Throngs of fans lined the streets of South Downtown on a recent sunny Sunday. As they filtered through the doors of Showbox SoDo to kick-off this year’s International Secret Agents (ISA) concert tour on July 31, anticipation filled the room, excitement heard through an eruption of delighted squeals and showcased in homemade signs expressing love for varying performing artists of choice that evening.
The hype was refreshingly contagious as the crowd of 1,600 welcomed to the stage a long list of fan favorites: Victor Kim of Quest Crew (Season 3 winners of MTV’s competition show “America’s Best Dance Crew”), most recent ABDC champions i.aM.mE Crew, Korean American crooner David Choi, local band New Heights, and the ever-popular trio behind Wong Fu Productions. Not to mention hosts and YouTube sensations KevJumba, Ryan Higa, and Cathy Nguyen who managed to infuse a little comedy between the show’s amazing performances culminating in hours of perpetual entertainment that ended with an awe-inspiring, energetic bang of an act by the Billboard chart topping group Far*East Movement.
The effort that brought this bunch together was one that started in 2008 when founders Wong Fu Productions and Far*East Movement collaborated on an idea to empower and unite the Asian American community by providing a platform for Asian American entertainers to showcase their talents to a wider audience. Three years and several sold-out shows later, the ISA concert tour has taken on a life of its own, growing each year with bigger audiences and additional cities on the roster. This year was ISA’s first in Seattle.
“Seattle definitely had one of the loudest and most spirited crowds we’d ever performed for,” said Far*East Movement member James “Prohgress” Roh.
Fellow group member Kevin “Kev-Nish” Nishimura added, “Seattle really gave us the confidence to continue expanding nationwide to make ISA a truly global experience.”
Blogger Amy Nguyen was in attendance to enjoy the show and shared, “I like what they do because when I was a young teen growing up, there were no Asian entertainment role models. Instead, you learned that when you grew up you had to be a doctor or an engineer to be respectable. There was nothing to lead by example on the creative side. The ISA and artists being presented are helping the Asian community by showing diversity and it can only grow from here […] It’s something I’m proud to see.”
As a group of individuals that represent an ability to inspire the community and signify a place for Asian Americans on the mainstream stage, the commonality of their personal message to others is also an encouraging one.
Cathy Nguyen stated, “[…] Asian-American or not, if you’re doing what you want, doing what you love to do, do it.”
While David Choi reinforced a similar thought when discussing his career challenges, “It’s the same challenges as anyone else. I never looked at being Asian as an obstacle. Whether I was Asian or not didn’t make a difference. It was that I pursued it and worked at it which helped me […]”
With each day, these performers gain new followers through the internet and technology, alternative forms from what once was. It takes just moments to pull up YouTube and immediately get hooked by videos of their comedic sketches, catchy lyrics, dreamy voices, or dance triggering performances.
With the launch of ISA’s website and blog (www.isatv.com), ISA intends to continue connecting and engaging with their fans in an environment that highlights Asian-American entertainers, broadening exposure and opening doors for future performers regardless of ethnicity. Through their concert tours and by incorporating all aspects of media entertainment, their goal to empower the Asian American community is sure to be a movement which (if the concert tour is indicative of anything) will be full of amusement, song, dance, passion, and a bounty of possibilities.
For more information about the International Secret Agents, visit: www.isatv.com.
Video courtesy of Pei Chou