P1Harmony’s “P1ONEER” Chicago Concert Review
This remarkable group surpassed expectations in surprising ways.
In under three hours, viewers with no prior knowledge of P1Harmony could have watched the “P1ONEER” show and walked away feeling like they understood the group’s multifaceted image and appeal clearly. The group’s array of skills, sweet moments with fans, and show structure all played a role in proving their likability and the worthwhileness of the hype.
The Show’s Format
One of the most impressive aspects of the show was its pacing. The two-and-a-half-hour-long show flew by, but not at the expense of cultivating a special atmosphere. Rather than feeling rushed to get the show done with, the show’s fast feel seemed to be about being too excited to wait for what came next! In other words, P1Harmony quickly went from one segment to the next not with a “Let’s get this over with” attitude, but with an “I can’t wait to show you what else we have in store!” one!
The show started off with a drama-building video. After a cryptic warning appeared on the screen, a color-changing sun and flames appeared, and these images felt more real thanks to bursts of smoke emitted near the front of the stage. The members stepped onto the stage as soon as the video concluded, and they jumped into three back-to-back performances without a moment to spare. Dressed to impress in embellished blazers, they got in the zone immediately with mesmerizingly synchronized choreography. They approached “Look At Me Now,” “Back Down,” and “Scared” with maximum enthusiasm and ferocity. “Scared” got an extra special twist with SOUL’s breakdancing.
Another benefit to the viewing experience was the lack of low-energy tracks. P1Harmony celebrated tracks from a variety of past releases but kept continuity energy-wise, opting for fast-paced fun far more often than mellower songs.
The show was broken down into segments by periods of talking with the audience and video intermissions. This prevented any part of the show from feeling like it dragged on too long. While there is much to appreciate about K-pop shows where artists power through song after song without interruption, P1Harmony made the case for appreciating a show with more pauses in the flow. There was no chance of thinking the members were just going through the motions; they mentally showed up throughout the night to ensure the show was still engaging.
The video intermissions further made the case for a show focused on variety over thematic continuity, the first one being a comical sketch and the second one being a lovely performance video. The members proved to have versatile charms even when not on the stage!
Shining Both Solo and Together
The show’s swiftness was partly thanks to the engaging stage presence each individual member had; they all had tricks up their sleeves that prevented any dull moments.
THEO’s was the first in a string of stellar solo and unit stages. Backed by a blinking rainbow of lights and dressed in a chic, black ensemble, he proved to be a smooth and stylish crooner. He covered DEAN’s “21” in a way that showed off his unique vocal color while staying loyal to the song’s original vibe.
Next was SOUL’s solo stage. Subverting expectations, he proved to have vocal chops that match his dancing ones with a beautiful rendition of “Hug Me” by JOONIL JUNG.
After a confident bit of Beyoncé’s “Deja Vu,” KEEHO made way for JIUNG to come front and center. JIUNG did not miss a beat as he showed off fancy footwork, and further eye-catching was the use of spotlights. After they converged on him, they spread apart and triggered a starry explosion on the main screen. The dazzling display suited the funky vibe of JIUNG, SOUL, and KEEHO’s performance of Michael Jackson’s “Love Never Felt So Good.”
Lastly, rappers INTAK and JONGSEOB teamed up and channeled their inner actors. Like the starry background screen, the rap duo found a way to do a lot with a little in terms of visual aids. They sat across from each other in glow-in-the-dark chairs and spit bars back and forth. They stayed in character when they stood up, resumed fiery exchanges closer to the front of the stage, and stormed out of opposite exits.
The portion of the show featuring solo and unit stages was not just a nice way to break up the show’s continuity and keep the audience on their toes, but it also made the group stages that came afterwards seem more impressive. After leaving viewers thinking each member’s strong suit was their rapping, singing, or dancing, the following group stages said, “Actually, it’s all of the above!” They went from each shining in their own right to performing as one synchronized entity again with impressive ease.
An Encore that Spoke Volumes
P1Harmony’s encore was one of the most memorable ones seen at a K-pop show in a long time: each member left the stage except for KEEHO, who feigned confusion about where the others went and if there had been a misunderstanding about when the show actually ended! Just as the bit went on long enough to start questioning if there really had been a misunderstanding, the other members reappeared in the back of the venue! They sang the encore while walking very slowly up the aisle, lingering to give plenty of P1ECEs (aka fans) dream-come-true interactions.
A particularly touching moment came during their concluding ments (final remarks), when JIUNG positively beamed as he expressed his gratitude for the fans’ surprise: they had prepared fake butterflies and pictures of hearts to hold up during the encore! P1ECEs showed the group extra love in other ways too, like by throwing gifts on the stage, and the members kept returning the favor, picking up and posing with those gifts. They also posed for selfies with and high-fived fans as if they had all the time in the world. The final few minutes of the show screamed “We don’t want to leave yet,” for the artist and the fans alike!
More on the Role of P1ECEs
Some of the moments most worth smiling about during the show were unscripted moments of modesty. Seeing P1Harmony appear so genuinely moved by fans’ gestures, consciously choose to make eye contact with as many fans as possible, and credit their success to the fans countless times was very sweet. The group proved why they have truly earned their popularity by staying so obviously humbled by it.
In the talking segments, the professionalism P1Harmony conveyed while singing and dancing was replaced with approachability. It was an interesting contrast to watch them deliver such polished choreography and intense energy during performances and then turn it off like a light switch, appearing just like the boys next door when it was time to talk with P1ECEs. Their friendliness and likability were boundless.
Besides showering the group with gifts and surprises during the final songs, P1ECEs helped make this show even more lively by reacting to call-and-response requests with overwhelming intensity. They even started up some chants without any prompting!
Issues with P1Harmony’s show are more subjective than objective. While there is much to appreciate about this show’s format, there is still something preferable to some about a show with more continuity. Some prefer the types of K-pop shows where talking segments are few and far between and the show goes through a comprehensive, sparsely-interrupted narrative arc. However, some prefer a show like P1Harmony’s, which is a little bit of everything instead of a lot of one thing! There was no central story to this show, and the transitions were uneven in terms of timing (for example, one video intermission was about twice as long as the other one).
P1Harmony presented their material in a way that perfectly fit their group identity: multidimensional, unpredictable, and endearing. They commanded attention with every second, and it remained anyone’s guess towards what exactly that attention would be directed.
P1Harmony showed off a little bit of every K-pop concert concept: sleek and sophisticated, goofy and lighthearted, and everything in between. They had dynamic raps, swoon-worthy vocals, tight dance routines, a chic fashion sense, and palpable love and appreciation for the crowd. While this “a little bit of everything” approach to a show does not always work, P1Harmony proved they have what it takes to make the randomness enjoyable instead of annoying! Although they showed off many talents and positive traits, their biggest one was simply being themselves. They gave every moment their full attention and made the “P1ONEER” show one worth cherishing.
View the full setlist below!
Look At Me Now
Doom Du Doom
THEO’s cover of “21” by DEAN
SOUL’s cover of “Hug Me” by JOONIL JUNG
KEEHO’s cover of “Deja Vu” by Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z, transitioning into a cover of “Love Never Felt So Good” (by KEEHO, JIUNG, and SOUL) by Michael Jackson
A rap unit performance from INTAK and JONGSEOB
Gotta Get Back
BFF (Best Friends Forever)
Do It Like This
Check out past 17 Carat K-Pop P1Harmony coverage here, and subscribe to the podcast (on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts) for more thoughts on this concert in an upcoming episode!