The first day of KCON LA is off and running almost as soon as one enters the LA Convention Center. Truly, there isn’t a moment to catch one’s breath once the weekend begins in earnest. In the early evening on Friday, August 18, the folks of MACG Productions present the ASSA Awards, a ceremony derived from their brilliant minds to recognize the content creators that have kept the fervor for Korean culture alive and relevant in an ever-widening audience’s consciousness.
The show in and of itself is really quite heartwarming, seeing all the effort and love these creators put into this cultural phenomenon that they adore. As part of the ceremony, as with every awards show, there are the requisite performances.
This year, MACG gifts those in attendance with a performance from California natives Apollo and Gemini. As with the instant buzz and fury of KCON, from the moment one enters the room, there’s a palpable anticipation in the air. The pervasive feeling throughout the weekend is most certainly awe, an innate emotional response to seeing elusive artists up close and personal. Most certainly one can feel this same sense of star-stricken excitement in the presence of the two rappers.
Even with an obvious outpouring of love from those who know them, the duo show signs of being just as on-edge as the people shuffling in. Everyone’s anxiety manifests differently. Gemini opts to lay in a corner, resting his eyes and body to store his seemingly endless well of energy for the performance. Meanwhile, Apollo keeps busy, playing little pranks, laughing… all obvious nerves and anticipation.
In the tense moments leading up to their first song, track “Go Get It,” Apollo and Gemini’s banter is easy. There are moments of awkward silence, part-in-parcel to trying to entertain complete strangers. Despite a slight delay in their music–one of the first in a bevy of issues throughout the weekend due to spotty Wi-Fi connectivity in the LA Convention Center–the two are cordial, more than happy to interact with an expectant audience.
But when the first notes of “On & On” finally creep through the ample sound system, the duo are off and running, immersing themselves and their audience with an electrifying performance. Theirs is a combination of laid-back swagger, audacious lyrics, and high-octane delivery, a mixture that runs the risk of producing a muddled performance but instead adds to the interesting dynamic of the two West Coast rappers.
For those familiar with Gemini’s charisma, it comes as no surprise that he adapts well to the smaller performance space. He is, as fans of his will attest, quite obviously the center of attention. He carries himself with all the the confidence of a man who knows the audience is there to see him. As he moves between songs, using silly banter and sharing anecdotes to keep the focus squarely on his shoulders, he isn’t so much arrogant as he is aware that he has the audience’s undivided attention.
However, one can’t mention Gemini’s performance without acknowledging the understated brilliance of Apollo, his partner in crime. While Gemini is all audacious energy and (at times) chaos, Apollo preserves his ostentatiousness for his lyricism and delivery. He’s the Eazy-E to Gemini’s Ice cube–a man who has an aura about him that while perhaps at times subdued under the overbearing colors of his friend, gives off a pure and powerful energy of his own, a spirit that lives in his words. Even his attire—nondescript denim jacket as opposed to Gemini’s sleek black, and later form-fitting undershirt, flannel shirt, bucket hat covering his eyes—shows he’s more prone to claiming his spot off to the side than completely up front (mind you, never in the back).
The two have an easy camaraderie that shines when they’re thick in the throes of a performance. It’s a constant push and pull between them, an unending synergy that adds dimension to their show. Though only offering a few songs, one can tell they’re more than willing to perform all night if invited to do so.
Despite their differences in both performance and demeanor, there’s an obvious commonality between them: the desire to please every person in the room. Whether brandishing an affected braggadocio or a more reserved hesitancy, both Apollo and Gemini are determined to bring the audience the same joy they have when on stage.
Photo credits: MBFILMWORKS. Find more of his work at on Facebook.
About the Writer: Cy is a digital journalist and blog writer specializing in reviews of music and film across a broad range of genres. Wherever there’s electricity, food and a good Wi-fi connection is where she makes her home. Find her on Twitter (@mindlesscy) and Instagram (@mindless_cy).