Across the Board Art Culture Stories

JUNNY kicks off “blanc” US tour at NYC’s LPR to excited fans

(Photos taken by Caitlin Chien)

After visiting Brooklyn last year, JUNNY returned to New York on February 21, 2023 with a longer setlist at (Le) Poisson Rouge (LPR) in Greenwich Village. Accompanied by DJ Minjeong, the Vancouver native, Seoul-based K-RnB artist performed a total of 21 songs, including acapella snippets and an encore. Contrasting the pristine white of his tour flyer, JUNNY sang illuminated in red, blue, and purple lighting against dynamic, almost-psychedelic backdrops. Though fans quieted down when instructed, they certainly carried their energy throughout with enthusiastic arm waves and finish-the-heart hand gestures. Thanks to LPR’s venue setup, the performers were all able to show a lot of personal audience interaction, to the delight of their devoted fans.

Opening first for JUNNY was “Asian Rapunzel” TikToker Irene Wong (@hty.04) with “Cross My Mind,” a collaboration track with SeoulFly. Despite her nerves, Irene showed off her sweet voice with covers of Korean, Chinese, and English songs, including the Big Fish and Begonia OST– a sad song, “so yeah, everybody be sad”– then ending the set by sharing a fist bump with her DJ.

Next came Japanese singer-songwriter RIRI (@riri_tone) and dancer/DJ Minjeong (@djminjeong) with “That’s My Baby,” showcasing powerful vocals and energy. In addition to several other original songs, she also performed a Japanese version of “Stay,” which producer Zedd had personally reached out to her for. RIRI’s penultimate act was her new single “I Need U,” a song about relying on someone else when times get tough, which she hopes women trying to make it on their own can relate to. DJ Minjeong performed a mix of songs, blending “Finesse” into “Hype Boy” and others, then lastly wowing the crowd with her popping dance skills. 

At around 8:00 PM, DJ Minjeong introduced JUNNY onstage to screaming fans against a magenta-tinted backdrop of dancing chrome silhouettes. Wearing a denim vest with “STRANGE” written across the back and baggy pants ripped horizontally in the middle– the artist launched into his opening song “Color Me,” an RnB/retro pop blend originally performed as a duet with Chung Ha. After responding to the crowd’s warm welcome, JUNNY directed them to clap on beat, leading into “Obvious.” 

After a quick water break, JUNNY greeted New York City and thanked the crowd for coming out on a Tuesday night. Next was his recently released title song; JUNNY prefaced it by asking fans to chant “not about you.” For demonstration purposes, he sang the line acapella. As it turned out, his audience had already come prepared– not only did they chant along as instructed, but also screamed in unison, “cause, baby, you’re so delusional.” “You guys are insane tonight,” JUNNY said, to which his fans reacted with more screaming and even barking. He danced in response. 

In between the melody of “Mugshot” and the rap in “AURA,” JUNNY kept the energy high by yelling for New York City to “make some fucking noise” and taking selfies on fans’ phones. He encouraged the audience to sing Jay B’s part in the next song, in his first time performing “FAME” without the South Korean singer and actor (“shoutout to Jay B!”). 

JUNNY gave fans an exclusive preview of the runs and high notes of his unreleased song “Invitation.” He then stumbled backward into moon-backdropped “EARLY,” whisper-singing the lyrics into his mic. The next song, scheduled to release next month, had a film-like, scrolling highway backdrop. DJ Minjeong accompanied JUNNY’s voice with DJ airhorns and her own excited bouncing as she vibed to the song. 

For his next act, JUNNY brought out the mic stand with a comment on his attire: the denim didn’t really suit slower songs. Still, he transitioned into “By My Side” without instrumentals and did finger hearts at fans while singing “just know you’re part of me.” DJ Minjeong muted the instrumental for JUNNY’s high note, eliciting impressed cheers from the crowd. “You guys are much much better singers than me,” he said at the end of the song. “You should be up here.” He then circled back to “nostalgia.” 

After “MOVIE” (my personal favorite song), JUNNY serenaded the center crowd with another duet, “sober,” stepping away from the mic during YOUHA’s lines as her voice flowed through the speakers. 

JUNNY then received a gift bag from a fan, opening it to reveal a painting of his cat Leo and a custom-designed hoodie. “I’m gonna pass out,” the fan said, before revealing the research she had done on the design. “It may be full, but it’s not finished,” just like JUNNY’s musical journey. As thanks, JUNNY wished her a belated happy birthday and asked if she had any song requests; since she was graduating this year, he sang a few lines from “Graduation,” which he’d written for k-pop group NCT Dream. “I’m so scared I might forget the lyrics,” he joked. (Spoiler alert: he didn’t.) 

Re-energized, the crowd sang along to “solo,” to which JUNNY said, “Wow, why do you guys know this song, too?” After a fan asked if he liked older women (“this is turning into a standup comedy show”), JUNNY received another custom gift: a hand-knit beanie. He then sprawled across the stage for a group photo as a fan counted in Korean: “hana, dul, set!” Between “Distance” and “Trust,” JUNNY took another fan’s BeReal, greeted fans who’d trekked to see him from all over the continent– from Calgary to Minnesota, DC, and San Fransisco. 

“Who wants to get sexy with me?” JUNNY then yelled, shedding his denim jacket. “Say” was a sultrier song with plenty of high notes, which he paired with body rolls towards different parts of the crowd. Despite being over an hour into the show, his audience didn’t lose their enthusiasm. JUNNY tossed his water bottle cap across the stage in “Zone,” then splashed the water in an arc at the surrounding fans. He repeated this twice going into “For the Weekend,” getting different parts of the crowd to sing along: “cause I be living for the weekend.” 

“This is a dream. Last song, air quotes,” he said for “OH!!”– last song of the album, but perhaps not the whole show. It was a song quite personal to JUNNY, fitting for the second to last on his setlist. For his actual last song, JUNNY sang “Thank You,” singing his thanks to his audience “for today, tomorrow, yesterday; every day and night.” After his thank you’s, the artist was escorted backstage. 

But the crowd still wasn’t satisfied, and JUNNY soon returned to the stage for an encore after a quick cover of New York City’s favorite “Empire State of Mind.” He ended the show by ensuring fans that he’d make sure to give out autographs to everyone and posing for another group photo. 

JUNNY’s constant presence and dedication to his fans transformed a simple stage with just the basics– a microphone, speakers, turntables, and projector– into a smooth concert experience. Though the only outfit “change” was removing his vest, JUNNY didn’t falter in showing his fans what they wanted, sprinkling plenty of audience interaction throughout the night. Since I hadn’t seen the setlist until after the concert ended, I thought he’d performed not one, but two encores, a testament to how much his fans loved seeing him on stage. There is no doubt that some of the luckier fans in the audience will be seeing him again in different cities on the same tour.

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