K-pop stars Bang Chan and Felix Lee of Stray Kids fame have made an emotional return to Australia with a performance at the Sydney harbourside venue, Big Top.
Almost 3000 fans from all over the country packed the arena for the South Korean boy group’s second leg of their Unveil ‘I am…’ tour.
In between charismatic, energy-filled performances of songs from their debut album series I am Not, I am Who and I am You, Felix and Chan engaged in banter with the crowd and sang cute renditions of the classic Australian song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree and the Banana Boat jingle.
The non-Australian members of the band also got into the spirit by chanting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” after greeting the crowd with “G’day Sydney”.
Despite their new lives in South Korea, and after making a name for themselves around the world, Chan likened being back home to a “dream”, after an eight year absence.
Felix – who left two years ago – spoke of his nerves at an earlier show in Melbourne but reiterated that it was “two times more nerve-wracking” to be performing in his hometown of Sydney.
Having the boys home was a drawcard for Stray Kids’ fans who the group affectionately call “STAY”.
“The main thing that attracted me was that there were Australians in the group and that I could kind of relate to them,” said 18-year-old Emma from Sydney.
These feelings were shared by 14-year-old Sariah-Jayne who flew from Mackay, Queensland, to attend the Sydney concert.
“Honestly, because Chris [Bang Chan] and Felix are Australian it makes me look up to them 100 times more. It just shows me, even though I’m from a small city in the middle of nowhere, I can still achieve my dreams.”
Stray Kids have broken the K-pop industry’s mould by selecting their own members, a task which is usually done by entertainment companies. Their lyrics, which shed light on topics such as mental health and what it’s like to be a teenager in the 21st century, also deviate from the usual romantic fantasies that most K-pop artists sing about.
“The message they convey in each of their songs – it’s kept me listening,” said 17-year-old Maddie from Toowoomba, Queensland, who had also flown interstate to attend the concert.
The song Mirror from the I am Not album, which they performed on the night, had the crowd passionately singing along to the Korean lyrics, which translate as “Trapped in confusion, I still don’t know myself/Do you know? Asking me, who doesn’t have any answers”.
The song speaks metaphorically of the frustration of finding your identity when you are surrounded by so many influences and opinions.
As the concert drew to a close and the members shared their final thoughts the hyped atmosphere quickly turned sombre.
Felix thanked Chan for his understanding and leadership in “showing me from the bottom all to the way to the top”.
An emotional audience reached boiling point when Felix embraced Chan after he apologised to his family for his busy schedule.
After regaining their composure the band left fans with the promise of new music to come and an even better year ahead.
“2019 Stray Kids and STAY, we’ll show the world what we’re made of!” Chan said.