On Monday, hundreds of fans lined up outside the front doors of Koreatown’s Arena Ultra Lounge for the chance to catch artist and entertainer Jay Park perform in an intimate setting. As part of a joint effort to increase usership and promote the Jay-Z-curated Made In America Festival, streaming service TIDAL teamed up with clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch for a series of pop-up shows across the country. Admission was free, but proof of either TIDAL or A&F Club membership was required for entry.
This past week featured Park in Los Angeles and bedroom pop sensation Clairo in Columbus, Ohio. Curiously enough, TIDAL advertised the pop-ups for Park and Clairo on Twitter by claiming that the shows would be hosted at universities, with Park’s at USC and Clairo’s at The Ohio State University. However, the exact time and location would not be revealed unless fans RSVP’d online, and, upon doing so, it became apparent that Park’s show was neither at USC nor USC-affiliated.
Even so, without university backing, the pop-up attracted hordes of young and college-age fans to the nightclub’s front, many of them waiting outside for hours. Shortly before the show’s scheduled 7 p.m. door time, the queue stretched around the block, with fans clamoring to secure one of the mere 200 tickets that would be handed out that evening. Upon entry, patrons were greeted with free TIDAL-themed merchandise, from tote bags to bandanas to free membership cards.
Inside, the intimate club equipped with a skilled DJ and ear-splitting speakers provided for the perfect setting for fans to unwind their nervous energy. Backdropped by a vibrant LED-powered screen, the DJ pumped up the crowd with a seemingly endless arsenal of club hits both old and new. From strip club staples like Drake’s “The Motto” and Migos’ “Fight Night,” to 90s skating rink classics like Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” the DJ kept the warm-up tunes fresh and diverse. He also took time to flash his technical skills and curation abilities, seamlessly transitioning from the Backstreet Boys’ nostalgic “I Want It That Way” to Juvenile’s club-toppling “Back That Azz Up.”
However, logistical issues prevented Park from hitting the stage at a convenient time, and the audience grew impatient. The DJ continued to reach back into his wheelhouse of club bangers, even inviting a hype man onstage to work the crowd. After half an hour of honest attempts to win back the room with novelty tunes and Latin pop classics, the pair on stage were greeted with static energy and requests to bring Park to the stage.
Finally, Park took the stage shortly after 9 p.m., and the room’s energy shifted immediately. The swarm of erratic screams and squeals almost drowned out Park at first, but a quick tweak to the rapper’s microphone quickly remedied the situation. Park’s crisp blend of hip-hop, pop and electronic dance music produces a deafeningly mainstream sound that is as accessible as it is familiar. The squeaky clean instrumentation and sugary vocals seemed engineered to offend as few people as possible, and they succeeded in doing so at this performance.
Here, Park showcased his many talents as he rapped, sang and danced with ease — all that was left was to project a clip from his acting career. During his more pop-influenced material, Park opted to tap his background as a breakdancer, flashing his impressive moves with a pair of backup dancers. Alas, an exhausted and impatient crowd stopped dancing, and Park concluded the set after about 30 minutes.
In all, the pop-up served as an enjoyable escape from the Monday blues. The opportunity to see a multidimensional performer and entertainer like Park is often elusive, but TIDAL and Abercrombie provided the ideal venue for 200 lucky fans to catch this experience. Judging from the success of the initial pop-up, Park’s return to Los Angeles should be a can’t-miss event.