DPR Live ended his “Coming to You Live” tour on Oct. 14 at his sold-out UC Theatre show with a polished performance showcasing his formidable vocal talent. The Korean heartthrob and rapper-singer hybrid, supported by the rest of his meager Dream Perfect Regime, was met with raucous adulation from the crowd.
The audience could hardly be contained: fans were screaming for DPR Live minutes before the opener even came on. When the headliner finally commandeered the stage, he periodically crushed and threw plastic water bottles at the mosh pit, squirting their contents onto his fans. The meticulously practiced move lost its effect after its fifth or sixth deployment.
DPR Live’s set was an impressively streamlined exercise in formulaic, feel-good indie rap. Certainly, his rhythm was tremendous and his lyricism endless. And the artist and his crew were thoroughly committed to the “live” aspect of the “Coming to You Live” tour. It was refreshing to see a rapper performing to beats instead of half-heartedly mouthing along to their original vocal tracks. But the repeated appearance of live instrumentation, courtesy of DPR Cream on the keys, was an even more wonderful surprise. Throughout the night, DPR Cream delivered unctuous, satisfying jazz chords on a bare-bones, classic organ synth. That same sound permeates much of DPR Live’s recorded work. Watching it cooked up live was a magical experience that is absent from most concerts. Fans are sure to have felt they got their money’s worth.
Unfortunately, whatever points DPR Live gained with his tasteful performance etiquette were negated by his overwhelming corniness. Coming To You Live, the artist’s debut EP and the namesake of the tour, is also pretty corny. But on tape, DPR Live’s goofy, wide-eyed romanticism is endearing and part of his appeal. Songs such as “Cheese & Wine” and “Right Here Right Now” are sappy with a purpose. On the other hand, cuts such as “Laputa” are complete nonsense. The hook of that song is “girl your body be like Laputa.” Listeners are left wondering if he means that the subject’s body is shaped like a castle or an island. And even the most probable explanation for the line, that the girl’s body is mythical in its beauty, is quite a reach.
The degree of corniness increased marginally when translated from tape to stage. DPR Live is a sensational performer, and when he was rapping, his heartbroken act was entertaining enough. But the cringiest moments of the show happened between tracks, when DPR Live, over and over, sought validation from the audience. In one interstitial monologue, he told the crowd, “You guys have to talk to me when I’m still present,” since, “later on, it gets so lit that my mind goes blank.” It was unclear when the show reached that level of energy.
In another interlude, the musician simply listed all the tracks on his album, asking the crowd whether they liked each song. It’s hard to read these moments as sincere and not cloying gimmicks. DPR Live admitted during each interlude that he knew it felt like the end of the show — a strange act of self-sabotage. The only redeeming quality of these monologues was DPR Cream’s delicious backing instrumentals, which rendered DPR Live’s self-indulgent musings halfway bearable.
And any description of the night would be incomplete without mentioning the bizarre moment in the middle of the show when DPR Live brought on his cousin to perform “Fortnite” dances. Under neon-green lasers, DPR Live’s cousin did the dance for Blocboy JB’s “Shoot” (which in the game is called “Hype”) and the iconic “Orange Justice.” DPR Live’s cousin should be applauded for taking a chance and putting himself out there. But his performance was more bewildering than anything, compounding the general cringiness of the whole night.
All in all, fans seemed to be having a good time at DPR Live’s show. Even detractors couldn’t help but keep coming back: Three boys in the mezzanine tier repeatedly announced that they were going to leave and “go get bubble tea,” only to return to witness the spectacle. And when the haters come back for more, that’s when you know the show is live!
Contact Seiji Sakiyama at [email protected].