Me: I haven’t written about G-Dragon yet. I don’t even know how to start it!
Chooch: Just start by saying “OMG YOU GUYS.”
Me: That’s pretty much how I start all my posts — DONT YOU READ MY BLOG?!
OMG YOU GUYS. July 30, 2017 was the best day of my life (even though I still cried & threw a fit).
Let me back up.
Gotta get that clotheline ready for all the dirty laundry I’m about to hang up like a cheap, tacky outsider art show.
2016 was the worst year of my life. All this tragic shit went down with my family, the great America tragedy known as the 2016 Presidential Election happened, and these things combined to form the perfect storm inside my head. I can’t remember the last time I felt so low, had so many suicidal thoughts, and basically fought with myself on the downlow everyday to stay alive.
I didn’t talk about it with anyone. That was my first mistake. I kept saying I was fine. The shit with my family was fine. The repressed memories swelling up inside of me were fine. The uncontrollable sobbing over TV commercial was fine.
Nothing to worry about!
I was going to a lot of concerts by myself that year too, seeing lots of sad boy bands, crying by myself in a crowd of strangers and feeling more alone than I ever have in my life.
But I didn’t talk about it. Because when I do, it’s always like… a joke. Silly Erin. Dramatic Erin. Because when you can’t put your finger on one solid, tangible problem, people don’t understand. That’s the awesome thing about mental illness — if you don’t “have” it, you can’t possibly comprehend so it sounds like a complete flight of fancy when someone tries to explain to you that they see their emotions in color and cry when they step on a leaf BECAUSE THAT POOR LEAF. Everything is anthropomorphic. Everything is fragile. There is so much sourceless pain.
I decided to have a Christmas party. I wanted to try to end the year on a happy note. When you have been suffering with bipolar since you were a kid, you find ways to bandage it. And for me, it was always having parties. Trying to fill my house with as many friends in hopes it would do the same to the void in my heart.
I was making a party playlist which stopped Henry in his tracks on his way to the kitchen.
“Oh my god, do you want people to leave your party feeling suicidal?!” Henry explained at the funeral dirge-like goth renditions of Christmas songs I was adding left and right.
“FINE THEN ILL PUT SOME KPOP IN THERE TOO,” I cried. And then, “Aw, I forgot how much I liked these Kpop songs!”
It inspired me to start doing my KpopX workouts again. I had been gaining weight again after years of steadily losing it and that’s always a tell-tale sign that I’m in a rut.
And then it just spiraled from there, the Kpop stuff. I started watching music videos, YouTube videos about Korean food, Seoul travel vlogs….it was replacing my constant CNN watching. I actually stopped watching regular cable altogether. I became obsessed with the way the Korean language sounded, how the dialect slowed down my racing thoughts.
Learning about the culture gave me a healthy outlet. I threw myself into it headfirst. And for the first time in decades, I wasn’t listening to music that made me cry. Kpop was making me so happy. It was helping me lose weight. It was filling that void and giving me something to be excited about it.
Oh, I get so much shit for it. Lots of rolled eyes, lots of being told that it’s cheesy or stupid and that’s fine, because I know that this cheesy stupid thing has saved my life.
But there was one thing that came out of this that stood out among the k-Dramas, the variety shows, and my need to squirt gochujang on every foodstuff—and that thing was a Korean powerhouse named G-Dragon. At first, I didn’t get it. I knew that he was the biggest Kpop star in the world, had high-profile friends even here in America, and was bacisally Korea’s national treasure. But then the more BIGBANG videos I watched, the more live performances I YouTubed, the more variety show appearances I sat trough, the more I understood.
G-Dragon is fucking everything.
For the first time probably since I discovered Jonny Craig in 2007, I felt really excited about music again. I wanted to open my front door and scream BUT DO YOU KNOW G-DRAGON? to every asshole walking past my house.
I had it bad. I dragged Henry down with me. Soon he became a BIGBANG fan too and honestly acknowledged G-Dragon’s greatness. This was something we could enjoy together. It was bringing us closer, even, this whole Korea thing. I was suddenly less irritable, less panicked, less morose.
I was giddy again. Laughing again. Excited to come home from work and dive deeper into this new area of my life.
The bad thing about coming into BIGBANG so late into the game is that all five members are gearing up for their mandatory military enlistment soon (one has already enlisted), so I figured I might never be able to see them live — who knows if they will resume things as a band once they’re all out again.
So when G-Dragon announced his solo world tour and I saw that North America was on the list, Henry didn’t even bother dragging his feet. We got VIP tickets to the Toronto show which fell on my birthday—and now you know, maybe, why this concert was so special—-no, so important to me.
We got to the Air Canada Center around 2:45 that afternoon. My VIP itinerary said that check-in was beginning at 3:45, and anyone who got there after 6 would miss the soundcheck. I have never done anything like this before and very rarely even go to big concerts in arenas (I’m used to shows in small clubs where tickets are $15!) so I wanted to get there kind of early, especially since we saw that there was already a line when we passed by earlier that day.
There were a good bit of people in line when we arrived but not so much that I felt overwhelmed. There were two lines, what we figured were gold and silver, so we got in the end of the longer line after asking if it was silver. No one seemed to know for sure but everyone I asked said they were silver VIP, so….blind faith.
This was when I noticed that the demographics here were not as diverse as KCON – it was mostly Asian people in line with us and I loved it because Korean was being spoken around all sides of me! There was a really cute young Chinese couple behind me that I was obsessed with.
After about an hour of standing in line, the girl in front of us started to wonder why the other line was so short. She suspected that we could stand in both lines, and that’s exactly what she was told when she went and asked one of the staff members. She came back and pulled her friend with her into the much shorter line, but I was hesistant to follow. Several other people eventually followed suit and then Henry went over and asked someone for himself. He too was told that the first line was for silver VIPs so when he came back and told me, I in turn told the cute couple behind me because they didn’t speak English well and I didn’t want to leave them behind. (The girl part of the couple was wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt and Henry thought this was the oddest thing.)
And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we got to the other line, another LiveNation guy came over and started yelling about how that was not the line for silver VIPS and he made us all turn around, which meant we had to go all the way to the back of the original line, which was so long and I wanted to cry. I felt doubly terrible because I dragged those poor Chinese kids down with me.
(Well, they’re prpbably not “poor” per se, because those fucking VIP tickets were pretty exorbitant.)
On our walk of shame, another guy started shouting, “If you DO NOT have an orange wristband, get in the left line!”
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDIDNG?? That was the line we were just kicked out of 20 seconds ago! Luckily, we hadn’t made it too far on our walk of shame, so we were able to turn around and still get pretty far up in the good line, maybe about 40 heads back.
Turns out, the people with the orange wristbands were the ones who gotten there extra early and got pre-wristbanded for their efforts. So they got to check in first. There weren’t too many of them, but we still had to stand in line for nearly another hour and I wanted to cry. Meanwhile, the girls who were in front of us originally, the ones who started this whole line fiasco (even though they WERE right) had sidled up next to me and pleaded for me to pretend like they were with me so that they could stand in line with us, because what happened wasn’t fair and they had ended up nearly at the back of the line.
I did feel bad because they weren’t at any fault! They were given the correct info and ended up being punished because some dickhead didn’t understand his job. So I said fine, and we introduced ourselves to each other (the one was Yolanda, but I can’t remember the other girl’s name). We commiserated for awhile about how unorganized the set-up was and then went back to standing in silence because standing around is exhausting you guys. I kept yawning for absolutely no reason.
By 5:00, we had made it past security, picked up our tickets, got a wristband and our Act III: Motte gift bag which included our VIP soundcheck lanyards and bullclips from G-Dragon’s peaceminusone clothing line. I was so happy!
A LiveNation lady jovially explained to us that we were free to mill about because our wristbands were pre-numbered so we didn’t need to worry about losing our spots in line. I was really happy about that because that meant we were going to be allowed into soundcheck in the same order we checked in.
HOWEVER, I noticed that my number was one greater than Henry’s which I found odd since I was given my wristband first. I also thought our number was pretty high in relation to how many people were ahead of us in the original line.
And that’s when some terribly annoying and incompetent, pigeon-toed Live Nation girl came over to us and demanded to see our numbers.
“OK YOU’RE BASICALLY AT THE END OF THE LINE BECAUSE IT STOPS AT 400,” she vocal-fried in our faces. She led us to the back of a line, and I noticed that we passed the girls who I left get in line behind us. And then we just kept walking further and further back.
“What the hell?” I said to Henry, pointing out all the people we passed who checked in after us. And then the dumb bitch kept putting people behind us who should have been in front of us, and when she would realize we were out of place, she would freaking call us out in front of everyone like we were fucking derelicts who couldn’t count.
Henry wanted to ignore her, but I was worried about causing a scene on a day that was supposed to be the best day of my life (sorry Chooch), so I kept sighing and stepping out of line to get to the back, until finally I had enough, looked her dead in the eyes and snapped, “THEN STOP PUTTING PEOPLE BEHIND US, YOU KNOW BY NOW WHAT OUR NUMBERS ARE.”
And she literally never bothered us again.
However, another girl in charge of counting walked by, so I snagged her and asked her exactly how this numbering system worked. She assured me that the numbers on the wristbands were chronological and asked, “Then why are people who were behind me in line out there now waaaaay head of me in this line?”
She swore that was impossible, and I was like, “Well, I’m not making this up. I think that wristbands got mixed up at some point. I figured out that girls who I let get in line behind me were numbers 322 and 323, but Henry and I were 395 and 396.
How is that possible?!
The writsbands were in sheets, and we think that sheets got out of order. It’s the only way.
This girl seemed like she genuinely wanted to help, and she went to talk to two other people who were in charge, but short of making up two imaginary numbers for us, I knew nothing was going to be done. They would have to actually admit that they fucked up. NO WAY LiveNation is ever going to do that.
We ended up so far back in line and I was devastated. All that waiting we did, and now we were probably going to be pushed all the way to the back once we got onto the floor. Then I noticed that my Chinese buddies were in front of us! And there were three young Korean girls behind me who were definitely in front of me when we were in the other line, so we bonded over the fact that someone in charge didn’t know how to count and then I felt better that it wasn’t just me and Henry. I bet there were about 20 of us at least who got numerically fucked.
But then one of the girls behind me was talking about how something similar happened to one of her friends at a BTS show, and how her friend started crying about it. “I mean, I was like ‘Girl, cry about it if that will make you feel better, but it’s not going to change anything’,” and she went back to playing some game on her phone, leaving me to digest this. And she was right. I could stand there and be salty, I could get loud and demand justice, but for what? Nothing was going to change. This was the hand I was dealt, I was cheated, but at the end of the day, I was still there, in line to see G-Dragon, and wasn’t that what really mattered?
And just like that, I was OK. Especially once the band started soundchecking and we realized the back of the stage was literally right through a door next to us. My Chinese friends were giddily trying to sneak through to get a closer look and it was so funny to watch. Everything was good again! We all giggled and people-watched (there were so many guys trying to be like GD) and before we knew it, the line started to move—we were finally being let onto the floor for the soundcheck!
The floor was separated in the middle by a barricade and a line of security. We got to pass right through to the area closest to the stage and each staff member we passed very firmly warned that absolutely no cameras or phones were permitted during soundcheck. Believe me, after my hi-touch experience at KCON, I wasn’t about to test this. I shoved my phone in my purse and didn’t touch it once—I paid a lot of money for this and I was going to be a perfect little girl with good posture and hands behind my back.
Surprisingly, we were about 6 heads back the stage, after that whole numbering fiasco. There was just so much room available in the VIP area that it really didn’t matter after it was all said and done.
GD came out around 7:30 for soundcheck and everyone went ballistic. I had imagined this moment in my head for months, a plethora of scenarios were possible…but my reaction was one of semi-paralysis. I sincerely couldn’t move, and my throats felt like it was swollen shut — I was in a state of absolute awe, the highest level of starstruck unlocked.
There he was, on that stage in front of me, dressed casually, all in black: black bucket hat, black face mask, and what appeared to be a pair of jeans slung across one shoulder in a fashion statement only GD could pull off.
I WAS SHOOK.
Never did I think I would get the opportunity to see this brilliant diamond shine in front of me, yet there he was: sparkling even in black, shining even with his face half-hidden beneath a mask. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t talk.
All I could do was straight cry.
This person, this idol—he is everything. His charisma and energy has managed to pick me up from 3000+ away. There are just no words to explain it, but I am captivated by him—his words, his voice, his movements. I can’t believe I wasted so many years on Jonny Craig when Kwon Jiyong was there the whole time!
And even in spite of the incessant NO RECORDING warnings, people were still doing it blatantly, causing security to push and shove their way through the crowd to issue warnings and remove the offenders from the soundcheck if necessary. Some of them didn’t learn and their arms would shoot straight back into the air with their phones.
Someone was able to get this much footage, somehow:
His soundcheck was chill, a bit lethargic even, but gave us a taste of what was to come and by the time he walked off stage 20 minutes later, people were desperately screaming for him to come back.
I put my head into Henry’s chest and wailed, “I CANT BELIEVE HE WAS JUST RUGHT THERE.”
We had about about another hour to wait for the show to start after that. Regular ticket holders were now being allowed in, and everyone was just milling about at that point, getting food and talking.
It was right around then that Henry realized there was a great open space at the right side of the of the stage so we usurped that prime real estate—this put me three heads back from the barricade! The view was perfect and no one was crowding up on us. All that stressing we did over wristband numbers and look – we still got the most comfortable spot. I felt so lucky.
Lol, Henry the groupie.
We were entertained by G-Dragon videos playing on the large screens to the sides of the stage. Henry enjoyed watching some of the people bust out GD’s signature moves. I mildly hated the blond haired white girl in front of us who acted as an authority of Kpop and would pause after each of her cocky statements to see if anyone was listening. When she haughtily said that Taeyang can’t carry a solo tour because he’s too boring, I pretty much blocked her out.
However, no one bugged me all night. Kpop fans are so chill! I can get used to this. (My bank account won’t ever get used to it, though….)