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Concert Review: Yaeji at Brooklyn Steel
by Cherin Kim

In celebration of her return with the long-awaited debut album With a Hammer, Korean American DJ, producer, and singer Yaeji embarked on a twenty-four-night-long North America tour. After running through her longest of tours yet, Yaeji finally reached the first of two sold-out nights at Brooklyn Steel.

Montréal artist Ouri ignited the evening by gracing early birds with a performance driven by the layers of her eclectic musical history. The classically-trained musician captivated by electronica effortlessly entranced the slowly growing crowd as she introduced her ambient yet pulsing sounds of melodic synths and colorful beats. Under the dim bouncing lights, Ouri's swaying motions flickered in and out of darkness, as though dancing with her light vocals, rich strings of orchestral fluidity, and heady textures. The soothing momentum mellowed out the crowd, preparing them for what was to come.

Sure enough, anticipation enveloped the relaxed bodies; with no delay, the stage dimmed and the glow of red arose on the screen. Yaeji opened with "Submerge FM," her light but grounded voice swimming with the warm hues behind her. She sang as she interlocked eyes with the audience and reached out from the stage in bubblegum pink energy. In no time, the crowd grooved along, bobbing their heads and waving their arms in synchronization. "One, one, one, one, one day, adds to one week, one month..."

Yaeji's "For Granted" followed up; filled with resonated lyrics in her distinctive voice, the song journeys through a multitude of soundscapes, eventually culminating into a drum and bass collapse. The track embodies breakcore and house as she masterfully mixes it with bubbly notes and silvery hums, a refreshing and bold reminder of Yaeji's individual range. Continuing on with classics such as "29" and "Raingurl," the set was nothing short of her rich musicality. As a longtime fan of OHHYUK who produced "29" with Yaeji, and with "Raingurl" being the addictive house hit that it is, both were especially a treat for me. They evoked a high of energy and confidence, intoxicating the packed venue to release all inhibitions and jump along in bliss.

Yaeji emitted unparalleled energy throughout the entire set, performing various choreos beside her 2 backup dancers who extended into the synths and hammered at the beats. She moved playfully and confidently while interweaving the Korean and English language, displaying full command of a diverse crowd enamored by her infectious spirit. With interactive projections of music video scenes and interludes of her face illuminating the stage, it was a set brimming with alluring detail. Surrounded by these visuals, she pranced around with a hammer prop in hand, as seen on the album cover, animating it as Nourished by Time who sings in the track "Happy." From start to finish, fans couldn't help but watch in awe of Yaeji's cool charm and control.

At the introduction of her set, Yaeji prefaced that this hometown show would be different from any show she's done before. Gratitude and intimacy encapsulated the end as she gave credit to her team who helped make the show come alive and shared realizations from childhood reflections that drove the album. "By transmuting lingering feelings of suppressed anger into happiness and channeling it into my passion for creating music, I was able to process and understand myself in ways I previously couldn't," she said. With a Hammer emphatically personifies this unearthing of her internal mind.

To learn more, stream music, and find shows, visit Yaeji's website

Check out The Core's Instagram @thecorefm to stay tuned for more amazing photography from this show!