Saving the world with the ‘Avengers of K-Pop:” SuperM’s ‘We Are The Future: Live’

SuperM may end up becoming the super rookies of 2019 by the year's end.

Jacqueline Sumida

SuperM may end up becoming the super rookies of 2019 by the year’s end.

On Nov. 13 Byun Baekhyun and Lee Taemin broke my heart by dancing. In other words I got the chance to see the “Avengers of K-Pop,” otherwise known as SuperM, on its first-ever tour, “We Are The Future: Live.”

SuperM itself is a supergroup, no pun intended, taking members from four of K-Pop’s biggest boy groups and putting seven of them together on one stage. It’s a K-pop fan’s fever dream come to life, but I for one was a little skeptical at first.

At first glance SuperM seemed like a quick cash grab by its parent company, SM Entertainment, more than an actual group. The lineup messed with the schedules of EXO, NCT and WayV too much to work together, and I was concerned about the group’s chemistry and stage presence overall.

My nerves started to settle down as I walked into the United Center on that absolutely freezing November night. The stage itself was simple with two runways reaching off the main portion accompanied by the brightest stage lighting I’ve ever seen, but the lighting itself wasn’t what touched my soul.

In the K-Pop genre, groups and solo artists connect with their fans by using light sticks that help provide a bright, colorful atmosphere to the arena. In the case of this group, while they had their own lightstick, fans brought in lightsticks from all the other groups in which the members were a part. This crowd wasn’t just supporting the group on the stage but also reminding them they’ll be there no matter the group with which they perform.

With no opening act, the sound system started blaring the group’s first single, “Jopping,” right at 7 p.m., signaling that SuperM itself would soon be appearing. Fans started screaming, chanting the lyrics in both English and Korean as if they had known them their whole lives. From that moment I knew it was going to be an amazing time.

When the final notes ended, the stage got dark, and the metal M logo appeared on the screen. What followed was a VCR showcasing and introducing all of the boys one by one in futuristic situations dotted with slight metaphors to their tracklist. At every member another roar of applause came from the anxious crowd.

Suddenly, Taemin, Baekhyun, Kai, Lucas, Mark, Ten and Taeyong rose out of a descended platform in the middle of the stage to the furious waving of lightsticks and deafening screams. All of the boys, dressed in various greys and blacks, smoldered at the audience as the smoke from their stage danced around their bodies. Everything felt like it was suddenly in complete slow motion.

As they started their set with the killer b-side “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” I was immediately impressed with their choreography, highlighted by flowing gestures punctuated by sharp movements from whoever stood center. They effortlessly moved in tandem with each other, allowing each movement to bleed into the next without any hesitation. Near the end, the music took a turn, prompting each member to come out and give a 15 to 20-second dance solo.

When I say SuperM can dance, I mean SuperM can really, really dance.

After finishing up the opener, they left Taemin, Shinee’s maknae and overall impressive soloist, on stage alone to start “Danger,” a heavy synth track with elements from Shinee’s “Sherlock.” Taemin’s dancing and vocals are no joke, leaving me shocked by having even witnessed one of the second generation’s best idols. His style is very fluid and his actions seemingly effortless all the way around.

His second track “Goodbye” really showcased this ability in full, as it was 90% background vocals and 100% Taemin

Jacqueline Sumida
Taemin’s dancing style has been praised by critics and other idols alike for both it’s fluidity and beauty. He performed “Goodbye” alone on stage.

strutting around the stage while I screamed his name at the top of my lungs at least six times. Overall, a great time.

All of their solo stages were extremely impressive, as all of them were their own separate entities, not connected to each other at all. The number of songs varied on if that member had solo work or not, resulting in Taemin, Baekhyun and Ten having two songs instead of one.

Baekhyun’s stage was exactly what I expected from my EXO bias– vocal goals. Starting out with “Betcha” to let the crowd fall in love with his voice, Baekhyun showed that his vocal control is one of the best in the business. But he wasn’t done there.

When he transitions into his solo debut track “UN Village,” I felt my soul entirely leave my body as he softly crooned “Navigation to Dokseodang Children’s Park/Press start and step on the gas/To the place that only I knew.” Even with only a single microphone stand on an empty stage, EXO’s lead vocalist knew how to make an entrance and invite his audience to his own village.

From the other four members, they performed unreleased songs that really showed off their individual styles extremely well. Taeyong’s “GTA” showcased his incredible rapping skills alongside a more wild, less controlled dancing style. Kai’s sultry solo “Confession” was pure Kai, a stage lit up with red lights as if you were truly dancing with the devil with Kai himself shirtless per usual.

The member who ended up impressing me the most though was Lucas and his up-tempo solo “Bass Go Boom.” With the background screen decorated with bright colored cacti and Lucas himself goofing off, it made the stage more of a playground, miles away from the concept of SuperM itself. Most of the solo stages were a refreshing take away from the sleek, fast SuperM concept itself.

Jacqueline Sumida
Lucas of WayV and some amazing screen graphics really lit up the stage easily.

As a unit, SuperM’s chemistry is not at the same level as an established group, but that was expected due to the rushed nature of their promotions. When singing onstage as a group, each member stayed in their own world with maybe an interaction or two, mostly with a member from their own group. The music still sounded great.

“Super Car” and “2 Fast” ended up being my favorite songs in their short 90-minute set, where their expensive concept really came to life. Their choreography was fast yet powerful like they were literally whipping a Maserati down an open street. While “No Manners” set a slower tone, SuperM were able to go from zero to 100 real quick, but still, be able to cruise at a cool 30.

With only one six-song release under their belt, the debut of two new tracks “Dangerous Woman” and “With You” were no surprise. “Dangerous Woman” started out with the classic Ariana Grande opening line, but transformed into a more laid back, vocal-driven track spearheaded by Taemin and Kai. “With You” on the other hand, was extremely similar to the Red Velvet song of the same name, including a catchy chorus full of sweet love.

Even with all of the great singing, amazing dancing and fun energy; the most memorable part of the concert was when SuperM talked to the crowd. You could clearly tell that they were excited to be there. The smiles on their faces were unbelievable.

Both Taemin and Bakhyun apologized about the length of their set during their speeches, bringing them down to the level of an artist who just wants to perform forever. It was extremely touching the way that SuperM felt more human than other groups even with decades of experience, awards and tragedy behind them. I’m still shocked by how they announced that they didn’t believe that people would come and that they didn’t know how people would even respond to them.

It was all the anxiety and fear of a rookie group expressed by some of SM’s biggest names. It gave me a sense of compassion for the other rookie groups trying to be as successful as SuperM, for their feeling was almost the same and maybe even worse. It was touching honestly.

Jacqueline Sumida
SuperM was really interacting with the crowd, allowing them to hype each other up at the same time.

Overall, SuperM is a very performance heavy, fast group to watch. Their stage presence is astounding and along with the great music, made it an amazing night. SuperM wrapped up the first leg of their American tour Nov. 19, but they will finish it up in January after both the holidays and promotions for EXO’s Nov. 27 comeback, “Obsession.”

In the end, SuperM didn’t go “2 Fast” and instead kept me “Jopping” all night long.