When it comes to yearly concert schedules in South Korea, there is one group that can always be depended on to open up the year with a bang. A Big Bang, to be exact.
Big Bang once again played host to a full house at Olympic Hall to open up their “Big Bang +? In Seoul” concert that took place from January 24-26th, 2014. Tickets had sold out so quickly for the original two dates on the Saturday and Sunday shows that a Friday performance was added, which also filled up very quickly.
While the packed hall waited, videos were played on the screens around the stage while the VIPs in standing sang along and practiced their fan chants. The sea of yellow crowns already moving as one was impressive, and the show hadn’t even begun yet! After playing the video to “Fantastic Baby”, the lights went down, and the crowd went insane. A video played introducing the members as an orchestra version of “HaruHaru” began to play. It took a few moments, but once the singing began, the members of Big Bang could be seen in their bright red, plaid outfits, suspended high above the stage on a massive platform, slowly being lowered down to the stage.
The fans were already involved and chanting along by the time the second song, “Blue” began. The stage continued to impress, as they used lifts to highlight and emphasize the singers without needing the members to dance during the song. By the end of the song, the fans were encouraged to sing the end the song, singing the final few lines instead.
The band impressively went from “Blue” into “Bad Boy” seamlessly while the members shouted a short greeting to psych the audience up (as if they actually needed more encouraging.) Big Bang always have an incredible band, but with songs like Blue and Bad Boy, that have the really solid drum parts, it becomes clear how great having a live band is compared to singing with a backing track like k-pop artists do normally.
Without much of a pause between the songs, the band did a nice transition between “Bad Boy”, a slower song, bringing things much more uptempo on stage to get the guys and the audience for the next song, “Gara Gara Go” Despite the song being in Japanese, the fans sang along with what they could, and screamed and shouted along with the rest. Much of the reason Big Bang has had such a solid and successful career is due to their success in both Korea and Japan, so they definitely didn’t try to ignore that fact.
While the guys were performing on the thrust stage, the stage hands had brought out two massive sets of scaffolding and staircases that could be rolled around easily. When “Hands Up” started, Big Bang ran back to the main stage and climbed all over the stairs so they were all over the place. Despite the fact that Big Bang doesn’t do much in terms of choreography, they definitely make up for it in making the stage visually interesting to watch. If they weren’t running around or actually doing some kind of dance, they were using staging effects, or if neither, they were using very impressive pyrotechnics.
The lights went dark and a video came up to introduce the first of the solos, Seungri with his latest releases, “Let’s Talk About Love”. Unfortunately, the song remained a solo for this performance, despite normally being performed with G.Dragon and Taeyang. Of course, they were getting ready for their own solo performances, so “Let’s Talk About Love” was a short performance and he went into “Gotta Talk To U” which was Seungri’s promoted solo track from 2013. After performing the two tracks, Seungri took a moment to stop and speak to the fans. Seungri really got to show his personality in those few moments. He comes across as an incredibly confident, but very charming guy, and the average person is probably defenceless when he chooses to put the charm on. He mentioned he would be doing one of his singles from Japan, and then began to sing “What Can I Do” his latest Japanese solo single.
Once the stage went dark and the band began the slow introduction to the next solo piece, the audience needed no introduction to the song, and began chanting “Kang Daesung!” in time with the music until he began to sing his solo song, “Wings” from the Alive album. The staging to “Wings” is always great and inspiring. The previous concert, he had massive wings and flew over the audience, but this year he broke out from a cage and sang brightly in a hot pink suit. Every performance of this song is incredibly uplifting and inspiring. Daesung then explained the next song a little, since it was also a Japanese single that the Korean fans might not know how to sing along with. Once they knew their part, Daesung began to sing “Joyful” from his Japanese album, D’scover. The song was incredibly cute, and very Japanese pop sounding, very unlike the normal Big Bang sound, but was an interesting mix in the concert.
Daesung left the stage, the other four members came back on after a costume change, and spoke with the audience for a while as Daesung changed into the next costume for the second part of the show. Once all the members were ready to perform, Big Bang began to sing “Together Forever”, a slower song which let the members sing without needing to run around the stage and pander to the audience. After another short MC moment where the members spoke to the audience, they then did a medley of their older work, including “La La La”, “Big Bang”, and “Shake It”. The guys all seemed to be having a great time singing their older pieces, if TOP’s notoriously bad dancing was any sign. There was also some very cool beatboxing from TOP as well.
As the guys left the stage, a video came up on the screen, showing a timeline. It scrolled all the way back to 2006, when Big Bang debuted. Fans went insane as they showed the young, baby faced members of Big Bang singing their first singles and their debut performances. The video went through the years, showcasing each of their singles and solo pieces, as well as highlights throughout their career. It was a nice moment for the fans, because it was able to show all of their favourite moments from the previous years in one well made video, bringing them right up to the concert that day.
The next solo act was Taeyang, where he performed one of his older solo songs first, “Look Only At Me”, followed right after with “Wedding Dress”. Taeyang had a brief moment where he spoke to the audience as well. It was another great moment to see his personality on its own, and you could see Taeyang for being a bit of a tease to his fans. When he finished his pieces, he asked the audience “Did you miss me?” and of course the audience screamed in agreement. However, he cocked his head a little and said “No?” as if what he was hearing was not what the girls were yelling. Of course this made the girls scream louder, which was the point. After speaking to the audience a bit more, Taeyang said he would be performing his latest single, “Ringa Linga”. The dance for this single was intense looking, and Taeyang definitely showed that he’s the best dancer in the group by far.
Once Taeyang was finished on stage, the very recognizable introduction to “Crayon”, G-Dragon’s solo track, began to loop as GD showed up at the very top of the back of the stage. The high energy song pumped through the arena as everyone jumped and danced along. G-Dragon then spoke to the audience for a little, but not much. Anyone who goes to a show expecting G-Dragon to have the same persona as his singing personality will probably be very surprised and confused. Singing, G-Dragon is confident to the point of arrogant sounding. With good reason too, because he’s incredible at what he does. But, when he speaks, G-Dragon comes across as very soft spoken and even shy at times. When it’s all five of the members on stage, he definitely defaults to letting the others talk, and Seungri has to pull him out to speak often. But when he’s on stage by himself, G-Dragon has to talk, so it’s very interesting and sweet to see him being suddenly very soft spoken after singing such strong songs. He quickly went into his second piece, his most recent single, “Crooked” from the Coup D’Etat album. Once again, G-Dragon had the audience dancing and singing along as he ran around the stage, his stage persona taking over.
The introduction to the next solo piece, TOP, was a clip from his video for Doom Dada, however when he did come out on stage, TOP began to sing “Turn it Up” from the project album he did with G-Dragon. The heavy bass and drums echoed through the arena as TOP made his way down from the top of the stage, wearing a blue viagra online prescription suit and white bow which made him look a little like Austin Powers, along with wearing a giant microphone strapped to his back. TOP sometimes gives the impression that he is a very… interesting person. His rapping though is insane to watch, the speed he is able to get through words visualized by the words scrolling past in the video on the screen behind him, dizzying to keep up with. No song showed this better than “Doom Dada”, the song he followed up with. Words flowing at an insane pace, it was impossible to keep up, and yet TOP was able to do it. In an industry where people sometimes question if the rapper in a group is the rapper because they actually can rap, or simply because they can’t sing, Big Bang’s rappers set the bar incredibly high.
Once TOP was finished with his solo, the other four members came out again. By this point, they all seemed to be in pretty good spirits to the point of giddy, because this break from the singing was mostly the guys being ridiculous. They came out trying to sing their own versions of Doom Dada while TOP was getting changed, the pitch going progressively higher each time. The guys all seemed to be in great moods (or questionably sober) and were making the audience crack up with their jokes and animal impersonations. TOP even showed off the evolution of the legendary ChoomTop. (TOP cannot dance. At all. But he gets better each year.)
The next song up was “Tonight”, which could be considered one of their “classics” at this point in terms of how loved it is. The audience went wild as the opening notes began and the guitar brought them into the song. The audience sang the opening rap, and shouted all the fan chants along with the members as the guys ran around the stages to sing with the audience. The next song they went into was “Feeling” which kept the party atmosphere up as the audience danced along. The members of Big Bang had found out where all the hand cameras were feeding into the live feed on the large screens, and so they were playing up to these cameras a lot at this time. Often in the back, Seungri could be found making dirty faces of some kind while the other members were singing to the audience through the camera to make sure everyone could see the members close up. “Feeling” fed right into “Last Farewell” with the famous line, “B to the I to the Bang! Bang!” that every person in the audience sang along to. The only song that could follow up the feeling that these three songs had built up to was “Fantastic Baby”. The audience completely lost it, dancing and singing and fan chanting more than ever. For that song, as it always feels when “Fantastic Baby” is performed, the arena became more a massive club than a concert, with everyone dancing along with the best live act a club could ever end up lining up, according to the thousands in attendance in Olympic Hall.
After “Fantastic Baby”, there really isn’t another song that can top that immediately after, so Big Bang took the moment to stop and say their thank yous to the audience because it was time to start saying goodbyes. Big Bang are an excellent example of a group that has found that healthy balance between Japan and Korea promotions. Of course, that means that VIPs do spend a lot of their time waiting for Big Bang to return back from the other country, so during this thank you time, they took a moment to thank all their fans, from where ever they are from, for being so understanding because they know that other groups don’t make them wait as long between singles. But VIPs seem to be pretty understanding about this, and shouted their encouragement back to the members. By the end of the thank yous, the boys were making fun of each other once again, because it is the easiest way to protect the others from getting emotional and doing something like crying. 😉
By this point, the show was clearly beginning to wrap up. As a telephone rang over the speakers, followed by the well known piano line from “Lies“, the audience and Big Bang seemed to let themselves get lost in the music as they sang along. “Heaven” was an excellent choice to follow up “Lies” as the final song of the main part of the concert. All of the guys were dancing around, acting silly as they sang their hearts out to their fans. Even TOP danced! But as quickly as the songs began, the song wrapped up, and group and dancers made a quick exit.
Despite the show already being well over two hours, VIPs were not satisfied. But instead of chanting the regular “Encore” or “Thank you” that many concerts do, the VIPs did something very special: they sang the chorus to “Sunset Glow” over and over again, until the members returned to the stage.
? ?? ??? (I love you)
? ??? ? ??? (You are the only one in this world)
??? ???? (I shout it out, but)
? ?? ?? (It’s unanswered)
??? ?? ??? (The sunset is burning bright)
Of course Big Bang had to return for that! They returned to come out onto two platforms that would make their way around the outside of the standing section. This brought the members right up to the seated section for the encore pieces. They first sang “Always”, while they were covered in merchandise from the goods table. As they made their way around the arena, they began tossing things into the audience: towels, bears, hats, jackets, everything. At about half way through the song, there was a platform where the guys were able to come up right to the 300 section, so even the people with the worst seats had a moment of being up close with the members of Big Bang. It’s something that they have always done for their concerts, and not many others seem to do, but is greatly appreciated by fans. At the half way point in the arena, the guys switched sides so that all the members would make their way around (they were split up 3/2) and they sang their second encore song, “Sunset Glow”. The audience sang along loudly while trying to get as close as they could to the members, who were still pulling off as many of the goods as they could to toss into the audience, until they were back down to just their shirts and pants.
By the time they were back to the main stage, another song was started up to introduce the band and dancers, who were all given a moment to shine, which was great. They ended up making a dance circle on stage, as if it were a club with a large audience, and ended up dragging even the stage director on to dance for a moment so he could get his applause. The moment was killed though once Seungri was pulled into the circle and he decided to start doing the dance to “Single Ladies”.
At any other concert, that would be the end, because it had been well over two and a half hours and an exhausting show for any performer. But no, not Big Bang. They began to perform “Fantastic Baby” AGAIN, because it is JUST THAT GOOD. The audience went wild, and despite how tired the guys were, they gave it everything they could, filled with amazing energy that was 100% coming from the audience at that point. The fan chants were thunderous, and the energy was electric because everyone knew this was definitely the last set of songs, no question about it. After “Fantastic Baby”, Seungri began shouting about how they needed to perform “Crooked”. Whether this was actually in the plan or not, I’m not sure. G-Dragon looked completely exhausted as they began to sing his latest single, but he had his bandmates to back him for the times where he was sometimes not getting the words. At times, it seemed that it was Seungri singing it more than G-Dragon, who was really into singing the song. By the end, G-Dragon was lying on the stage, singing along while Seungri and the others took over the role of being incredibly energetic for the song. Then, for one last song (because apparently they hadn’t performed enough and needed something to bring them all down) the concert finally closed with a repeat of “Bad Boy”. It was incredibly clear that the guys were exhausted through the final song, with the fans singing along with them while the guys just seemed to go through the words for the fans.
Finally, at long last, after three hours, the concert closed. With VIPs pleasantly sated with their group’s return to the stage in Korea, and a successful opening for Big Bang, 2014 looks to continue to bring success in their ninth year of promotions. With the promise of a new Big Bang single in the summer, and another G-Dragon album in the works, along with the YG family tour, VIPs have a lot to look forward to in 2014.