of her DC debut. Whether she was singing in Korean or English, dancing choreography, or crooning with a mic stand, the Young Ones in attendance were with her for every beat! The special bond between the singer and her fans may not have started on that night, but it was certain that from the experiences shared between them in U Street Music Hall, the love they had was now in full bloom.
Post and photos by Elizabeth Owens
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