Day6 might be headlining the 5,000-cap O2 Academy Brixton for their second-ever show in London, but the Korean rock group treat it as if it’s a cavernous stadium and they’re its kings. Anticipation-building intro videos play across the giant screen at the back of the stage, introducing the members in a flash of colourful, dynamic graphics.
Wonpil, Young K, Dowoon, Sungjin and Jae’s faces elicit eardrum-bursting cheers. They draw out the sense of theatre further still, entering the stage one-by-one and then, when they’re all present and correct, immediately geeing up the already animated audience.
- Read more: Day6 – ‘The Book Of Us: Gravity’ EP review
“London, how you feeling tonight?” singer/guitarist Jae bellows in his Californian drawl. “We’ve been waiting a long time to be back. Tonight will be beautiful if you want it to be.”
He’s not wrong. There are many beautiful things about the Day6 experience, not least the way in which this English crowd sing back every word – Korean or otherwise. And then there’s the fact that each member looks as if they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world as they bounce through the vibrant pop-rock off ‘Sing Me’ or the pop-punk anthemics of ‘Somehow’.
The band find a way for each member to indulge in individual solo jams without it feeling like filler or stunting the night’s momentum. “Drum and bass, baby!” bassist Young K shouts gleefully after he and Dowoon tag-team their solos, while keyboard player Wonpil first builds himself an EDM beat on his MPC, before adding a one-handed piano solo over the top.
Watching Day6 live is like being hooked up to a super-fast-acting serotonin drip. It’s impossible to not be swept along by Jae’s excitable, puppyish persona as he leaps around his side of the stage and acts as Day6’s resident hype man throughout. They load their mood-making with powerful messages too, offering those present a space to let go.
“We have only one rule for tonight,” Jae says after the zippy ‘Time Of Our Life’. “Put all your distractions and worries on the floor right now. Tonight is all about you.”
Day6 offer healing in many ways. You can mosh out your frustrations to the My Chemical Romance-style pogo of ‘Sweet Chaos’ or the powerful ‘80s-tinged riffs of ‘Deep In Love’, the only songs on the setlist from their latest album, ‘The Book Of Us: Entropy’. You can feel good with their mash-up section, in which they somehow make Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ palatable and meld their tropical 2016 track ‘Blood’ with Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ (featuring a vocal turn from drummer Dowoon, whose mic is unfortunately too quiet to give him the moment he deserves tonight). You can even go on a day trip with Day6 in a pre-recorded VCR that follows them on a bus trip to a space centre (this is the Gravity tour, after all), via snack stops and road games.
At the end of the show, they offer verbal comfort that ranges from sweet to fired-up inspiration. After an emotional ‘You Were Beautiful’ (during which glitter falls from the stage’s ceiling) and a fan-led version of ‘Congratulations’, each member shares their thoughts with the crowd.
“The reason we come here is because we want you to be happy, even after this night,” Young K says. “It’s not easy, right? But that’s why we’re here – to make you guys feel better.” Guitarist Sungjin echoes his statement, promising: “When things are tough… we’ll be there.”
It’s Jae who delivers the night’s most passionate speech, though, prefacing it with an apologetic disclaimer that it’s coming from “the almost-30 side of me – the cringey, nagging side of me”. He continues: “I’ve been finding myself in kind of a dark place – not so much recently,. Nights like these really fill my heart and really make me want to live my best life. Nights like these make me really want to go on and just really, really try my best. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes the vocals aren’t the greatest and the guitars aren’t the greatest, but the energy’s all right, right?”
You can tell he’s not just talking about the ego boost of being an artist seeing people enjoying your work. It’s deeper than that – the power of music and community and using them to confront your feelings, however dark they might be.
He has some valuable advice for those who’ve come out to do that with Day6 tonight too: “Do what you wanna do and just know that there are gonna be struggles in life. Life isn’t always easy. The things you want the most or are most important to you – life will just relentlessly hold on to and won’t give to you. But once you start swiping at it and working at it, it ends up giving up and giving it to you. It doesn’t matter what anybody says. Some people are like, ‘You gotta be normal, you can’t do it this way’. Forget them, who cares! You’re you and they are them. You live your own life.”
It’s a powerful statement reinforced by the sentiment of the band’s final two songs, the unrelenting pep of ‘Dance Dance’, which declares in its first verse “I don’t care what others say, my way”, and the dance-pop bounce of ‘Freely’, which focuses on focusing on enjoying the moment rather than worrying about tomorrow.
The latter ends with Jae jumping about on the barrier as two canons shoot white confetti high into the air and Young K holds his bass triumphantly over his head. It’s a blisteringly joyous finale to a buoyant night, and one last administration of Day6’s own happiness shot, one that’s strong enough to last until they next conquer London.
‘Time Of Our Life’
‘Out Of My Mind’
‘How To Love’
‘Wanna Go Back’
‘Like That Sun’/‘Shape Of You’
‘Days Gone By’/‘Treasure’
‘I Need Somebody’
‘Deep In Love’
‘You Were Beautiful’