Updated: Apr 1
Written by Katherine Stam
Early Friday evening, music fans lined up outside 3TEN ACL Live for an exciting showcase featuring emerging Asian artists, several of whom had never played in the U.S. before.
The show was organized by Jaded, a multimedia publisher founded by Jing Wang and Abi Raymaker, which shares the work of talented Asian artists across different mediums, genres and identities. This inaugural live event featured six artists whose music ranged from R&B to electronic to hip hop to rock.
First to perform was Shelhiel, who wooed the crowd with smooth vocals over R&B beats in a cool, all-blue suit. Shelhiel, who is from Malaysia and has toured all over Southeast Asia, shared with the crowd that this was his first time in the U.S. He played several tracks from his latest EP SUPERSTROBE, and he even treated the audience to an unreleased track, finishing his set with the song “Sayang,” which means “my dear.”
Next up was MEYY, an R&B artist from Brussels who now makes music out of London. While her DJ, O’simmie, laid down beats, MEYY danced and sang her heart out, delivering a mesmerizing performance. She also showcased her versatility, pulling out a stool and an acoustic guitar for “Love is a Battle,” and then jumping into a cover of The Weeknd’s “The Hills” two songs later.
CIFIKA, a producer, vocalist and artist, took to the stage next with a more elaborate setup including a synth, laptop, and mixers. She impressed with her rich, piercing voice and live production, adding delay to the refrain of her song “Youth” live in front of the audience and creating a bouncy, moody, club atmosphere.
Canadian hip hop duo Cartel Madras kept the energy going and hyped the crowd up with “Housey (Thirsti Thots 2 Tha Front),” rapping “I need a bitch to riot at my show / I need a bitch to fight at my show / I need a bitch to stunt at my show / I need a bitch to leave her man, at my show.” Their performance was one to remember as they bantered with the crowd, jumped around the stage spitting verses and even caused a wedding proposal between audience members.
When Korean singer-songwriter So!YoON! walked on stage next, the excitement was palpable. Dressed in a leather jacket and dark shades, she had an undeniable swagger as she tossed her guitar pick into the crowd and launched into her first song. Soyoon had the crowd singing along with her, and she closed her set out with “Wings,” a romantic, bedroom-pop single she released with Phum Viphurit in 2020.
Last to perform was CHAI, the Japanese rock band headlining the show. They brought a lively energy on stage with colorful costumes, choreographed dance moves and encouraging lyrics about self-love and finding joy in all different parts of life. Their enthusiastic, purposeful delivery of both high energy tracks like “N.E.O.” and more laid back songs like “IN PINK” was sure to win over any audience member. It was the perfect ending to a night full of incredible artists.