Girl's Generation, SPICA, CNBlue and more take on LA during KCON 2014
If the first concert plus two days of sun, workshops, panels, food, and pretty much anything else Korea you could want, weren't enough, KCON 2014 was brought to a close by the second night of MCountdown! 2 Nights in LA on Sunday. With groups like Bangtan Boys, SPICA, and Girl's Generation, there was no doubt the crowd was going to be dancing, but the rock vibes of CNBlue and Jung Joon Young definitely gave the rest a run for their money.
The pre-show brought two amazing performances; the first by singer Jahmeel, while the second featured two dancers from the Korean television show Dancing 9. Jahmeel is an indie R&B singer from California. He is a very dynamic vocalist, and his set, which included a cover of "Buy You A Drank" by T-Pain that may be better than the original, was all the proof the audience needed. He was quickly followed by the Dancing 9, who featured a male solo followed by a solo from the female dancer. They were both great, but I'm not so sure the crowd was sure what to expect. It was when they took the stage together, performing a powerful duet, that the audience really got into the performance. (Note: My apologies to the dancers, as we were not provided their names, nor are they listed on the KCON website.)
After the same build up as the first night, ready, set, go, Bangtan Boys took the stage! They may be young in terms of time on the K-pop scene, but judging by the screams of the crowd, they have already made their mark. Kicking off with "Boy In Luv" and "No More Dreams," it was clear that the the group was unwilling to make anything less than the best impression. After speaking with the audience for a few minutes, the cheers got louder as the track for "We Are Bulletproof Part 2" started to ring through the arena. The fans singing along were louder than the group themselves at certain points, proving that BTS needs to tour in the United States soon. Closing their set with the more mellow "I Like It" and energetic "Attack On Bangtan," the choreography was just as on-point as it was in the beginning. Bangtan did nothing but impress with their range.
Jung Joon Young brought rock to the stage with his surprisingly husky voice. Although he claimed he was nervous, he did his best speaking to the crowd in English, introducing each song, and generally being adorably awkward. Performing the mellow "The Sense Of An Ending" and "Hold On," Joon Young's vocals were surprisingly powerful for someone who has chosen the rock genre. He amped the audience with "From Me To Me," where he showcases his rap skills, and his current single "Teenager." His last song was his tribute to Michael Jackson, a cover of "Black Or White" that featured Rap Monster from the Bangtan Boys for the rap portion. It had the crowd dancing just as much as he was. For an artist who claimed to be nervous, he dominated his stage.
SPICA was next to take the stage. The 5-member girl group started with "You Don't Love Me" wasting no time in letting the crowd know that they had pipes and were not afraid to use them. Moving into a stunning a cappella version of Blackstreet's "No Diggity," I was delighted to hear that it was actually a mash up as it quickly led in to Boyz II Men's "Thank You." The audience roared as it was announced that the group would be singing their U.S. debut single "I Did It." The song is extremely upbeat, and catchy to boot. Coupled with their near-perfect English, it will definitely be a hit. The group ended their stage with hits "Painkiller" and "Tonight" with the audience roaring every time a high note was hit.
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CNBlue... There is no doubt of their popularity here in the United States. Opening with "Can't Stop," the crowd was pumped and sang along, almost overpowering Yong Hwa as he sang. Taking a moment to show off his English skills, Yong Hwa hyped the crowd before moving into "Intuition" and "I'm A Loner." Ever the ringmaster, Yong Hwa addressed the crowd again, stunning several people with his awesome beatboxing skills. Not taking a moment to slow down, the next up was "Love" before closing out with "I'm Sorry." Honestly, there is something that is amazing about seeing musicians that you love, who are also actors, take the stage right before your eyes and show you a new side of themselves. This was my second time seeing them perform and I was ecstatic that they were able to play live because they were unplugged the first time. They are truly as talented as they sound.
The last act of this fabulous concert was Girl's Generation. While short one member (Soo Young), which they were extremely apologetic for, the girls spent a lot of time engaging with the audience in English throughout their entire set. They started off with their current single "Mr. Mr." and older hits "Hoot" and "Genie." Since it was also their anniversary not that long ago, Girl's Generation congratulated their fans for being family and thanked the audience for their support. I am not usually too keen on many girl groups, but in celebration of their anniversary they sang "Into The New World" a cappella and blew the entire arena away. Not to disappoint, the girls performed "Mr. Taxi" and the ever-popular "Gee" before reluctantly having to say goodbye.
Overall, the MCountdown! concerts at KCON 2014 were a success. There were only one or two notable technical issues, and with all of the theatrics, so much more could have gone wrong. I would have liked to see slight differences in the line up, not in the groups themselves, but rather which day they were on. Placing a newer rock artist like Jung Joon Young on the same day as an established rock band like CNBlue seems a little bit unfair, but I do understand that artist schedules play a big part in the decision. All of the groups did a great job and many will be finding their way into my playlist a bit more often.
Who blew you away on Sunday's concert? Is there a song you wanted to hear that wasn't performed? What do you think of KCON as a whole? Let me know all of your thoughts in the comments below or you can send me a tweet @Hallyu_Tanya!