2020 for Eric Nam, like most of us, was cut short before it even had a chance to begin. Amid his first world tour, Before We Begin, the looming pandemic forced Nam to cut his journey short. The Korean-American singer had to cancel the Latin American leg of his tour and two shows in Los Angeles.
Since then, Nam has had his hands dipped in pretty much everything. Avoiding the dull emptiness of the pandemic, he provided quality content (through multiple mediums) for his loving fans, Nam Nation. However, as much as he loves podcasting, YouTube-ing, and texting his fans, nothing quenches his thirst for human contact like standing on stage, performing for thousands.
There And Back Again: A New Beginning
Promoting his latest EP, There And Back Again, Nam makes the tour a second home for him and his fans. The sold-out show in wintery Chicago feels more like an intimate session among friends instead of a 1,400-seater theater. At times, it’s comforting and familiar, and other times, it’s even more spectacular than you could’ve dreamt.
“If you’re anything like me, then this probably feels a little awkward,” Nam said to the crowd. After his first tour in two years, the singer addressed the elephant in the room: concerts feel somewhat foreign now after two years of quarantine. Whether it was someone’s first concert or their third, it’s a feeling everyone needed a moment to get used to.
But if you’re a regular at Nam’s previous shows, you’d know his sets are pretty minimalistic, albeit a beautiful experience. He’d have the stage to himself and his four lively dancers, with nothing but colorful lights and a backing track. Well, as of late last year, Nam’s decided to up the ante. This time, he includes an entire band to his set and is only supported by two of his original dancers.
From the get-go, everything just feels right as Nam opens the show with “Any Other Way,” an airy soft-pop song that’s welcomed with deafening screams instantly. And it was then that this show would prove to be ten times as magical as the ones before. Each note and bang of the drums provides a little bit of emotional healing.
This Is Not A Concert, It’s a TED Talk
Another aspect of Eric Nam’s tours that’s become synonymous with the singer is his infamous “TED Talks.” This tradition started in 2018 with his Honestly Tour. Since then, Nam always sets some time between his dance-cry numbers for a quick, meaningful, and humorous chat with fans. He’s talked about his parents, his upbringing, his journey from Atlanta to Korea, and so on. While Nam is heavily tied to the K-pop industry for his endeavors in Korea, some may not know his story.
Over the last few years, Nam’s sound has evolved in ways that are more Western pop than Korean—an intentional and notable decision. (2020’s “Paradise” had the most “K-pop” sounding structure of his more recent releases). Many listeners have witnessed this transition in real-time, but Nam is aware not everyone discovered him through the same circumstances. “For the people who may not know I’m Korean, surprise,” he announced with a knowing grin.
Although he usually sticks to one theme, this concert’s “TED Talk” had more diverse topics. He reacted to fans’ dirty signs (which he respectfully declined to read aloud) and teased fans’ Korean skills. “Remember ‘This Is Not A Love Song’?” he playfully recalled from his first show in the Windy City. And as a lovable entertainer, Nam continues his tradition of personalizing “Happy Birthday” to as many fans as he can.
hongjoong to chicago: your korean is so good! i can hear you sing all the songs
eric nam to chicago: you guys said you knew all the words two years ago but you lied. i know your tricks. you sing the english parts really loud and then just mumble.
— yeonjun's irl bff | SAW ERIC NAM (@EB0YSANNIE) February 13, 2022
It’s this personable side of him that makes you feel as if you’ve known him forever. Nam’s ability to connect with his audience is one of the most natural interactions an artist can have. It’s no wonder he does it with such ease.
A Few Familiar Faces
In a roughly 90-minute show, Nam held a show filled with cheers, happy tears, and a lot of body rolling. As he danced his way into tracks like “Don’t Call Me,” and “Down For You,” a couple of familiar faces joined the mix, much to fans’ excitement.
Dancers Tristan Edpao and Pauler Lam strolled out every so often to join Nam in full-out choreography. As Nam weaved in between choreography and singing, Edpao and Lam handled the more intricate and explosive moves. Since joining the crew in 2018, both dancers have added another fun layer to the show, bringing copious amounts of flair and playfulness to each track. The pair have even gained quite the following over the last few years, with several fans recognizing and supporting them from city to city.
Edpao and Lam not only have sharp moves but also the ultimate swagger and stage presence that shines in its own right. These result in fans cheering them on as much as they do Nam. With a dangerous combination of charisma and talent, it’s only right for them to amass their own dedicated fan club.
Tristan and Pauler back on tour with Eric Nam bless up I’m so excited
— 앨리 ◡̈ (@alliesdaydream) January 26, 2022
— 5 YEARS W MY BESTIE (@retrohuism) February 13, 2022
A Show You’ll Never Forget
Among various captivating moments, other standouts included: “Paradise,” a summertime spectacle that U.S. fans had yet to see live until this year; “Lost On Me,” the bittersweet lead single off There And Back Again; and of course, “Honestly,” a fan-favorite since its release in 2018. Through a blend of lovesick ballads and uptempo beats, the stage is set ablaze with a rainbow of lighting effects. From the stunning hot pink of “Love Die Young” to the Crayola-inspired lighting of “Congratulations,” each track is given its visual spark of creativity.
And as Nam closes the show, decked out in his own merchandise, “I Don’t Know You Anymore” feels just as cleansing as the note he started on. “You could’ve done anything tonight, but you’re here, and you chose to be here.” He said as he thanked Nam Nation. “And you guys being here helps people—who look like me—dream to do this, so thank you so much for showing up.”
So, if you’ve ever thought about attending an Eric Nam show but weren’t sure: buy the ticket if you can. It’s the catharsis, the running jokes, and the electrifying energy that seeps into your veins long after the show ends. Nam brings it all to the table and somehow leaves you wanting more—so is the thirst ever fully quenched?
Tickets to Eric Nam’s 2022 world tour are still available in select cities, so be sure to click here for more information.
Want more Eric Nam? Check out our review of his sophomore EP here!