Just Bananas About: Week of 8/1/16 – Part 1

What a jam-packed weekend!  It seems like I was constantly on the go, go, go.  There was so much to see and so much to do that after the weekend was over I just had to sleep it all off.  I apologize for the late post but because there was so much going on this weekend and a full two day concert, it took a long time to get the photos sorted and videos uploaded so here is Part 1 of the 2016 KCON LA weekend.

So the difference with KCON LA is that it has always been bigger and frankly, better.  Let’s face it.  They’ve had 5 years to let this event grow to what it is today while this year was NY’s 2nd year.  The convention took place at the LA Convention Center in Downtown LA which started last Friday.

Me and my fellow panelists opened up the convention with one of the first panels which was all about 90’s K-Pop (moderated by yours truly).  I’m hoping that it provided some interesting insight about how 90’s K-Pop artist broke barriers and influenced and continues to influence the groups that we love today.

Afterwards, I walked around the convention center and visited a lot of the booths there.  I did a lot of shopping.  A LOT.  Although, I didn’t actually step in the Flower Boys Café, I did pass by it and was intrigued by the concept.  Another panelist told me about the concept which was Flower Boys (or men) serving you coffee and other drinks and the place serving as a short respite from the melee of the convention center.  As you’d expect, there was a lot of K-Pop music blasting and people dancing.  The KCON weekend itself was filled with a lot of energy so this place served as a nice, calm place to recharge.

My day 2 of the convention began with the GFriend fan engagement, which I personally didn’t attend myself but I had my associate take photographs for me.  They were cute in their bright yellow outfits and I’m sure it was their first time in LA as a group.

While my associate was at the fan engagement, I prepared for my next panel which was all about K-Indie music.  As much as we love K-Pop and as much as the word “K-Pop” tends to encompass all Korean music these days, it was nice to showcase a few artists that aren’t as well known to people.  If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know that I love K-Indie music as equally as mainstream K-Pop so it was a great to be able to talk about different facets of the industry with fellow experts.

However, I had to duck out of the panel a few minutes early to race to the Turbo fan engagement.  I mean, I loved the members of Turbo since they were newbies in the 90’s so when I saw that I got a ticket for the fan engagement, it was too hard to pass up.  Mikey is from LA so he had no problems speaking to the fans in English and I know that Kim Jong Kook is somewhat conversational in English as well as he often travels back and forth between LA a lot.  Kim Jung Nam was the only out of the three that had to have Host Danny Lim translate for him.  Afterwards, like with all of the other artists’ fan engagements, the stars took a celebrity with their fans.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for details about the concert.  The night started off with the pre-show with Host Danny Lim again just to get the crowd hyped up.

And of course, JunCurryAhn showcased his amazing skills as a violinist/dancer as the staple KCON pre-show star.  Followed by the Hip Hop duo, Eluphant.  Then, we were treated to Quincy Jones awarding an achievement award to a Berklee Music College student.  If this is what the pre-show line up is like then I think I’m going to have to make the trip to LA every year.

Finally though, Lee Min Ho kicks off the main event with opening comments.  Now I was sitting in the 3rd row from the stage but all the way to stage right.  While I always thought Lee Min Ho was great on screen, I wasn’t quite prepared for how pretty he would be in person.  You know how you’re never really sure if it’s the project that they’re in that makes a star who they are?  Yes, to a certain extent it probably is but Lee Min Ho is just sooo tall and pretty.  I could have sworn his eyes twinkled when he smiled.

I.O.I started things off with their two main hits, “Dream Girls” and “Pick Me”.  The hard thing about capturing a group with a lot of members is trying to just get them all in frame.  However, the other hard thing about where we were sitting is that we mainly saw them from behind whenever they walked forward to the center and front stages.  The other problem I’ve noticed and you will also notice in the videos is that when you are too close to the stage, the speakers are right above you and when the bass it hits, it crashes right in the mics of the camera.  Boo…  Lesson of the day: Closer is not always better.

The official MC’s of the concert itself were Key and Amber.

They introduced Dean who crooned his way into all the female hearts that night.  Afterwards, he literally walks by me on his way back to the backstage section and all I got were blurry shots because I wasn’t prepared for it.  Sigh, so much going on and so much to pay attention to.

Then, we got the other big girl group of the Saturday night concert, GFriend.  They looked so lovely in their bright yellow outfits.

Zico explodes on to the stage with some of his collaboration numbers, including “Boys and Girls” and “풀어 (Pour Up) (Release (Pour Up))” from Dean’s album.

Amber shakes her brass in her solo number, “Shake That Brass” but I also loved that she was able to switch that up with her emotional performance of “Borders”.

I always feel nostalgic for anything 90’s K-Pop related so I admit that my favorite portion of the night was seeing the rookie groups performing some of Turbo’s greatest hits such “Goodbye Yesterday” and “검은 고양이 네로 (Black Cat Nero)” by Astro and GFriend, respectively. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture the Astro performance because the Toyota car on the stage was raised and it blocked our entire view of the group’s performance.

Then, Turbo comes on stage to perform their latest number, “다시 (Again)” and oldie, “Twist King” accompanied by the rookie groups who provided the dancing. As fit as they might be, or rather as Kim Jong Kook might be, you just won’t be as spry doing those routines in your 40’s. Kim Jong Kook wraps up their set with his hit, “사랑스러워 (Lovable)”.

Block B continued to keep the energy going with “Toy” and “HER” but I liked that the normally rowdy bunch can tone it down and bring the emotion for “몇년후에 (A Few Years Later)”.

Ending the night for the Saturday concert was SHINee, whom I’ve missed a lot. They did some of their latest hits like “View” and “Everybody” but I was also surprised that they did a few emotional numbers as well. I couldn’t help get a wee bit teary-eyed.  Sniff, sniff, missed you guys.

That’s the end of Part 1 but stayed tuned for Part 2 and the Sunday KCON festivities.

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