For those not in the kpop loop, Taeyang is one of the members of Bigbang, inarguably one of the biggest kpop groups of all time (this is pure numerical fact, you guys). And like a lot of kpop idols, Taeyang occasionally strays from his group and does the solo thing. With an impending military enlistment in his very near future and Bigbang currently on a hiatus, Taeyang churned out a beautiful solo album called White Night late August and set off on his first ever solo tour of North America.
G-Dragon is my ultimate bias but I do love Taeyang a lot as well. If I had to compare him to an American artist, I’d have to go with Ne-Yo — he’s got the smooth R&B sensibilities — mixed with the sick dancing of Chris Brown. I might actually enjoy Taeyang’s dancing even more than his vocals, and watching live Bigbang performances imakes it hard to ignore how joyful he looks.
The Chicago date for the White Night Tour was conveniently set for Labor Day weekend, almost like Taeyang was handing me an invitation in one perfectly white-gloved hand. Henry of course was like FML because I had recently decided that I didn’t want to go to Riot Fest this year because the line-up wasn’t tickling me, so he basically got rid of one Chicago road trip and then almost immediately replaced it with another. And full disclosure, one basic (i.e. no soundcheck, send-off, etc) ticket was pretty close to the same amount as my three-day Riot Fest pass. Totally fucking worth it. (Thankfully, I was able to sell my Riot Fest pass though!)
Henry and Chooch came to Chicago with me but since we don’t own our house and couldn’t take out a second mortgage, three Taeyang tickets were slightly out of reach, so I went to the show alone. They were total baes though and at least rode the L with me to the Aragon Ballroom so I wouldn’t have a panic attack. Hey, isn’t it enough that I at least go to concerts alone?
Since I was just a basic old P2 ticket holder, I didn’t bother getting there super early since I knew I was already going to be at least two sections away from the stage, so instead I rolled up right when doors opened at 6. I don’t know what I expected, that I could just waltz right into the venue straight from the L station? Because nope. So many nopes. A Wacky Worm full of nopes. There was a huge line that wrapped around the theater and into the empty lot alongside of it. These were all P2 people. I couldn’t believe it.
There were two long lines parallel with the building, and then numerous smaller lines facing the theater, which you can kind of see in that picture up there. A security guard put me at the end of the last line, and then a girl eventually made her way down my line, checking our tickets and wristbanding us.
Taeyang White Night, P2 baby!
Two guys capped off the end of my line, and I listened with slight amusement as they people-watched and checked out the girls in line. Within the first fifteen minutes, though, they noticed me in spite of my natural invisibility, and the one with curly hair asked, “Excuse me, are you here by yourself?”
Forty alarms went off in my head, but this was a Taeyang show—-what was the worst that could happen?
After I admitted that I was, he said, “OK, well, you’re now a part of our conversation” and just like that, I became concert line pals with John and Paco. Paco was also attending the show alone, having driven there from St. Louis, but John was waiting out the line-standing with him out of solidarity. THAT IS A GOOD FRIEND, unlike Henry and Chooch who watched from a distance as I got in line and then mouthed “KBYE” as they ran back to the L.
Paco kept making up The Weeknd-esque songs about standing in line, and I couldn’t stop laughing. This was so much better than standing alone!
“Haha, this was when I was trying to get a picture of the Aragon marquee and Paco threw his hand in front of my phone,” I giddily told Henry later, whose response was, “You’re so dumb.”
After about an hour of people-watching, the line started to move and we eventually got to move over to the line that got to enter the venue next. The staff had this line-formation down to a science, and it moved flawlessly. Props to those people for keeping shit organized and efficient unlike those LiveNation motherfuckers in Toronto. I’m not sure if these people were Aragon staff, KPOP ME staff, or what, but they are fucking good at their job and I wanted to tell them that when I saw them after the show, but I was caught up in a current of happy Taeyang fans high on Hanguel.
I lost Paco inside the doors when girls had to get in different lines for the dreaded pat down / bag check, so that was Sad Times. However, this just meant that I got to get lost in my own little world during the show, which is the best thing about going to shows alone, in my opinion. I don’t have to be Erin for a few hours and it’s a goddamn relief.
I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry to get to the stage area, because the lobby of the Aragon was stunning and I would have liked to take more pictures. At the end of the hallway, there were steps that went up and then split to the left and to the right, which then spilled out into the ballroom. It was so big! It had a vintage carnival feel to it, and the ceiling was painted like a galaxy.
This is 100% NOT MY PICTURE. I can’t find anyone to credit though, but I wanted to post it here to show how fantastic this venue is. I hope I can make it back there for more shows!
The way the venue was set up, the platinum VIPs were in the very first sliver of the floor, the behind that barricade were the P1 richies, and then behind the next and final barricade were us poor P2 peasants. However, by some stroke of fate, I was able to get second row behind the P2 barricade, off to the right (off to the right is my bread n’ butter concert spot, you guys; it’s the sweet spot for me). As it was with the G-Dragon show, the concert attendees were primarily Asian, and now that I have two kpop concerts under my belt, I feel that I can honestly say that these crowds were so much better than the crowds at most other concerts I go to. No pushing or shoving, just kindness all around.
I took this picture just to give Henry some perspective on where I was in the crowd.
Literally, I loved everyone around me! Especially the adorable girl to my left who took a phonecall before the show started and said something about being there alone, super shy and awkward, but then when the lights went down she was ALL LUNGS, my friends. That girl never stopped screaming and shouting the lyrics through the whole night and it was inspirational. I screamed right along with her because MOTHERFUCKING YOUNG BAE!!!!
Taeyang came out to the “White Night” intro and the frantic screaming around me nearly knocked me off balance. It was legit hysteria in the Aragon. I mean, have you seen Taeyang? He’s the total package. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
I lost track of the set list and couldn’t find one specifically from the Chicago show, but it seemed like it was pretty much the same for all US concerts, so here’s the one from San Jose:
- “White Night”
- “Ringa Linga”
- “Super Star”
- “Wake Me Up”
- “Only Look at Me”
- “Wedding Dress”
- “So Good”
- “I Need A Girl”
- “Empty Road”
- “Love You to Death”
- “Last Dance”
- “Break Down”
- “Good Boy”
- “Stay With Me”
- “Bang Bang Bang”
- “Fantastic Baby”
- “Eyes, Nose, Lips”
He fell toward the end of “Ringa Linga” but bounced back right away because he’s a true entertainer. If that had been me, I would have lost my shit, tried to fire someone, and then stormed off stage.
Basically the same thing I do to Henry on a daily basis but instead of storming off a stage, I’m storming up the steps and slamming my bedroom door.
^^My favorite song from White Night <3.
What I like about Taeyang is that it’s so obvious just by watching a few interviews or variety shows that he’s a nice guy. A genuinely nice guy. There is a reality show about the making of BIGBANG from 2005 (I think?), where YG Entertainment was auditioning boys to be in the band. Taeyang and G-Dragon were pretty much guaranteed to make it because they had been YG trainees for like, ever, and BIGBANG was essentially being built around them. Anyway, the one thing about Taeyang that has always stuck out to me is that whenever G-Dragon would get really tough on the other guys (because he’s such a perfectionist and came off as super bossy in that series), he would sometimes make them cry, and then it would be Taeyang who would come over to comfort them after GD had left the room.
I don’t think his caring nature is an act. He just comes across as very down to earth and I really wish I could have attended the send-off after the show because he apparently has been taking time to greet and talk to every single fan there, I can’t even believe it, how is he so wonderful!?
^^^OMFG TAEYANG, JUST STOP. NO I’M KIDDING, DON’T EVER STOP!!
If only G-Dragon had surprise-sauntered on stage for this though.
At one point, Taeyang sat down behind a piano. I started to clench, because I was pretty sure I knew what was coming, and it was freaking “Last Dance.” This is the ONLY BIGBANG song that I skip over when it comes on, beautiful as it is, because it makes me so sad and I honestly can’t handle it. However, there was no “skip” button at this show so I had to stand there and endure it, but luckily everyone else was crying too.
OMG OK so I know it’s not the same with the rest of BIGBANG there, but when Taeyang busted out “Bang Bang Bang” and “Fantastic Baby” during the encore, I thought we were all going to collectively begin squirting blood out of our mouths on account of the major throat-shredding this inspired! There is a really good chance I will never get to see BIGBANG live, so to be able to see Taeyang sing his parts and do the choreo that I have memorized from the millions of MV views, it was just so incredible and I WAS SO FUCKING PUMPED!!!!
I really thought the roof was going to crashing down around us, everyone was just going fucking nuts. How can anyone be immune to that?! I thought I was going to blow out blood vessels in my head!
The whole night had a very distinct, surreal veil draped over it. I was there, in the same room as Taeyang, an idol from across the world that I have watched in so many videos, wishing for the chance to be in the audience of one of this shows. It was hard to believe that in the span of a little more than a month, I got to see two members of BIGBANG on their solo tours. To say I felt blessed is a huge understatement. I felt incredibly grateful, so much that it’s hard to even express without getting all cheesy and borderline Jesusy. Life is still so very far from perfect (sooooooo very), but this whole scene has really changed my attitude in some ways (not all, though — sorry Henry) and definitely added a ton of fun to my days. And it has taken me to Newark, Toronto, and Chicago just this summer alone! It has been so worth it and beyond memorable.
I will never forget this night.