The man behind the dark glasses: Psy comes to Toronto

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It is a rare quiet moment in Psy’s concert at the Samsung Galaxy Note II Launch Party. He seems almost frozen in time, scanning the venue behind his pitch-black sunglasses. With one gesture, he takes them off and reveals the face that managed to capture the attention of the world. It’s a rare moment like this, one absent of all the electro, horse-dancing extravaganza, where Psy is the most revealing.

“This is my first time in Canada, in Toronto,” Psy says. “This is a really touching moment for me.”

With one single, Korean pop star Psy became one of the most recognized faces in Western celebrity culture. The viral breakthrough of his self-composed smash “Gangnam Style” initially turned the heads of the Internet population. Soon, the song rose to become one of, if not, the summer dance-anthem of 2012. Millions of views on YouTube were only just the beginning of “Gangnam Style’s” success. The single skyrocketed the star into the much-coveted status of the ubiquitous pop icon, earning Psy the fans and support from an audience he would have never dreamed of winning. From dancing with Britney Spears on the Ellen Degeneres Show to making a surprise cameo on Saturday Night Live, “Gangnam Style” has taken Psy on a life-changing trip.

He isn’t stopping anytime soon.

The pop star’s performance at Toronto’s Kool Haus will mark Psy’s first-ever appearance in front of a Canadian audience. As expected, the widespread presence of “Gangnam Style” has galloped its way in to the country as well. The song has even inspired universities across Ontario, including Ryerson, to choreograph videos to the viral hit.

The atmosphere inside the venue is nothing short of your standard K-Pop concert. Various fans are seen lined up with neon signs scribbled with encouraging messages, written in both Korean and English. The majority of them act like K-Pop fans too, shyly hiding their faces with glow sticks and smartphones as cameras come swaying their way. Some fans even showed up dressed as Psy himself, donning the slick baby-blue-suit-and-bow-tie combo proud. The fans laugh ecstatically, nonchalantly performing the infamous horse-riding dance to the beat of yesterday’s pop hits, diligently keystroked by the venue’s DJ in hopes of keeping fans energized before the big show.

Elements of Psy’s stadium-selling shows were absent from the concert. A quick YouTube search of the singer’s recent concerts would see his wildest on-stage fantasies come true. From flying around the venue on wire, to performing aside what can only be described as a giant inflatable caricature of the star himself, concert-goers expecting to see a spectacle on par with Psy’s shows in his home turf can only but be left disappointed. Still, the singer’s setlist of merely three songs left fans bewildered and amazed by Psy’s over-the-top dance moves, pitch- perfect singing and an unexplainable aura of both charisma and sheer hilarity.

The three-song concert opened up with a track titled “Champion,” an essential Psy song from 2002 that would arguably sit number one on the singer’s repertoire of hits. It is a pure, high-energy dance number, a song that embodies the kind of artist that is Psy. The song was followed up by the singer’s most recent song, titled “Right Now,” that follows in-suit of the energized, electro- dance anthems that Psy specializes in. The song is the only other song from Psy that has garnered significant interest since the international widespread of “Gangnam Style.” The song’s increasing interest is reminiscent of the formula that made Gangnam Style the sensation it is today: a over- the-top hilarious video layered with cheesy, but memorable dancing, an infectious pop tune and most importantly, Psy’s wild personality. The last song of the night was, of course, the song that started it all: “Gangnam Style.” Screams and chants grew wilder as the singer pulled out his shades, and took off his baby-blue blazer, revealing the sleeveless dress shirt underneath; a party-animal attire with a hint of bourgeoisie-classy.

While the concert did not satisfy the pragmatic demands of the stadium-selling shows in Psy’s home turf, the pop star managed to prove his abilities as a performer to new and old fans. Those expecting to see a full-fledged show were obviously left disappointed, but tonight was but a mere taster of what Psy has to offer to the world. It was perhaps the first time new fans of Psy freshly off the “Gangnam Style” bandwagon saw the artist not as “Psy, the Internet sensation,” or “Psy, the guy on YouTube,” but as Psy, the incredible performer and entertainer who has so much in store for the world.