Retrospective: Dreamcatcher’s Compact “Apocalypse: Follow Us” Promotions Showcase Old-school Sound…

K-Pop — Dreamcatcher Retrospective

K-Pop septet Dreamcatcher’s second comeback of 2022 reminded fans of the core of their musical style, while also introducing new opportunities for the group and company.

Dreamcatcher snaps a group photo in Warsaw, Poland, as part of their 2022 Europe Tour. Source: hf_dreamcatcher

After a memorable and long-awaited second full album and first comeback of 2022 with Dreamcatcher’s “MAISON”, a title track that would be punctuated by the group's first-ever music show win on April 20th, fans wondered where Dreamcatcher would go the next time around. The “Apocalypse” storyline was no less dark than “Nightmare” or “Dystopia”, but after the compilation of evolved musical styles that headlined “Apocalypse: Save Us”, curiosity reigned as to how to follow up such a memorable entry in the discography.

What we got was a bit of that old-school Dreamcatcher sound, blended with just a bit of the modern style that sent the group up in popularity beginning with 2019’s title track “Deja Vu”. Though promotions were a bit shorter than usual due to what fans would find was a very busy schedule both in home turf South Korea and on the road in Europe, we saw the group and company market this core throwback sound and their recently minted achievements in many new places and methods — a strategy that I think reflects a new mentality of more widely spreading their reach to an increasingly competitive K-Pop fanbase.

As always with every comeback, I’m here with a retrospective of some of the things I noticed that typified the era, so without further ado, let’s get to what I observed from Dreamcatcher’s “VISION” era.

“Apocalypse: Follow Us” was a comfortable return to Dreamcatcher’s earlier vibe, with a touch of their modern musical flavor.


As I brought up before, the follow-up to Dreamcatcher’s 2nd Full album, and one that came on the heels of so much that happened during it, was bound to be interesting. Would the group lean more heavily into the hybridized rock/pop sound that they’ve been touting? What kind of tracks, especially for the title track, would be expected?

The answer, as we found with “Apocalypse: Follow Us”, was in my opinion a decent return to Dreamcatcher’s core sound. Backed with heavy guitar and a dose of hard-charging aggression and choreography, title track “VISION” showed us that Dreamcatcher, for all the ways in which their music has hybridized and evolved, that they haven’t forgotten what got them their loyal fanbase in the first place. The look and feel of the video, with the military/rebellion styling, burned-out and war-torn base, and Dreamcatcher’s invitation to engage in a fight for the planet contributed to this vibe, as did the overall tone of the song. Dreamcatcher Company made a shrewd decision in all their teasers to hide the chorus of “VISION” from listening until release, and the results were a rock-based surprise that harkened back to 2018’s “YOU AND I” and “What”, which both featured headbanging-encouraged choruses that got the energy flowing for listeners.


But there was also a bit of new flavor to this old-school style track as well. The inclusion of indie rock band Glen Check’s June One injected what I felt was a shot of adrenaline into “VISION” and along with veterans LEEZ and Ollounder, created a newness to it that embraced some of the recent love for Cyberpunk 2077-like sound that people have tended to appreciate these days. Reactors and fans, who generally liked “MAISON” but perhaps felt it could have offered more, were to a person floored by “VISION” and its chorus, bridge, and overall feel. This was, honestly, the best of both worlds, both delighting older fans of Dreamcatcher as well as serving as a nice introduction for newer fans to their earlier musical style.


This style wasn’t limited to the title track, either. Structurally, the album reflected Dreamcatcher’s earlier releases, with a mostly rock-based B-side (in this case, the wonderful and heady alternative rock track “Fairytale”), one experimental track (the feel-good, offbeat pop song “Some Love”), and a ballad (the melancholy, yet sentimental “Rainy Day”). Both an instrumental Intro and Outro wrapped this mini-album together, and the result was, to me, a return to form for expected B-siding for the group — and, as such, was a welcome one.

A bevy of new variety appearances showed Dreamcatcher expanding into unexplored territory, providing a fresh look at the group’s versatile and entertaining off-stage character.


Variety-wise during this era, one of the most noticeable things that I saw was the sheer amount of brand-new places that Dreamcatcher was able to appear in. While there were certainly mainstays, such as Weekly Idol, Idol Radio, and TongTongTV, that have served as the foundation for Dreamcatcher’s reliable variety promotions core, the vast majority of booked schedules were for places that they’d never appeared before, and/or provided new and fun settings for the group. Whether it was for the science-based show “Idolstein”, a mini-reality vacation-style four-episode show in “Welcome To Idol World”, or answering fan questions for CeCi Korea, and much more, there was a ton of fresh variety vibe for Dreamcatcher to show off their offstage personality.


Not only do these new variety places show off some fun ways for Dreamcatcher to show audiences how entertaining they can be, but they also display an expanding wider range of opportunity for their slowly growing visibility, both domestically and internationally. My personal favorite is their POPKORN “Guess The Idol Group Behind Me” video where they hilariously have fun with the guessers trying to mislead them but end up emotionally touched by their appreciation and surprising familiarity of their work. The fact that Dreamcatcher is A)getting these opportunities in new places and B)have people who aren’t fans that do know who they are and what they have done despite their non-traditional concept and sound is encouraging. Certainly there are some folks who are concerned about Dreamcatcher not being more visibly out there (more on that in a bit), but that’s not the case given the sheer amount of fun new content out there.

On the idol/friend network variety front, Dreamcatcher continued to build their growing slate of appearances with their peers’ shows, including:

  • Gossip IDLE with Miyeon of (G)-IDLE
  • Mubeat Live with Kwon Eunbi
  • Idol Radio with Hongjoong and Yunho of ATEEZ

Given all this, it’s safe to say that even if we haven’t seen Dreamcatcher on the “S-tier” variety shows such as Running Man or Knowing Bros just yet, that they continue to slowly climb the variety ladder.

With a partial focus on individual appearances, Dreamcatcher and Dreamcatcher Company have an eye to the future and a desire to show individual member appeal.


Speaking of new opportunities, one noticeable thing that I saw for this comeback era was a few individual appearances by Dreamcatcher members. We saw a bit of this being signaled when Dreamcatcher Company sent Handong on her first solo DJ appearance on TBS FM’s Akdong Seoul Chinese-language radio show prior to the comeback in September, but we saw more of it during “VISION” era when Dami appeared on her own in the 2nd season of eclectic cover/concept series “MUSHROOM LIVE”.


Unsurprisingly, however, it was Dreamcatcher’s leader JiU who was, well, leading with her presence and poise during this era’s partial emphasis on individual work. She sat for a poignant and honest interview with KPOP IDOL OLYMPIC about Dreamcatcher’s past struggles, present achievements, and future aspirations, met a fan’s mother about the positive impact she and Dreamcatcher have had, and even got to narrate a documentary on climate change. As Dreamcatcher’s oldest, she was in a good position to comment on and represent the group in a variety of places, as well as serve as a way to show potential fans the group’s appeal even despite a concept that isn’t standard in the K-Pop industry. With an eye towards always looking to explain and espouse the group’s history coherently and in a fun way, as she did during a variety appearance on Idol Live School, “Charisma Bunny” isn’t just a self-label, but a legitimate nickname, and one the company recognizes.


When you look at this part of the strategy for variety appearances and then at things on the official channel, such as the more extended, multi-part versions of individual VLOGs that we are seeing from the summer’s NA tour, it feels like to me that Dreamcatcher Company has an eye towards the future of the group. In the industry, individual activities usually follow the end of a group’s time together. While we now know that Dreamcatcher will now have at least a bit more time to be active, the idea of getting all the individual members out there on their own in certain instances in order to begin establishing their appeal for potential opportunities is very forward-thinking and encouraging for making attempts to build up the group and its members for future career aspirations.

Despite a compressed promotion schedule and potentially lower album sales for “Apocalypse: Follow Us”, Dreamcatcher Company has marketed the group well and continues to do so despite some fan concerns.


One sentiment that I’ve seen during “VISION” promotions is one coming from some fan circles that Dreamcatcher Company’s marketing has left a lot to be desired. The negative sentiment appears to come from the fact that promotions were cut by a week, some scheduling has been a bit compressed, and that the group has not seen appreciable growth reflected in sales or visibility in South Korea since their first win in April, which has bled over into occasional frustration about the group’s continuing lower traction in the domestic audience. The current album sales (still counting) as of this writing, by the way, appear to be close to 88,000 on Hanteo, which is currently below the mark set by previous album “Apocalypse: Save Us” (100,000+). We may see more from fansigns and other residuals, but signs, for now, point to a slight dip in sales.

While well-intentioned and non-toxic for the most part, such concerns and criticism just aren’t things I can agree with, for a variety of reasons, but primarily because from what I can see, the info we do know doesn’t line up with the idea that the company has been poor at marketing Dreamcatcher, either this era or any other previous one.

Some things to consider:


This isn’t to say that Dreamcatcher Company doesn’t have things they could improve upon when it comes to their marketing — any company could be doing better and I definitely see places where we could see more movement building the group’s fanbase back on their home turf. But many of the criticisms — such as compressed scheduling, or a lack of paths to signal boost of the group as a whole, or simple questions of “why aren’t you doing x” when x is some random viral marketing tactic, fail to take into account the context of the group’s overall plans for the year, what it takes logistically to do things like schedule an entire tour or promotion schedule, how the K-pop industry’s highly reputation-based system works, or what it means or how best to market specifically in South Korea to a general public that has a clear preference for a certain kind of sound in popular music. I personally have a decade-plus of professional community/social media management experience in another industry, and even I know that I can’t take what I think works to marketing a group and try to apply it to how it could be done in another country and industry. There are simply limits to the visibility fans have on what it means to market a group like Dreamcatcher and people should realize that, before submitting criticisms or becoming angry or frustrated with Dreamcatcher Company.


In the end, when you look at how the group is doing right now, you’d be hard-pressed to say they are being promoted poorly. Domestic channels and fandom size do leave a bit to be desired but as previously cited, new opportunities and channels for promotion are already presenting themselves to the group. Internationally, the slow but steady growth is even more obvious — the recent Paris concert for Dreamcatcher’s EU Tour visually showed that the estimated 4–5k attendance based on the venue layout far outstrips the group’s last appearance in 2019, when they played to only 1,400 fans in a much smaller place. Revenue, as it is coming from exponentially more places this comeback/year rather than just albums, easily and partially explains the slightly slower album sales pace for Dreamcatcher’s slowly expanding fandom.


Even if you don’t believe all of that, the vote of confidence in the company’s ability to market Dreamcatcher comes from the group themselves, who not only collectively renewed their contracts with Dreamcatcher Company but as cited above from JiU, negotiated more favorable terms to boot. Were the company so deficient as some fans have believed recently at marketing the group, this would likely not have happened or have taken longer. So if you don’t trust anything I say, trust that the group and members themselves have put their eggs into the Dreamcatcher Company basket and will work just as hard as they do to improve their visibility and marketing presence. As fans, my advice is to be reasonable and constructive in your feedback to the company, understand as best you can the context of the decisions being made, and adjust accordingly. The future is not set in stone, and who knows where Dreamcatcher and Dreamcatcher Company go from here. But as far as I’m concerned, their well-positioned to go even higher than they already are, and “VISION” promotions are the latest testament to that.

Dreamcatcher at a recent fansign on December 2, 2022. Source: hf_dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher goes into December with a few more activities in store for us but already a solid 2022 in the books. My year-end retrospective will be here in a couple weeks to talk more about everything Dreamcatcher has achieved over the past 12 months, but until then, look forward to more content from me regarding the group as per usual! Be sure to clap, subscribe, and signal boost if you enjoy what I’m writing, and I’ll see you here again next week at this time.