History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

My First K-Pop Concert!

Hastily taken photo of the sign at the venue as we were preparing to enter

Last week was the culmination of my frantic watching everything by Pentagon I could get my eyeballs on in preparation for seeing them live. And it was definitely an experience.

Jeremy and I both work downtown–my office is very near the theater they were playing–so we met up after work for dinner and drinks, then popped into another bar we wanted to check out, and finally headed to the venue about 10 minutes before the doors were scheduled to open. As we reached the block for the venue, we looked at the line streaming down the sidewalk … and around the corner … and, as we followed it, around another corner. Yes, the line was fully on two sides of a city block, and then some.

Walking past the line, the attendees were primarily young women, probably teens to 20s or so. We had joked about being the oldest people there, but there were also some parents in line with the younger folks, and we were both relieved that we would not be the oldest people there. There were also people selling knock-off merchandise, to which I shook my head and said, “no, I want the real stuff.” (Rookie mistake, Vogel.)

The line didn’t start moving until probably 10 after 7, though the doors were supposed to open at 7. And it moved SLOWLY. We were finally reaching the venue doors at close to 7:45 (my phone says the photo here was taken at 7:42, and that was right before we went in). We headed up toward our seats and encountered a theater employee telling us that the merch line was to the left, so I jumped immediately into the line, sending Jeremy to the restroom. Once he’d been, he came and stood in line for me so I could run to the restroom, and then I returned to the line … which hadn’t moved much. I didn’t even know what the prices were going to look like yet, but I really wanted a cheer stick (which is a thing for K-Pop groups).┬áBut then a theater employee announced that the show had a hard start time of 8:10 p.m. It was about 7:55. I looked at the line and shook my head. My cheer stick would have to wait. We went to our seats.

As promised, the lights went down, and a version of the tour promo video showed on a darkened stage. Eventually, figures were moving into position, and then we were off! They played a couple of songs before doing introductions, then some more songs, another break, and so on. They did I think six songs before they took their first REAL break where they went offstage. And bear in mind, these kids (they’re all in their 20s) are dancing their hearts out this whole time. Mostly dressed in long-sleeved button down shirts (sometimes with jackets as well) and slacks. One of them had leather (maybe pleather?) pants. So the break was well deserved. And entertaining, as it was a simulated video game where the audience yelling made the pixel versions of the group members jump or fight threats.

Then half of the members on this tour (note: they started with 10 members. One guy got kicked out last year. Another guy has been ill and is on hiatus, so we had 8 members at the show.) came back out to do a cover song. Something called “Havana“? I didn’t know it. And then the other half of the members came out to cover “Uptown Funk,” which I’d been waiting for, since I watched it on YouTube from their Toronto show.

Then it was more of their songs, another break, another couple of half-group performances (the rap unit did “Lost Paradise,” which I love, and the ballad unit did “Till …,” which made me cry). They did a lot of songs I loved, and some that I wasn’t as familiar with, but they hadn’t done either of my absolute favorites, until the very end, after they said “we only have two more songs.”

There was probably an obligatory encore. But I was overly warm and tired, and they had played my favorites, so we bolted … holding out a dim hope that we could buy merch on the way out (which is the way I’ve done it at nearly every other concert I’ve ever bought merch at). Nope. No luck. The merch booth was long closed down and empty. No cheer stick for me.

So yeah, it was a blast. Jeremy said I looked so happy the entire time. I was singing along to the bits of English that I know and cheering for my favorites (or “biases,” because I can’t have just ONE in a group of 9 adorable Korean, Japanese, and Chinese boys). And it was super worth it.

Of course, on the way home, I started plotting whether or not I could get to Las Vegas this weekend to see my ULTIMATE bias boy group, Monsta X. But it’s an outdoor daytime show, and Jeremy rightly pointed out the weather forecast, and … well, there will be footage on YouTube later.


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