The crisp Los Angeles air crackles with electricity as Eric Nam walks out the main doors of the historic Wiltern Theater. The marquee displays his name as he is set to perform a sold out show. A buzz slowly turns into a humm and chatter as his fans gather to see him take a stroll onto the busy crosswalk to capture the moment of his name atop the venue, marking his triumphant return to Los Angeles in 2 years.
It’s been a long and sometimes torturous wait for all music and lovers of live shows as things return to a new normal in the current ongoing pandemic life. Just about 11 months ago Eric Nam was one of many artist’s affected by the world coming to halt as theaters turned off their lights and closed the doors for what was to be a year long wait. The 32 year old Korean-American singer was just about to close out his Before We Begin tour at The Regent Theater in March of 2020 when he was forced to postpone and eventually cancel the last date, brining a sense of unfinished closure to his tour. Los Angeles fans had not seen him perform locally since The Fonda theater in 2018, and having waited 2 years they would eventually be forced to wait 2 more.
Fast forward to January 29, 2022 and Eric Nam was once again setting foot in LA, but this time on his own terms. Promoting his first self produced album after leaving his label, Stone Music Entertainment, Nam is turning things up a notch as he “reinvents” his sound from the “K pop” sound fans know and love and putting a new twist to his style. The fourth date of his World Tour has brought him to a sold out show at The Wiltern, a venue the Atlanta native set his sights on as he began his career many years ago.
The walls of the hall vibrated with expectation as the lights dimmed and the live band began to play, a familiar whistle melody filled the air and the crowd erupted into screams as Eric Nam took the stage with “Any Other Way” from his latest album, There and Back Again. Exuding classic chic in a mint shimmering green suit jacket and white slacks, Nam captured everyone’s attention from this first shake of his hips to the last few song whistles.
The hour and a half long set consisted of the perfect mix of old and new. Switching things up from songs off his second full English album, “What If,” “Lost On Me,” the squeal inducing “Down for You” and throwing it back to hits like “Don’t Call Me,” the Korean version of “Runaway,” and fan favorite “Paradise,” Eric Nam showed off his showmanship as he effortlessly danced his way through song after song making sure to engage with fans along the way. The rapport between him and Nam Nation was apparent in the banter back and forth between songs as he called them out for the ridiculously obscene posters they had to singing happy birthday to a handful of lucky few. He knows how thirsty his fans are and does not shy away from it one bit but embraces it as he puts his spin on the inside jokes between them.
One of the many highlights of the night was the brief acoustic set that showcased his vocals as he did run after run and riff after riff of slower ballads like “”Good for You” and a snippet of “Wonder.” He followed them with the gut wrenching and soulful “Admit” where his vocals rang out crystal clear at The Wiltern. Eric Nam turned the heat back up with “You”re Sexy, I’m Sexy” and got the crowd dancing along to the Korean version of “Honestly” and breakup anthem “Congratulations.” After a quick change into his tour themed hoodie, he returned to close out the show with “Love Die Young” and “I Don’t Know You Anymore” the lead single off of There and Back Again.
Eric Nam has an aura that subtly emphasizes the nine years of experience he has within the industry. Easily known as one of the hardest working men he is not only a singer and songwriter but also an MC, actor and producer. In 2019 he launched the immensely popular Podcast “Kpop Daebak With Eric Nam” and followed it up with “I Think You’re Dope With Eric Nam” which lead to the creation of DIVE studios co-founded with his brothers. The platform has now grown to host multiple shows that stream on YouTube and Apple Music/Spotify as well as the creation of MINDSET which focuses on normalizing the celebrity life as fans can hear first hand stories from their favorite artists.
Sometimes referred to as “the Korean version” of Harry Styles or Bruno Mars, it is important to note that Eric Nam is not the Korean version of anything, he is the version of himself he’s worked on for years. His talent speaks for itself and Eric Nam is just…Eric Nam, proud Korean-American who is using his platform and personal struggles to success to shine a light on the talent and struggles of the Asian community. Something his longtime fans admire and love him for as was apparent by the shouts of joy and smiles hidden behind face masks. There and Back Again marks a new beginning for Eric Nam and we cannot wait to see where this new road will take him.