'Now I think I can let go': NCT's Taeyong finishes emotional 'TY Track' concerts in Seoul

Taeyong from NCT 127 performs at his first ever solo concert "TY Track" [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

When Taeyong broke down sobbing on Sunday in the middle of performing the autobiographical “Back to the Past” (2023) — the encore song to his first solo concert — it was as if he was relaying the lyrics to his younger self: to a lost teenage boy who thought of himself as a source of disappointment to his mother and neighbors, running away from poverty and from home.

“What will you become?” he sang as he faced the sold-out arena. “When you grow up, what will you become?”

It was a tender, vulnerable moment that contrasted the relaxed, boyish swagger the NCT 127 member had exuded throughout the whole concert; and a raw one shadowed by his long journey up to his first concert as a solo artist.

The two concerts, titled “TY Track,” took place at the Olympic Hall in Songpa District, southern Seoul, over the weekend. In line with the concert’s overall theme of showcasing Taeyong’s journey as an artist, the performances were divided into six sections: Artistry, Love, Separation, Hurt, Healing and Autobiography.

The 23-song setlist entirely consisted of songs that Taeyong had either composed or wrote lyrics for, or both, and included tracks from his first EP “Shalala” (2023) and his second EP “Tap,” which just released Monday.

Opening number "Concrete" at Taeyong's concert [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

The concert started out almost tentative. The singer descended onto the stage on a tilted platform shaped like a capital T, singing “Concrete,” a song depicting the possibility of overcoming difficulties even amid a bleak, concrete-like world by believing oneself.

He then hit his stride with the explosive “Virtual Insanity” (2023) followed by the equally exciting “¥£$” (pronounced 'yes'), which showed more of the dance moves for which the singer is famous. The official “main dancer,” “visual” and “center” for boy band NCT 127, the performer was enrapturing as he swung into motion and played the camera that captured his every expression onto the large screens.

Taeyong truly shone with “Shalala,” the title track for his first EP, a track that arguably best captures the artist’s signature hip-hop style and one his fans associate him with the most.

“His music style is often called ‘neo,’ which I agree with,” Lee Ji-hyun, who came to the concert for a second run, said. “For instance, take ‘Shalala’: It’s a style I’ve never seen in K-pop before.”

Taeyong performs "Lonely," a song from his upcoming second EP "Tap." [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

The second chapter of the concert, under the topic of love, took a more theatrical turn. The stage production for “H.E.R,” a track on the singer’s second EP, was a clear homage to musical films “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952) and “La La Land” (2016).

Taeyong entered from stage left amid pouring rain with an umbrella, while two dancers cloaked by shadows moved in sync on stage right. With the backdrop then set to sprawling city lights, Taeyong and a female dancer, clad in a cobalt blue dress reminiscent of Emma Stone’s “La La Land” costume, danced under the light of a single lamppost.

The scenery again transformed into a retro American bar where Taeyong crooned “Lonely.” The fourth wall was finally broken in the following song, when Taeyong invited the audience to sing Wendy’s part in “Move Mood Mode” (2023).

But the stage production reached its true climax in the third section. After the singer donned a leather jacket and strutted the runway with “Moonlight” and the stage curtain fell for “Moon Tour,” the stage went dark.

Taeyong descends from the air while performing "404 File Not Found." [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

Taeyong, suspended by strings high up in the air, descended to the ground in a beam of light, almost as if he was walking on it. He took slow steps mid-air to the beat of “404 File Not Found” (2023) as the audience stared in awe.

A darker and more sultry side was shown in the fourth section Hurt, as he struggled against binding ropes while performing his second EP's tracks “Ghost” and “Back.”

Another audience high was hit with “Tap,” his second EP’s title track in fifth section Healing.

Taeyong performs "Back." [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

In the last section, Taeyong began with the crowd pleaser “Long Flight” (2019) from a seat in the audience on the second floor of the venue, crisscrossing through rows of excited fans while making his way down to the stage.

“It was my favorite part of this concert,” he said.

Taeyong from boy band NCT 127 [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

The finishing remarks Taeyong made at the end of the concert were bittersweet yet full of triumph as he recounted the years, all the way from his time as a trainee in 2012, up to this moment on stage.

“I tried my best for 10 years. I really did my best up till now,” the performer said after shedding tears during his final song. “It took me 10 years to match up to the standards I set up for myself.”

“In some part of my mind, I always had this compulsion of having to be recognized and to do well, but now I think I can let go.”

Yet the emotional parting only marked an end to the beginning for Taeyong’s fans, demonstrated by the concert’s slogan banners that read “we will always wait for you in the same place.” Having experienced firsthand the K-pop idol’s second EP and further excited by the confirmed release of a documentary movie, fans exited the venue buzzing with anticipation for the artist’s next solo endeavors.

“He was born for the stage,” Alexandra Boyd, a fan from Los Angeles returning for a second concert run, said. “He just stands out.”