On May 5, London-based indie-pop band PREP scared away the Sunday scaries during their sold-out Taipei concert. Huashan Creative Park — the area where the venue, Legacy Taipei, is situated — perfectly reflected the summer feeling PREP brought to the bustling metropolis. In the hours leading up to the show, people were eating, chatting with friends and family, and shopping while the band’s fans started to line up or buy merch. The weather, too, knew PREP were coming to town. As the sun began to set, the temperature was finally not too hot, not too cold. The cool breeze added the last ingredient to this perfect summer evening.  

The last time the four members — main vocalist Tom Havelock, keyboardist Llywelyn ap Myrddin, producer Dan Radclyffe, and drummer Guillaume Jambel — were in Taiwan was six years ago. This past Sunday, though, they were joined by opener James Alyn (former HYBS). PREP call their sound “marina pop” on their Spotify page, and their laid back yet rhythmic discography reflect this apt description. 

Taipei was also ready for all the marina pop vibes, as No. 10 on the band’s list of top streaming countries. From “Line By Line” to their cover of “As It Was,” PREP brought the summer feels to an excited and energetic Taipei crowd. 

The Fun Begins with James Alyn

“Are you down for it?” yelled opener James Alyn, a Thai-Singaporean singer-songwriter and a former one half of the band HYBS. His question was met with enthusiastic screams of affirmation, as he launched into his first song of the night. James brought the heat with his 30-minute-long set, starting with steady yet upbeat tracks such as “Satellite” and “Dancing with my phone.” 

Although his look for his show was simple — a white T-shirt tucked into light wash baggy jeans — James’ set was anything but. As he danced around the stage, often emphasizing the downbeats with a head bang or another sharp movement, audience members in every corner could see the shock of his dyed-red hair. Slim sunglasses perched on his nose added an extra touch of cool glamor. For some songs, James picked up the tambourine or the mini megaphone hanging from his mic stand to bring something extra to his set. 

Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.
Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.

The “Tip Toe” singer slowed it down with sexy R&B tracks like “Good Care” (accompanied by some fun hip movements). However, he still kept his easy-listening style alive, encouraging the crowd to sing and sway along. James Alyn paused for a moment in the middle of his set to speak with the audience: “Lí-hó!” he said, greeting his fans in Taiwanese. James added that tonight was “so good of a crowd” and “so fun,” noting the synergy he had with the Taipei audience, especially the front row. While this was only the third time James Alyn opened for PREP, the singer-songwriter honestly revealed that he was “still nervous.” Yet, he continued that he was also “still happy, still thrilled to be here.” 

And you could definitely tell that he was. For the last half of his set, James brought out his electric guitar. Serenading the crowd, he performed the stripped down ”Prettiest To Me” and the sunset beach stroll track “Ride” to close out his set. It was clear James wanted nothing less than perfect for his Taiwanese fans. When he played “Prettiest To Me,” for example, he executed the ending a couple of times to get it to be exactly as he wanted it to be. Sometimes the final “You are / The prettiest / To me” was a little too high; sometimes it wasn’t perfectly on pitch. But in the end, James found the prettiest note for “Prettiest To Me.” 

Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.
Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.

As James Alyn’s set came to a close, he shook his head so hard on the beat that his sunglasses flew right off his face. Talk about exclusive content! That wasn’t the only big moment in the last few minutes of the set, though. The usually easy-listening singer concluded with a new song of his called “Walk Out The Door.” He admitted that this track wasn’t even done yet, but he wanted to play for the crowd anyway. Through this song, James had a chance to display his admirable falsetto prowess — while on his knees, too. Cheers and singing along from the crowd also accompanied James when he dedicated time to shout out each member of his band. From there, he sang the last lyric of the song — “never wanna see you again” — and then with a salute, he was off. But, if the energy between James and the Taipei crowd was any indication, then we very much want to see James again.

Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.

Here Comes PREP — And the Summer Vibes

As the first few notes of “Line By Line” resonated throughout Legacy Taipei, the empty stage became bathed in red lighting. Soon after, the four members of PREP walked onto the stage, with vocalist Tom Havelock rounding out the band. Dressed in mostly neutrals and sneakers, PREP were as chill as their summertime-esque music. It was in that moment when those in the audience just wanted to soak in their music, the voices, and the energy of the people around them. 

Starting with “Line By Line” and its hooky flute bit, a few things were crystal clear: the mics and the instruments, for one, were incontestably on. (You could even hear the thump of the drums and the bass from outside if you were passing by.) Another thing was that the clear tenor voice of vocalist-lyricist Tom brought all of the pieces of PREP together. And lastly, the band was not stressed about perfection — although their concert was pretty dang perfect. In a recent press release, keyboardist Llywelyn revealed, “At one point we thought PREP would just be a studio project.” However, spending time in Asia and building a dedicated fan base across the continent proved to be an “important pivot” for the band and their sound. 

Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.

For the entirety of their one-and-a-half-hour Taipei set, PREP just leaned into their chill vibes and flowed along with their music. Even keyboardist Llywelyn’s pants fit the atmosphere with its cozy fit and bright pattern. This relaxed feeling was also seen throughout the crowd. Couples, friends, and even children came to see PREP that Sunday night. One fan really leaned into the beach vibes, as he wore a Hawaiian-printed shirt, shorts, and slides to go along with his energetic dance moves (fist pumping included). Some fans had drinks and phones in their hands; others bobbed their heads and swayed along to the rhythm of the songs; and more still also just took in the pure bright colors of the concert — both reflected in the lighting and music-wise. 

For the rest of the night, PREP took their fans through the different stages of life by the sea. Day time tracks including “Getaway,” which features Thai singer Phum Viphurit, were bright bursts of energy. Evening-esque tracks like “Years Don’t Lie” and “The Kid” were accompanied by sunset visuals on the screen behind the band. These songs reshaped the excitement of the crowd into something more mellow and calming, apt feelings for the end of a summer-like day. “Back To You” and “Who’s Got You Singing Again” transitioned the concert into nighttime, the shine of the moon and the stars reflecting these chill yet sentimental tracks. It was honestly too bad that it was a Sunday night, with many sighing sadly that they had work tomorrow and not a vacation to look forward to. 

Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.
Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.

Just like James Alyn teased his unreleased song, “Walk Out The Door,” PREP also teased a new track. Now out in the world, “Call It” featuring Eddie Chacon was released on May 7. But PREP gave their Taiwanese fans — along with their Korean and Thai fans — a taste of this groovy new song. The band added a little playfulness to “Call It,” especially in the chorus where they sing, “Are you ready to call it?” with an electronic element following soon after. 

Other concert highlights included “15th Floor” from their 2022 single album of the same name. From the catchy, upbeat rhythm to the cameo from Kuo Kuo, the vocalist of the Taiwanese band Sunset Rollercoaster, “15th Floor” was a shot of unfiltered fun. On the opposite side of the energy spectrum, Tom sat down at the piano for a solo moment. As a spotlight shined down on him, this slower and almost mournful version of “Carrie” was just deep piano chords and his voice. Compared to the usually vibrant and colorful music of PREP, these few minutes were stripped down to express the song’s very emotional core. The crowd, too, was captivated by this stark vulnerability and stayed silent until Tom quietly said, “Thank you.” 

Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.
Photo courtesy of Sara Conway..

Escape Life For A Little While With PREP

This solemn part of PREP’s show was but only for a moment. In no time, the band were calling to the audience, “How’re you guys doing?” After being met with enthusiastic cheers and shouting out their opening act, the spark was coursing through Legacy Taipei again. And PREP were back with more of their upbeat songs, reflecting the liveliness of summer night parties on the beach. As the audience clapped along to the opening of “Don’t Bring Me Down,” this vocal pause really allowed the instruments — and the musicians behind them — to shine.  

But all good things have to end eventually. When the show began to wrap up, Tom shared a few words with the band’s fans. “Thank you so much. I don’t know what to say,” he said, his British accent adding warmth to his thoughts. “I wish we could play all night,” added Tom as he continued to say, “I’m so glad to come back.” 

With moon and stars in the background, PREP concluded with slow and steady vibes. First up? Their popular “As It Was” cover, which featured a stronger bass presence and a live flute line. “Who’s Got You Singing Again,” the final track on the band’s first EP titled Futures, and its lovely rush of harmony paved the sentimental way for PREP to say their thank you’s (and in Mandarin, too). 

Photo courtesy of Sara Conway.

But when the band members immediately walked off the stage following “Who’s Got You Singing Again,” the crowd knew it wasn’t over quite yet. Soon the venue was filled with people crying, “Encore! Encore!” And, of course, there was an encore — because was it really going to end like that? Not if PREP have it their way. “We don’t really want to leave,” said Tom, the very first thing out of his month when he walked back to the center of the stage. 

Daytime was breaking again as PREP played their final two songs (for real, this time). Golden yellows and rusty oranges were paired with the plane graphics flying on the backdrop behind the band. We have reached a new day with PREP. Despite the light beat of “Cheapest Flight,” the last song, the crowd singing together while waving their arms back and forth emphasized just how special PREP are to their fans. But as you could see and hear, Taipei is so ready for PREP to return — and, of course, to also bring summer with them yet again. 

Even More on the Horizon

But that’s not all for PREP and James Alyn. Following their Taipei show, the third concert of their Asia tour, PREP will make more stops in Southeast Asia. After performing in Manila, Philippines; Singapore; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, PREP will hold two shows in China in mid-May. (James Alyn joined the band for their Bangkok and Taipei shows.) 

Plus, following PREP’s Taipei concert, the band released a preview of their new single “Call It” featuring Eddie Chacon. Alongside the track, which is out now, PREP announced their upcoming album set to be released on June 7, titled The Programme

The 10-track album will feature PREP’s single with Thai singer-songwriter Phum Viphurit, “Getaway,” as well as a new song with indie-pop artist Vicky Farewell. PREP shared in a press release, “We’ve had an extraordinary year, traveling all over the world, gathering ideas, searching out new people we wanted to collaborate with, and this record really tells the story of all of that.” Despite having a number of collaborators on this upcoming record, the band added, “At the same time this feels like a record that, more than anything we’ve put out so far, is the sound of the four of us, playing in a room together.”

If all this news isn’t exciting enough, PREP is prepping (pun intended) for their upcoming Europe tour. Their first stop will be Amsterdam on June 11 with this leg concluding in London — where they are based — on June 18. So, look out world! PREP is here. 

Keep up with PREP on YouTube, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and Facebook. Find James Alyn on Instagram, YouTube, and X. For more information about PREP’s tour schedule, head to PREP’s website here

Want more concert recaps? Check out EnVi’s article on K-pop group ONEUS’s latest concert in L.A. here!