All photos credited to Peter Byun / IPE
While there are various multi-cultural events such as concerts and festivals scattered throughout the year, We Bridge Music Festival and Expo brought a mixture of that to this year’s first ever event. We Bridge Music Festival and Expo is an Asian-centered cultural expo curated to bring together the beauty of different aspects of the Asian culture.
Upon first greeting after entering the expo were life-like cutouts of all the featured performing KPOP artists, who were split between two nights of concerts. Headlining Friday’s concert was MONSTA X, who shared the stage with Dreamcatcher, Jessi, CIX, KANGDANIEL, and ONEUS, who performed both nights. Saturday’s concert featured headliner ENHYPEN, who performed alongside VIVIZ, BamBam, and BE’O. While the the expo itself did feature special appearances, hi-touches, and a brief Q&A with the artists on the GRAMMY Museum Stage for each respective night, it was not the only highlight. There were many photo opportunities set up, including a specialized setup that allowed expo-goers to experience a professional photoshoot with designated photographers. To celebrate in true KPOP fashion, there was even an included dance stage to teach avid KPOP fans a designated song from a random selection of the performing artists’ songs. Further along the way, a gallery was set up with featured pieces by a select few Asian artists. Nestled near the GRAMMY Museum stage was a food vendor setup with various different food samples ranging from across different Asian spectrums. The expo itself also featured a few different merch options, which included artwork inspired clothing, local Asian clothing merch, and even KPOP album sales.
Opening for the 1st night of We Bridge Music Festival and Expo’s concert portion was CIX, whom opened with a few of their classics which included “458” off their latest EP, “Like It That Way,” and “Cinema.” Their set made for a lively opening, as their music had the fans from across the stadium cheering and dancing along. Taking the stage next was ONEUS, who brought a set filled with heavy bass and dance influenced numbers. Their set began with “Bring it On,” which introduced their charismatic dancing to the fans. It wasn’t until their performance of tracks “Luna” and “Lit,” however, that the group successfully transported the audience to South Korea with their vibrant music inspired by classic Korean instrumentals, and synchronized fan dancing. Finishing their set with “No Diggity,” ONEUS’s stage made anyone in the audience not already a fan become one, and inspired many to explore more of the South Korean culture with their beautiful songs.
Dreamcatcher came soon after, beginning their stage with “Maison,” off of their latest full length album, quickly followed by “Boca.” Excited to greet their fans, they put on a charismatic performance that received a lot of praise for being one of the few KPOP groups in the lineup to feature a more Rock-inspired music concept. To finish off their setlist, they ended with “Mayday” and “Scream.” The first soloist of the night was next, as KANGDANIEL opened his set with “Nirvana,” featured off his latest 2022 EP, and dove right in to songs such as “Paranoia” and “Antidote.” The soloist’s performance proved he can fill the stage with his own powerful vocals and smooth dancing, and he soon finished his set with “How We Live” and “Ready to Ride.”
Finishing off his set with ‘How we live’ and ‘Ready to ride’. Next up was another soloist, and the only woman soloist of the weekend, Jessi. Her prowess and stage presence alone were proof that she can bring the energy up with her strong raps and genuine personality. She started out her set with “What Type of X” and “Gucci,” two songs that give off her usual boss babe vibes. Jessi is known to be unfiltered when it comes to her fans, and she proved this true as she even had several one-on-one moments during the show that made a lot of dreams come true. Her set came to an end with her trendy classics “NUNU NANA” and “Zoom.” Concluding the night as We Bridge Music Festival and Expo’s first headliner was MONSTA X. Despite being down two members due to military enlistment, the veteran group still filled the room with their powerful vocals, rap, and dancing. They opened the stage with a few of their English classics, “You Problem” and “Someone’s Someone,” which had the room vibing with each lyric. Within a few more songs, they came to the finale performance with “Burnin’ Up” and “ZONE.” Having an amazing time on stage with the crowd, the group even offered up an encore performance of “ZONE,” ending the night with cheers of excitement.
Night two of the concerts began with BE’O, who tore up the stage with a few fan favorites from his time on Show Me the Money, such as “Limousine.” The rapper also performed some of his solo releases, including viral song “Counting Stars,” and “Love Me,” which has a more melancholic sound with upbeat instrumentals. This was the rapper’s first time in the U.S., and he finished his set with promises to return. Following up as the second performance of the evening for the second time was ONEUS, who performed the same set as the previous night. Being the only artist to grace the stage twice, they certainly bumped the bar up high and enthusiastically made the event a concert of their own. Performing the same setlist but with different attire, the group brought their energy even higher than night one.
Next up was the first and only girl group of the evening, VIVIZ. Known previously as members of GFRIEND, Eunha, SinB, and Umji started their set with “LOVEADE,” before diving straight into songs such as “Pull Up,” and finishing their set with debut track “Bop Bop!” The trio had a bright energy that resonated with the sound of their music and energy as they gave their first U.S. performance as VIVIZ. Up next was the second soloist of the evening, BamBam. His performance began with “Pandora,” which was one of two tracks performed off his first solo EP. The GOT7 member continued his set with “Ride or Die,” before eventually wrapping up his set with most recent release, “Sour and Sweet.” The singer wrapped up his stage with his cool vocals and addictive tracks that made fans and Ahgase alike proud.
The final headliner to take the stage was none other than ENHYPEN. Although they were the youngest group in the lineup, their talent was definitely unquestionable. They brought the heat right from the beginning of their set with “Fever,” and continued the momentum with “TFW” and “Future Perfect (Pass the Mic).” The energy in the venue hit an all-time high, and although the festivities were coming to a close, it felt as if it was only beginning. Ending the night with “Shout Out,” the group left the stage, only to surprise fans a few moments later with an encore performance of their hit song “Polaroid Love.”
Bringing two nights of concerts and a wide range of performing artists, We Bridge Music Festival and Expo’s first year was filled with happiness and everlasting memories.