KCON’s Day 1 concert was amazing, but Day 2 ended up being more memorable for me in the long run. I always laugh when I look back at my phone videos, because there is a HUGE difference between my reactions on both nights. On the first day, I was so starstruck by seeing K-pop idols up close (one in particular) that I barely made a peep the entire time. (I did however, manage to rally for my girl Irene.) Thankfully, the novelty of seeing so many celebrities faded as the weekend went on. By the time I entered the Prudential Center again, I was ready to jump up and down and cheer with the rest of the crowd.
SPECIAL STAGE: LE (EXID), “Velvet”
SPECIAL STAGE: Taeyong, Jaehyun, Mark (NCT 127), “Whiplash”
SPECIAL STAGE: Joochan (GC) and Jiwon (fromis_9), “Hawaiian Couple”
ABOUT MY SEAT: Though I was fairly high up (Row 20), I actually had a pretty good view of the whole stage and the monitors. However, WordPress doesn’t let me upload my phone videos, and my pictures are not that great quality with all the flashing lights. So, I’m going to use MNET’s official videos instead!
Even though I really enjoyed Golden Child’s debut, I didn’t actually know much about them before KCON. I thought “Dam Da Di” was catchy, but I couldn’t get into “It’s U.” As hard as I try, fresh and innocent concepts just aren’t my thing. So although Golden Child opened the show on a high note, I spent most of “It’s U” doing the following: looking for Y (the only one I can recognize without fail), trying to take videos of Daeyeol (my friend Jess’s bias), and attempting to identify the one who looked like a cross between EXO’s Sehun and BTS’s Jin (it was Jibeom – thanks, Wikipedia).
KCON gave Golden Child the title of “Next Almighty Boy Band,” so they used their talk corner to showcase some of their skills. Main dancer Donghun showed off his moves to Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” and main vocalist Joochan sang a bit of Camila Cabello’s “Havana.” Then they went down the line and gave everyone a massive dose of charm and/or aegyo. They finished their set by showing us their musical diversity, cycling through the ballad “All Day,” catchy 50’s retro “Dam Da Di,” and pop-rock style B-side “Crush” (which I am really digging, by the way).
As my life has gotten busier, I’ve kind of reached a saturation point with how many K-pop groups I really get into. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t usually follow rookies these days, unless they’re a group with some major hype. It’s really easy to skip over them because I’m not in their target demographic, and therefore usually not interested in the concepts they’re pushing. This is why I appreciate events like KCON, because watching a group live can make a huge difference. I really enjoyed Golden Child’s set, and I plan on looking into them more!
Cute concepts are currently the girl group trend in South Korea – they have been for a couple of years – but we Americans are still all about our sexy badass divas. KCON anticipated this, and decided to give us two stages to celebrate the dark and tempting side of New York. So when LE appeared to perform her solo track “Velvet,” the crowd went wild. Her song was smoother and more sensual over upbeat and energetic, but she owned that entire huge stage all by herself – not that I’m surprised one bit. Plus, her outfit was a whole look: the red bandanna print tube top and mini skirt, Chanel scarf, and sunglasses gave her an effortlessly cool and chic image. I sincerely wish that her performance had lasted more than a minute.
I should have expected that “Whiplash” was coming; it’s probably one of NCT 127’s sexiest songs. I don’t fangirl on this blog as much as I initially thought I would, but there’s one thing you should know about me: I’m a HUGE Taeyong fan. More specifically, I love “Rude Taeyong” – meaning whenever he’s onstage rapping or dancing with ridiculous charisma. I actually cannot get enough of watching his performance videos (2017 MAMA, anyone?) So, “Whiplash” was basically a whole treat. It’s one thing watching it on YouTube, but it was heart-stopping live – even from 500+ feet away and 20 rows up.
Out of all the groups at KCON NY, I knew the least about fromis_9. I really had every intention of watching Idol School, and I think I ended up seeing the first episode. However, I was way too burnt out from Produce 101 to really enjoy it at the time, and I never got around to finishing it. From what I did know, I imagined that fromis_9 would be KCON’s requisite cutesy girl group – and I was right. They lived up to their “Vitalizing Energy” title, impressing the audience with spot on dance covers to some of the most popular girl group songs. But make no mistake: they still left their own mark on the show with their original music.
Like I said with Golden Child, I’m really glad that I was able to see fromis_9 live at KCON. I have a really hard time getting into cutesy stuff beyond a casual listen, so watching their music videos didn’t really do anything for me. But their bright and bubbly energy both at their Billboard interview and their performance really impressed me. “DKDK” and “Glass Shoes” are still a little too cute for my tastes, but I really enjoy “To Heart.” I’m adding fromis_9 to my list of underappreciated girl groups to hype incessantly, and I look forward to seeing what they do next!
This is the point of the concert where I started to get very pumped up. EXID is one of my favorite girl groups (easily Top 10 and often Top 5), and they were ready to party from the get go. They bounced their way down the stairs and through the crowd as their dancers twirled around in rollerskates, then launched straight into their latest hit “Lady” – a 100% certifiable dance jam. Then they performed “DDD,” “Night Rather Than Day,” and “Up & Down,” building on the contrasting retro and sexy concepts they’ve cultivated during Solji’s absence. Those are all my favorite EXID songs, so needless to say I was out of my seat and dancing along the entire time.
The one thing I took away from seeing EXID live is that they are incredibly sexy. I don’t know why anyone would would think otherwise – it’s basically their whole brand – but their performance is undeniable proof. Hani is my bias crush, and she killed it that night. I don’t know why she’s always saying that she’s not a dancer on variety shows, because her body rolls kept going on for days. She truly is the ultimate girl crush.
Another cool part of their set was that you could hear them harmonize a lot. EXID used to be known for their strong vocal line, but they’ve had to find a different balance during Solji’s hiatus. A nice result of this is that Jeonghwa actually has a lot more lines; she’s still not the strongest voice, but she harmonizes a lot. You can hear a bit of it at the end of “Lady,” but it was most prominent in “DDD.” It was really nice to hear that, because that doesn’t always make it to the music shows on YouTube.
The senior groups explored the dark and seductive side of New York, while the rookies looked at the bright and romantic one. Golden Child’s main vocal Joochan joined fromis_9’s main vocal Jiwon for a cute duet. The song wasn’t really my style, so I don’t have much to say about it – but I thought their voices matched really well and fit their concept!
There were three major reasons why I absolutely had to go to KCON NY, and they came in the form of what I call the “SM Trinity” :
Donghae Super Junior, Red Velvet, and NCT 127. My ultimate bias + my favorite girl group + my favorite boy group? Impossible to resist. Like Red Velvet the night before, this was the only chance I got to see them during KCON – and it was totally worth it.
After an exciting dance intro, NCT 127 launched right into their latest single “Touch” – which still reminds me of a Gap commercial, but I love it all the same. They used their talk corner to fulfill fan requests, using a global theme to frame the overall missions. Johnny, Yuta, and WinWin did aegyo in their native languages (and couple camera time a bit later). Taeil, Doyoung, and Jaehyun sang a beautiful a cappella version of “Where Were You in the Morning?” by Shawn Mendes. (I actually had to watch the YouTube video because I couldn’t figure out the song over the screaming.) And Haechan led Taeyong and Mark through some high fashion poses.
They also performed “Fire Truck,” “0 Mile,” “Limitless,” and their signature showstopper “Cherry Bomb.” So basically, all of their title tracks and a fan favorite. I usually keep my cool at concerts… but having two NCT biases brought out the fangirl in me. I mentioned that I really like Taeyong, but I’m also a pretty big Yuta fan. It’s a constant struggle whenever NCT 127 is promoting. Basically, I ended up cheering the whole time because I’m fond of the other members too. Strangely enough, I didn’t hear as much cheering for Yuta as the other members. I thought it was the concert earplugs that I was wearing, but you can hear it in the video too. So I was pretty much the only one in my section who was shouting out during his part – or shouting loudly -but I was more than happy to hype him up.
Wanna One had just finished promoting their special album, so we were treated to a special subunit performance. I was really excited about the medley because it was great to see other sides of the members. I think it’s hard to show everything you’re capable of when you’re in a group of eleven people, especially when everyone’s talents are so diverse. So though I only really like two of those songs, it was really cool to see Wanna One perform music from various genres and show how their skills have improved since Produce 101. The rest of their set included “Light,” “Beautiful,” and “Energetic.” I was disappinted they didn’t do “Boomerang,” which is my favorite – but it obviously wasn’t that big of a deal.
For their corner, Wanna One did the usual couple dance time (where Daniel proved he knows the “Single Ladies” dance) and a special 101 second relay mission. I won’t list all of the tasks because they’re in the video, but the whole thing was pretty funny. Everyone was screaming so loudly that I couldn’t hear anything and had no idea what was actually going on, so I was very confused by what some of the members were doing – especially Jinyoung’s scandalous dancing. (I’m sure everyone else loved it, but I’m an overprotective noona and that boy’s barely legal here in the States.) The highlight was Minhyun coolly ending the mission with a finger heart and a charming smile.
If you read my blog last year, you probably know that I have a soft spot for Wanna One. I started out recapping Produce 101 for fun, but ended up getting super into it (maybe too much so). My attachment has lessened a bit over the past year because I couldn’t keep up with their activities, but I was really glad that I was able to see them at KCON. Not only can I confirm that Seongwu and Minhyun are super handsome in real life (the important things), but I got to see the results of all that hard work on Produce 101. I followed this group’s journey from the beginning, when they were unknown trainees or “failed” idols. It was quite something to see them as superstars.
NOTE: All videos and images belong to KCON and MNET.