Concert Review – San E, Mad Clown and Sobae at Grog Shop

Written by on May 27, 2018

It was 2015 when I rediscovered my love for Korean music and realized that some Korean artists actually tour the U.S pretty often. It was also 2015 when I realized that none of them ever step foot in Ohio, only visiting the most well-known and populated cities such as LA, New York and Chicago. Given that knowledge, you can imagine just how shocked I was to find out two of my favorite rappers from South Korea, San E and Mad Clown, would actually perform in TWO Ohio cities on their first U.S tour. Opening the show, was R&B Korean-American singer Sobae who promoted her latest single, “Homegirl” while on tour with the dynamic duo.

I had the privilege of seeing them twice on their 18-city “We Want You Tour” and can honestly say that both experiences were wildly different and beyond thrilling. The first show was held in the intimate setting of University. And before you ask, yes it was worth every second. But for now, I’ll only be focusing on the Grog Shop performance.

As a fan of both Mad Clown and San E prior to this tour, I already knew these guys had great chemistry and would give the crowd an amazing show, but it was such a sight to see in person, especially the bickering moments that would usually end in hugs and laughter from both rappers. The first song on their set was “Sour Grapes”, a collaboration track that blew up the charts in 2015. After their intros, Mad Clown exited the stage to let San E take the first set and perform a string of individual songs that included hits like “Body Language”, “Me You” and “LoveSick”, in which he serenaded one lucky lady and made her feel special for the night. While most of San E’s set was equally as hype as his personality, Mad Clown’s set was more on the chill side of the spectrum, with the exception of songs like “Bad Blood” and “Stalker Flip Side Story”.

Seeing the contrast between both artists, personally and musically, was one the most fascinating aspects of the night. Although Mad Clown can spit some of the the hardest rhymes in the game, he’s seen as more of the shy and awkward type in real life–a trait that makes him even more lovable every time. But don’t let that cute face fool you, he’s still low-key savage through his lyrics.

San E, on the other hand, is very much a crowd-pleaser and never takes himself too seriously. He’ll be the first to crack a joke and put himself out there, most likely due to his many experiences as a host for shows like Unpretty Rapstar. His raps vary from quirky to seductive, and even take on clever wordplay like it’s a walk in the park. By the end of the night, there were countless of stories from friends and other attendees who came for one rapper, but also ended up falling in love with the other, as well. A few highlight moments that quite literally knocked me off my feet, were San E’s performance of “M.I.L.E (Make It Look Easy) and short dance cover to Momoland’s “Bboom Bboom”, as well as finally hearing Mad Clown’s white hot verse from “Battlecry” –in which he shot at rapid fire with no music. Props, my dude.

The only thing that would’ve made the show even better, is if San E had performed more tracks from his most recent albums, “Seasons of Suffering” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

As for Sobae, she held her own as the only woman on tour and meshed perfectly with the guys as performed with San E and Mad Clown for the songs that required a female singer, such as “Stupid in Love” and “Me You”. After speaking with her during my interview with the three artists, Sobae explained that she wanted to write an anthem for all the women holding it down and still looking fly, hence her single, “Homegirl”. The entire crowd was definitely vibing to the song and showed much love to Sobae as she knocked her performance out the park.   

Sadly, all good things come to an end and for this show, the end meant finally rocking to Mad Clown and San E’s newest collaboration, “Butterfly”. The pair decided to make a deal with the audience: whoever could accurately sing and dance the chorus, would be win a free promo CD for “Butterfly” –which can’t be found anywhere else– and San E’s hat, which he took right off of his head and signed for one lucky winner. I was not one of those lucky people, but the smiles on the fans’ faces who did win, were magical and made their night. Mad Clown even took the extra mile and shook each person’s hand, looked them right in the eyes, and thanked them for coming. This might’ve seemed like a small gesture to some, but I was truly flustered by how considerate and genuine it was and made more of an impact than he probably realized.

Not only were Mad Clown, San E and Sobae some of the most humble artists I’ve met, but they also had the kindest team surrounding them. DJ Juice was very friendly when fans would approach him and even their stylist happily took selfies with me and a friend after the show. I spoke with San E’s manager and brother, Hyun, during both the Cleveland and Miami University shows and he mentioned how exciting the tour has been for them. Although they had a show almost every night in a new city, the exhaustion took a back seat when it the time came to give fans the show they’ve been waiting for. It was refreshing to see just how much they love what they do.

All three artists were stunned after hearing that they were the first Korean artists to hold a concert in Ohio. San E assured fans that they loved every minute of performing in Cleveland and vowed that when he returns to Korea, he’ll let his friends and other artists know that Ohio is the place to be. And since this month-long tour has officially come to an end, one can only hope that this is just the beginning of K-pop and K-hip hop’s venture into Northeast Ohio.

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