Nearly a month has passed since I saw my oppa, my king, my ultimate bias G-Dragon. It took everything I had in me to write part 1 of this Act III: Motte series of blog posts because as trivial as it may seem (“It’s just a concert, tho” — amirite?), the feelings I experienced that night were outrageous. Over and over, all night long, all I kept thinking was how incredibly grateful I was to be there, and never did I imagine I would be so close!
The whole point of this world tour is for G-Dragon to try to separate his stage alias and his actual identity—Kwon Jiyong. The concert was divided into three acts: the first, being his early solo work; the next act focused on his second solo album; and the third act brought us to the present, current version of himself: his real self. Kwon Jiyong.
M.O.T.T.E. stands for “moment of truth, the end.” Does he mean this is the end of G-Dragon? I’m not exactly sure, but the night was emotionally-charged and full of candid moments.
After a long, dramatic introduction, G-Dragon appeared on an elevated stage and dove right into “Heartbreaker,” which was just loud enough to be heard over the fanatical screaming in the arena. Yes, we had just seen him during his soundcheck, but brother, nothing could have prepared me for this. His presence is fucking gigantic. How does he project so much, so far? BECAUSE HE IS A MAGICAL BEING SENT FROM ABOVE.
He did the running-dance thing that he does in the video and I legit swooned up all of my pent-up pre-teen notions of love and romance. Right there in the Air Canada Centre, years of diary pages and Scrunchies were practically wafting out of my mouth.
G-Dragon makes me feel like A GIRL AGAIN.
I don’t think my heart stopped fluttering once all night, even when I was also crying.
Because you know I also cried.
Act 1 had these old school songs:
- A Boy
- But I Love U
When I hear these old songs and watch the old videos, I feel so sad that I didn’t get to be around for that era of G-Dragon, the Heartbreaker-years, the bleached blond-phase. But watching him perform all of those old songs so close in front of me that night….wow. Words can’t describe.
I had all of these images going through my head during the months and weeks leading up to this concert, how I was going to react, how much I would scream, if Henry would have to pick me up from the ground…but the reality of it, what REALLY happened, was that I was stunned, straight-up speechless, immobile. I stood with my hands clutched beneath my chin and vacillated between crying and smiling. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him! HE IS THE CROWN JEWEL OF KOREA.
The second act revolved around his next solo incarnation, which I would describe as being a little harsher, tougher, with more swagger.
- One of a Kind
- That XX
- Black (English version, featuring Skye Ferriera. I really wish he would have stuck with the Korean version with Jenny from Blackpink, though)
- Missing You
- Who You?
- I Love It
The stage during Black was so cool and featuring some of his girl dancers suspended on swings behind clear plastic curtains. I really liked Act 2 a lot, and GD seemed to be more comfortable performing these songs, too.
Before the show started, there was some mildly annoying white girl in front of us, making sure everyone knew she was the biggest BIGBANG fan there, etc. You know the type. But the one thing she said that I adamantly agreed with was, “If I show someone the Crayon video and they don’t like it, I wonder what exactly is wrong with them.”
YES THIS. That video is SO CLEVER, the song IS SO CLEVER, G-Dragon is SO CLEVER. Honestly, this guy is a creative powerhouse. Maybe that’s what most Westerners don’t realize: G-Dragon writes and produces his own stuff. He’s not just handed a song with a bow on it.
During Act 2, a video was played featuring GD’s friends and family responding to the question: Who Is G-Dragon/Kwon Jiyong to you? Admittedly, I had already seen this on one of the fan accounts I follow on Instagram, but I still cried like it was the first time hearing it. And I still think it’s curious that one of the BIGBANG members, Seungri, was not in the video.
Taeyang was though, of course, and his part made me cry almost as much as the cameos from GD’s parents. They must be so proud of him, I can’t even stand it.
Did I mention that G-Dragon brings a live band on tour with him? Well, he does and they’re the perfect accompaniment for him. They add layers to his songs that elevate it to the next level. These guys aren’t just some amateurs off the street, you guys. I looked up the guitarist Justin Lyons because he looked familiar to me: he’s American and has been playing guitar for BIGBANG since 2012! So that’s why he looks familiar, because I’ve seen him on several live videos. G-Dragon had very genuine camaraderie with them too and that was one of my favorite things to watch, I addition to G-Dragon’s dancing and G-Dragon’s snarly expressions and G-Dragon’s sparkly clothes and G-Dragon G-Dragon G-Dragon…..
Huge shoutout to that backing band though.
Every time he came back on stage in new clothes, I thought, “HOW CAN HE KEEP LOOKING BETTER AND BETTER?” Only G-Dragon could pull off those looks. And that’s why he’s also a fashion icon in addition to being the biggest Kpop idol in the world.
I’m fascinated with him—and his parents. You don’t just learn how to captivate millions of people, you’re born with that magical ability. And I wonder, when did his parents first start noticing that he was more than just a basic human being. The whole Kpop industry in and of itself is interesting to explore and research, a total rabbit hole that you won’t want to climb out of, but G-Dragon is the most alluring out of it all. I could talk about him for hours, which is usually what happens at work until I check myself and put a cork in it before I get moved to a different floor…
…in a janitor’s closet.
But sometimes Lauren or Todd will casually ask me something kpop-related and the words are rushing and elbowing each other to escape my mouth like the doors to a Black Friday sale just opened at the Storytime Store.
Even for someone like Henry, whose heart isn’t nearly as invested in all of this, it was a spectacular event full of fire, confetti, amazing dancing, and G-Dragon being flawless and charismatic. One of my favorite parts was when he was alone on stage, just him and a microphone, talking to us in perfect English. It felt so personal! How does he do it!? Everyone started chanting “Kwon Jiyong” again and my heart blew up like a bloody balloon. Being surrounded by thousands of people who feel the same about him as I do was therapeutic, relieving, cathartic. It’s hard being alone in this back home! I took this all in, absorbed it, and felt validated in my balls-to-the-wall obsession. I can’t imagine having the restraint to just “casually” like him and judging by the people around me, being unrestrained is a real epidemic. :)
Every time he came to our side of the side, I cried. His eyes are so sparkly—how does he get them to sparkle in real life?!
The third act started with a video of G-Dragon’s monologue about what it’s like to be him, how he has been G-Dragon for so many years now that he’s beginning to forget who he really is. It was raw, unfiltered, and heartbreaking. I know for sure I wasn’t the only one crying when he was broadcasting his existential crisis for everyone to see. There was even a part when he says something about how everything expects that he must be living this grand life, he must be so happy with his success….but then he said, “Not so much lately.” I think that’s one of the things that has drawn me to him: he has many facets, and many different personalities. When I see him in candid videos with the rest of BIGBANG, he can be downright giddy. He looks happy and comfortable with his friends. When I see him on stage, he looks fierce, and my first impression of him was actually that he seemed mean, maybe egomaniacal. When I see him in pictures taken by paparazzi, he looks alone and sad.
He is an enigma.
Watching this confessional tore me up. I could relate to some of what he said—clearly not the fame part, but the feeling alone when from the outside, it doesn’t seem like I should feel that way. I could also relate a little bit to not always knowing who I am. I show different sides to different people and does anyone really even know the real me?
He said he wants to be Kwon Jiyong again, and asked us if we would be OK with that. Everyone started chanting “Kwon Jiyong” at that moment and it was beautiful and powerful and here come the tears again. I just want to hug him so hard and tell him he is loved. Try to imagine how isolated his life must be though, any celebrity really.
G-Dragon managed to create utter intimacy in an arena filled with like 20,000 people.
The third act started right as the video monologue ended with the words, “Do you even know who you are?” GD performed four songs from his 5-song mini-album, aptly titled “Kwon Jiyong.”
- Middle Fingers Up
- Divina Commedia
Everyone went nuts for this act.
Let me tell you some things about “Kwon Jiyong” — it consists of five ultra-personal songs written by GD. It feels different than his past work — it’s more raw, intimate, honest. And it RULES. I preordered it a few months ago (duh) — it broke records all over Asia, made it to #1 on charts all over the world, and is essentially art. Ever the innovator, he eschewed the physical CD, bypassed the more common digital release, opting instead to package this new masterpiece on a USB.
It still comes in the jewel case like a CD, so you don’t have to worry about losing it. The USB stick in engraved with his name, birthday, and blood type (more important to Koreans than astrological signs) in his mother’s handwriting, and painted with a red ink to symbolize blood/birth. It’s ingenious, really. And once you have the USB, you have access to a website which is frequently updated with content so it’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
For instance, the new video for “Bullshit” was released last week on GD’s birthday, but only on the USB. It feels like being part of a secret club!
(Until someone inevitably puts it on YouTube, but hey—at least real fans got a few hours of feeling exclusive.)
The worst part about the third act is that it meant the show was coming to an end. No one wanted to say goodbye! When he left the stage before performing his huge single “Untitled (2014),” I knew he had to come back out for an encore. And when that encore only contained “Crooked” (and also “This Love” was playing while he introduced his band and singers, because he’s a true artist), I started to worry.
Of course, no one would leave after that. We knew there had to be more.
And just like that, his voice came booming out of the darkness, singing the opening line of “Untitled.” And when the screens turned on, we could see that he wasn’t on that stage—he was walking along through the photo pit, right next to the barricade! I had seen some videos of him doing this at some of the US shows and hoped he would do the same here, and there he was! He started on the left side and it quickly occurred to me that he was going to be right in front of me eventually—I felt like a woman on the edge, you guys. Totally unhinged, teetering on panic’s threshold, with full-blown shakes.
I’m not exaggerating—my legs were jiggling like Jello, every nerve in my body was electric, my face felt blanched. I thrust my phone at Henry and said, “HERE YOU DO THIS” because I was losing control of my motor skills and didn’t want to deal with capturing this Korean god on video. I just wanted to stand there and take it in with my own eyes. So I stood there, shaking violently, hands clasped under my chin, sobbing.
When he made it to our side, I couldn’t believe my luck. He was mere feet away from me. Right there, in person, this inspiring artist who helped me turn my life around without even knowing it—he was right there, with his perfect face and friendly smile, eyes sparkling, singing flawlessly into our crying faces.
If the girl behind me hadn’t been standing so close, I think I would have collapsed. No jokes here. My legs were weak and wobbly, friends. This was almost too much for me to handle and part of me wanted to bury my face in Henry’s side and shut out the whole world before I had a nervous breakdown.
This video was viewed nearly 50,000 times in Instagram! I have never had a video viewed even a fraction of that before. That’s the power of Kwon Jiyong. <3
OMFG. I can’t handle it.
I have a video of the whole song on YouTube but these are the best clips. Props to Henry for enduring all the girls pushing and shoving him. (To be honest though, this crowd was amazing and polite, I couldn’t believe it.)
And then he walked through a door on the side of the stage, the lights came on, and the staff started shouting for everyone to leave. Amazing, magical night. There are no other words in my vocabulary oeuvre right now, just amazing and magical. I will always associate those words with this night, forever. This was the best birthday of my whole life and I will never, ever forget it. I was absolutely on fire when we walked to the subway, talking a mile a minute while absorbing all of the beautiful Korean conversations taking place around me.
I know I must really love him because I’m not sore at ALL from all the standing we did. Usually my back hurts and I start to get antsy halfway through long concerts like that, but I didn’t feel any pain at all! I must have physically removed myself from my body that night in all the GD excitement. I told Henry all of this and asked him if he felt the same way.
“Nope. I’m in fucking pain,” he casually answered.
But he did admit that he enjoyed the show and felt it was 100% worth it. He might not worship the cherry blossoms GD walks beneath like I do, but he thinks GD is a great performer and will openly admit that to anyone who sneeringly asks him how awful the night was for him.
YOU GUYS THIS WAS THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. How will this ever be topped? Maybe if I get to see BIGBANG someday—IN SEOUL. ON MY BIRTHDAY.
A girl can dream.
When we came home from Toronto, Chris & Monica suggested that we go out for ice cream do they could hear about the show, and for the next full week at work, people were coming over to my desk and asking, “Well?? How was it?” That meant so much and made me feel so good to know that a lot of people seriously understood how giant this event was for me! I wish I could turn it into a pillow and relive the whole night every time I lay my head down.