Amidst the hustle and bustle of randomized fan meets, dance workshops, YouTuber guest panels, and many, many food trucks, the real crowd puller for the massive KCON conventions has always been their massive M Countdown concert. Growing over double in attendance and providing more vendors and activities, KCON has expanded year after year into a truly vast Korean cultural experience. And yet, although there was activity after activity all around them, fans were still seen lining up hours in advance to make sure they’d get a good view of the idols to come.
Before the listed lineup of VIXX, IU, B1A4, Teen Top, and G-Dragon, attendees were treated to a very exciting pre-show kicked off by Jeremy Thurber- an American pop singer songwriter who helped pen lyrics for TVQX’s 2012 Japanese album Tree and has been featured on a number of Chad Future’s Kpop covers. Jeremy Thurber rocked the audience with SONG, setting a high bar for the energy level as he body rolled between each section of the stage. He was followed by Jun Sung Ahn- otherwise as JuNCurryAhn- the winner of Kollaboration Chicago 2012 and popular violinist and performer. He wowed the KCON stage with a beautiful instrumental of Taeyang’s “눈,코,입 (Eyes, Nose, Lips)” that engaged the entire audience in singing the chorus. He then put his violin down and followed with an amazingly energetic dance performance of Beast’s “Good Luck”!
Jonathan Park (also known as Dumbfounded) and Danny Im, from 1TYM and host from Mnet’s original Danny From LA then took over as the MC’s for the night. Lee Seungi surprised fans pre-performance to thank them for coming. “I hope there will be many more moments where we can meet,” he said smiling to the roughly 25,000 people in the audience. As he left the lights dimmed low and the multiple screens above and surrounding the stage flashed introducing Ken, Leo, Hongbin, N, Hyuk, and Ravi– the six members of VIXX who rose to the stage on moving platforms and were greeted with near-deafening screams of excitement from the audience!
VIXX opened the show with “저주인형 (Voodoo Doll)”, their dark hit from their first full album Voodoo. Fans went wild as they kept to the darker theme of things with “어둠속을밝혀줘 (Light up the Darkness)”, a song not usually performed live! The boys added an extra treat, too, as they off to different parts of the stage and rolled their bodies to the chorus. Turning to the north side of the stage after, each member took to a mic stand for “대답은너니까 (Only U)”, serenading the audience with their jazzy-rock R&B sound and smooth vocals. VIXX then regrouped in the center of the circle stage for their latest summer single “기적 (Eternity)” and awed the fans with their smooth body rolls and engaging choreography! Finally, they rounded their set out with the always intense “다칠준비가돼있어 (On and On)” finishing a strong set with even stronger choreography as they sang, “I need therapy, lalala therapy” and ending on a sharp group pose.
The crowd’s energy remained high as “Korea’s little sister” IU stepped on stage for her first ever American performance. Standing out in her own pair of beautiful red shoes, she started out with “분홍신(Red Shoes)” surrounded by her incredibly talented backup dancers. She continued through with the cotton candy feeling “You & I”. In an impressive display of English, IU thanked the crowd for their support of her and Kpop. She also expressed how nervous she was to be on this stage and how she wasn’t very good in English- though she seemed nearly perfect! The stage was then awash with white speckles as two disco balls were lowered for “Friday (금요일에만나요)”. Fans went wild as Teen Top’s Niel was raised into the stage to join IU for the bridge of the song. The ambiance created by the beautiful lights and mixed with the sweet vocals from Niel and IU created such a light and wonderful feeling across the entire crowd. IU spiked the energy back up with “Hey (있잖아)” accompanied by a driving rock beat and a whole crew of cheerleaders to back her up and ended on a high note (literally and figuratively!) with “Good Day”!
Dressed in pseudo-school boy outfits, the boys of B1A4 followed IU first with their quirky and fun “(이게무슨일이야) What’s Happening?” Just like VIXX and IU before them, B1A4 made sure to treat fans on all sides of the stage to their performance as they transitioned from “(이게무슨일이야) What’s Happening?” into the softer, synth heavy ballad “없구나(Lonely).” After an introduction to all the members, the boys of B1A4 provided an explanation to their latest summer promotional track “Solo Day” and shared that they’re all still “solo” before jumping into their heel-clicking choreography and a head-bobbing beat. Splitting apart and taking to different areas of the stage, B1A4 cooled things down with “물한잔(A Glass of Water)”, pulling out water guns and dousing fans as they sang “Everybody, put your hands up and spread them out! Forget everything and drink a glass of water”! They finished up with their cowboy-chic “잘자요굿나잇 (Baby Goodnight)” leaving fans saddened to see them go but eager for their upcoming US Road Trip tour that had been announced earlier in the day!
The lights dimmed once more as the echo of “Teen Top we gonna rock it, drop it, top it, hey don’t stop it pop it” resonated through the room and was quickly picked up by the audience. The crowd sang, and fan chatted, and rocked out (rightly so!) to “장난아냐(Rocking)” as Teen Top took command of the LA stage. The boys kept the enthusiasm high as they went straight into “긴생머리그녀(Miss Right).” The boys then introduced themselves, L.Joe taking the lead. As they spoke, six boxes were placed on the stage behind them eliciting a large amount of cheers from the audience who was incredibly ready to see the boys perform their body rolling filled choreography for “To You”! Teen Top rounded out their set with “미치겠어(Crazy)” and “Rockstar”.
The circular screens dropped to the stage as the crowd grew even louder. The anticipation for the final act and Saturday night’s headliner was high as “G-DRAGON” could be read on every screen. The artist himself slowly rose up to the stage, with a peace sign pointed up high before he broke into his 2013 hit “One Of A Kind”. G-Dragon smiled and moved across the circular stage with his backup dancers, pausing once to smack one girl’s butt before bouncing quickly away to the smooth beat! Swag levels stayed high for “MichiGO! (미치GO!)” as G-Dragon danced around the stage and over to different groups of fans, paying attention to each side of the stage and sending different areas wild whenever he’d approach! Before his piano-pop track “니가뭔데 (Who You?)” G-Dragon made sure to set the stage by repeating the question, “Who am I?” The crowd keenly ate it up and shouted his name right back at him- not that G-Dragon needs much of an introduction in the Kpop world! G-dragon also took a moment to address the Korean-native fans in the audience, thanking them in Korean for coming out to support him in Los Angeles.
G-Dragon’s “삐딱하게(Crooked)” was the next song and fans sang and screamed along as G-Dragon and his backup dancers stumbled around the stage, fully embodying the self-destructive message of the British-pop inspired song. For his final performance, G-Dragon asked the audience to “get their cray on”! “When I say swag, you say check,” G-Dragon said casually to the 25,000+ people who all had their eyes on him! With smoke cannons, an army of backup dancers, and a sea of light sticks, G-Dragon transformed the first night’s concert into an amazing party as he rounded out the night with “Crayon”!
As he fell onto his back on the last beat and the lights started to dim the rest of the lineup returned to the stage to say one more goodbye to the fans and thank them for coming and supporting K-pop and Korean culture. Fans cheered back at their idols, not wanting to them to leave but incredibly eager for what night two would have to bring!