With K-Pop on the rise in the past couple of years, it's no surprise to see that such popularity would naturally bleed into other genres of Korean music such as K-Rock. Though there have been many notable K-Rock bands on the scene over the years, few have left such a lasting impression such as The Rose. The quartet consisting of Woosung (Sammy), Dojoon (Leo), Jaehyeong (Jeff), and Hajoon (Dylan) have had quite the busy schedule since the beginning of 2023, in preparation for the drop of their newest album and their North American tour, kicking off this month.
A snapshot into their time at Lollapalooza Chicago earlier this year gives you a sense of just who The Rose are. Having come onto the Lollapalooza Bacardi stage a little after 9PM the quartet had experienced technical difficulties, but the group persisted and put on a fantastic middle section of their show only to be met with technical difficulties again at the end of the show. Such on-and-off issues didn't matter: the group stay professional throughout to great reward, ending their set on a high to the delight of all who had waited hours to watch them perform.
Since the beginning of the year, the group played numerous festivals internationally such as multiple Lollapaloozas spanning from Argentina to Stockholm, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and the LMAC MUSICFORALL FEST in Indonesia. More notably, The Rose had made their US festival circuit debut at the aforementioned music festival, Lollapalooza Chicago. The 3rd of August not only marked The Rose’s debut at the festival, but had further significance to themselves and their fans — endearingly referred to as Bllack Roses — as this marked the 6th year since their debut as a band.
The band have stuck together through thick and thin: in times past, a lawsuit against their former company, overlapping with several members being in the military, meant that the group and their fans have held onto much faith that no matter what, the group would be able to come back together and make music come hell or high water. And what a fantastic return to music it has been for the group in the past few years.
Back in Chicago, band kicked off their set with ‘Cure', a track off of their then latest album Heal (2022), which then led into two of their earlier songs ‘Candy (So Good)’ from VOID (2018) and ‘I Don’t Know You;’ from Dawn (2018). Old cuts first, to welcome an audience happy to see them shining on a US stage.
In the middle of their set, The Rose played two songs from their upcoming album DUAL (2023) ‘Back To Me’ and ‘Alive’. These two tracks truly showed the duality of the group by showcasing different production elements used in the creation of the songs. ‘Back To Me’ is reminiscent of early 2000s pop-rock with it’s anthem-like chorus, where it's easy for the crowd to get involved as they sang the refrain back to the group. By contrast, ‘Alive’ is a slower song, before the track hits an unexpected EDM drop. Though the drop is unexpected, it works seamlessly with the song. These two tracks alone presented to the audience a fascinating teaser for what is to come in the rest of the album.
After the set was over, the band hosted and played an after party at the Vic Theater on Friday night: the venue made their performance a different affair to the earlier set, and was a more intimate atmosphere with fans filling and selling out the venue completely.
Woosung and the group had wanted to make the after party extra special by allowing the crowd to pick their set list, meaning that the group played songs that they hadn't played in a long time due to such fan requests. Every song that the group and the fans sang together really resonated around the small venue and by lacking a formal setlist, one could clearly feel the gratitude the band had for the fans that had supported them over so many years. Woosung mentioned after playing ‘Cure’, ‘Candy (so good)’, ‘I Don’t Know You’, and ‘RED’ that since the set list was up to the crowd’s discretion, there was no promise of the group remembering the lyrics. Special versions of songs throughout the night were sung where Jaehyung and Hajoon led the band with their vocals, throwing back to early stages when they first debuted. An unforgettable experience for all in attendance.
Despite the group's busy schedule, the group also released their own Mindset series on DIVE STUDIOS in collaboration with JED Mindset to speak candidly about the hardships the members had faced and how their mindsets help them cope and navigate through such difficult times.
Their Mindset series (much like their music) was created with the intention to be easily relatable for all who listened, whether that be a long-time fan or someone completely unfamiliar with the band. It’d been mentioned in numerous interviews before that they hope that their music could be healing to anyone willing to listen. A fitting sentiment coming from a band that have openly had to fight to keep doing what they love. This perfectly coincides with the themes of their albums: the latest one, Dual, having dropped on the 22nd of September.
Dual is the second full-album from the band and the pre-release singles ‘Back to Me’ and ‘Alive’ released earlier this summer has slowly been building hype for the record, whilst another pre-release single ‘You’re Beautiful’ from earlier this month has helped get listeners chomping at the bit for the full vision to finally get released. Ever meticulous, these pre-release singles provide a solid foundation for what newcomers to the band can expect from the album, whilst highlighting to long term listeners the evolution of the band's sound during this new era.
The record opens with seconds of silence before the sounds of birds chirping appear, emulating the sounds one might hear when dawn breaks. It finally leads into a dreamy instrumental to set sonic mood of the album; reminiscent of the intro track on Heal that was, likewise, used to set the mood of the album. It is an opening that transports the listener into a story crafted precisely the band as the record moves effortlessly from track to track, coasting on a bed of early 2000s pop-rock vibes and well-place synths.
From festivals to press opportunities to their newest record and more , The Rose have truly been everywhere this year and it's not hard to see why. As Dual demonstrates, if their tenacity and their compelling artistic visions are the group's anchor, The Rose's ship should stay afloat for many years to come, no matter what storms come their way.
Dual is out now. The Rose is set to go on tour starting in San Francisco on October 4th. The Rose can be found on Instagram here and on all major streaming platforms.
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