This was taken before the show started, which is why there are so many empty seats.
When Twice and CNBlue were announced as two of the groups performing at this year’s KCON, Henry knew there was no way out of it. My love for Twice knows no bounds and Yong Hwa, the lead singer of CNBlue, is one of my favorite Running Man guest stars. Those two groups alone were worth it to me.
When we bought our tickets, it was just me and Henry going but then at the last minute, Chooch decided he wanted to go as well. Tickets for the concert were pretty steep, and not only that but if we bought a third ticket, someone would have to sit alone. Henry the Martyr gave up his ticket so that Chooch could experience the awe and majesty that is Kpop live.
Henry did admit though that he was a bit sad about it because he had some curiosity of what it was going to be like. It’s not everyday you get to see Kpop groups perform live in the States. It’s not like skipping a Dave Matthews Band concert because you know you can just see them again next year. With Kpop, YOU NEVER KNOW!
Concert entry line-up started around 6 so Henry reminded us not to talk to strangers and then peaced out back to the hotel. It took over an hour for us to get inside the Prudential Center, even with all the specific lines that were designated for each ticket tier. I wasn’t too concerned though because we had seats so it’s not like we needed to be OMG First. (I still had a little bit of that urgency bubbling up inside me though, ugh.)
Security was especially dickish at this place, screaming at everyone in line and mocking the people who were told to throw out all the food samples they were given at the convention. We’re talking full-sized packages of Korean snacks, you guys. Bowls of instant ramen, pitched. People were arguing that it was stuff given to them from convention booths but security gave no fucks and pointed out the garbage cans. I was thankful that Henry took all of our stuff back to the hotel with him, because we had A LOT of food in our bags.
Chooch was really angry about this and I told him blogging about it might be a good exercise of stress relief but then he was like “Wow, suddenly I’m not mad anymore, bye.”
As soon as we made it through security, Chooch wanted a $7 soft pretzel.
“This is why they don’t want you bringing food in here,” I said sadly, withdrawing from Chooch’s college fund.
The tickets I bought were the second cheapest being offered. They went on sale after I sold my soul for G-Dragon tickets, so I’m lucky I was able to buy tickets AT ALL. We were in the nosebleed section for sure, but there was still somehow one level higher than us. It was so steep and scary.
“Well, I guess we won’t be standing during this one,” I laughed, gripping onto the backs of the seats as we slowly shuffled down the row to our designated spots, but Chooch was like THANK GOD because he hates standing at shows.
There was a preshow, hosted by Kevin Woo. We got to watch people win flights to Korea, ugh. The one girl was all, “I want to go to M Countdown and hopefully see BTS….again!” and Chooch and I were puking in our hands. The Olympic committee guys were there again and everyone applauded them loudly — I loved all the Olympic spirit that was happening at KCON! I usually don’t like the winter Olympics (Summer all the way) but obviously I’m super stoked for these ones.
The concert started promptly at 7:30, with KNK! I TOUCHED THEM! I kept reminding Chooch, who was like, “I KNOW, I GET IT!”
The screaming could have been unbearable, but I was SO INTO the whole atmosphere of this thing, that it was only making me incredibly giddy! I couldn’t believe that I was getting to see all of these amazingly beautiful kpop groups perform live, outside of YouTube!
KNK was so great, as expected. They only performed three songs, because the whole purpose of this concert was that it was supposed to be like the Korean weekly music show, M Countdown, where current popular artists come on and perform their chart-toppers. So it’s more like a sampling rather than a full set, and we were totally OK with that. The set-up was perfect for someone like Chooch, with a short and stubby attention span.
Chooch has no opinion of KNK and said that he can’t keep KNK, Up10tion, and SF9 apart.
Next, Yuju from Gfriend and Dongwoon from Highlight came out and performed Beauty & the Beast, in a special nod to Broadway. I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry during this, and we all know by now that I might be a terrible person, but a liar I’m not. (I mean, look how often my honesty gets me in trouble.)
What I really loved about this part of the concert is that it highlighted (lol) the sickeningly beautiful voices of kpop idols that often get overshadowed by the choreography-heavy stage performances. When it’s all stripped down like this, their voices are able to shine and it’s a great reminder that not only are kpop stars beautiful and sick dancers, but they can fucking sang, y’all.
Chooch: “One of the only Beauty & the Beast songs I know, and it was so sweet.”
The next group to perform was SF9 and I barely knew anything about them, but based on the reaction of the crowd, these boys are way more popular than I realized. The girl in front of me threw her head back in such robust ecstasy that I thought she was going to break my shin bone thing.
They were so freaking good!!
So the Fortune Wheel was bizarre. SF9 performed like two songs and then stopped to give their obligatory fan service, which just so happened to be “spinning” the Fortune Wheel. Chooch and I were like “dafuq is happening right now” because these are not things that happen at the shows we’re accustomed to! But it turned out to be pretty entertaining and we got to see the personalities of the group members really shine outside of their tightly choreographed performances. It was slightly awkward because they were speaking 99% in Korean and we had to try and read the subtitles on the screens, which were in LIGHT BLUE FONT.
Anyway, they chose some basic brunette named Paige in the front of the P1 stage area and then two of them proposed to her and it was so dumb but also slightly adorable and she was like kind of crying and swooning through the whole thing, but then couldn’t pick which proposal was better so she picked all of them, what a cop-out. This song-and-dance went on FOREVER when all we really wanted was ACTUAL SONG-AND-DANCE. GIVE US THE SONG-AND-DANCE. Fuck Paige in P1!
Chooch: “God, they took so long with that, it was basically all that and no concert!”
Here is the best SF9 song, in my opinion. Also, SF stands for Sensational Feeling, lol.
Next up, finally, was Gfriend! I only know of them through Sarahkpop, one of my go-to kpop dance workout channels on YouTube. One of the first kpop routine of hers that I did was to a GFriend song, almost two years ago. Admittedly though, the only song I was really anticipating was “Fingertip,” which is their current hit.
I felt that out of all the groups, they were the most awkward when doing the standard introductions. Yerin was unable to be there due to “scheduling conflicts” which is confusing to me because if your actual job is being in a kpop idol group, shouldn’t your schedule be the same as the schedules of the other members? But what do I know!
Of course, when they performed “Fingertip,” everyone went nuts. Chooch said they were his favorite of the whole night and gee, I can’t imagine why.
I thought they were fun, but they were missing the charisma that seems more prevalent in girl groups like Twice, Red Velvet, SNSD, etc. Maybe I need to watch more of their variety show appearances, though, before I start judging.
Chooch: “They were very shy and like, nervous I guess?”
OK, the next act was someone I was really anticipating: Zion.T! He’s collaborated with G-Dragon in the past, and I just really love his R&B style. There aren’t many solo Korean artists that stand out to me, but he is for sure someone who doesn’t need the support of a idol group. He can command a stage all on his own, without choreography even! Oh man, I thought he was so smooth and totally enjoyable. Henry doesn’t like him because he’s been on Infinite Challenge in the past and Henry thinks he looks like a jerk. #jealous
Anyway, he came out behind a piano and did a few lines from “Complex” and I thought I was going to faint. If G-Dragon had walked out for his part, I probably would be writing this from some Newark mental hospital right now.
Chooch: “He was good, I don’t know.”
The headliners of night one was Highlight, and I was very curious about this one. So a quick background: they were originally known as BEAST, and they were very popular. One of the guys in Beast, Hyunseung, was actually in the running to be a member of BIGBANG back before they debuted in 2006, but he was eliminated in the end in favor of Seungri (I literally can’t imagine BIGBANG without Seungri and it gives me a stomachache every time I think about how close he was to not being in the group). Hyunseung went on to join another agency, and then became one of the original members of Beast. Anyway, he eventually left to pursue a solo career a few years back, and the rest of Beast recently re-debuted as Highlight. There was a lot of criticism when this happen – it seemed like fans really hated the name and wanted them to just remain as Beast. I don’t know, none of this affected me at all.
Chooch: “Highlight was good, my ear drums exploded, but that’s OK.”
They had such great stage presence and energy! The girls around us were fucking screaming their throats raw. I thought the girls behind me were 13, but I turned around at one point and saw that they were definitely in their mid-to-late 20s and it just made it even better. Kpop inspires mass hysteria, you guys! Chooch’s eyes kept bugging out because of the surround sound shrieks he had to endure all night.
Highlight also did the Fortune Wheel, but theirs was short n’ sweet – they just had to take a selfie.
At the end of the night, all of the artists were introduced again for the goodbye stage and I legit shed some tears. The whole night, I just kept thinking, “I can’t believe I’m here! I can’t believe I’m seeing this!” Kpop has really turned my life around, as ridiculous as that sounds, and I was just so full of life in tha moment….
….but also really fucking tired. Chooch and I screamed and applauded until the very last group left the stage, but we were beat, man. Having been outside in the sun-sizzle from 8:30am-7:00pm really took a toll on us and Chooch was close to full-fledged slumber during Zion.T, I think.
Our Lyft driver Papa H was waiting for us outside and after failing to find an easily accessible place to eat, we ended up eating at the questionable restaurant in our hotel, where I had a veggie wrap stuffed with an entire bag of veggies from the freezer section (crinkle cut carrits, squash, and zucchini — not wrap-appropriate vegetables!). Chooch and I had to fight to keep from nodding off while Henry was wide awake having slept all night while we were in the concert, ugh.
Day 1 was just too exciting! I couldn’t wait to wake up and do it all over again. MORE LATER!