As I try for impartiality in all my writing, I think I should state upfront (for those of you who don’t already know) that I have a soft spot for BIGBANG. Actually that may be putting it mildly. They were my introduction to K-pop and other forms of Korean music in 2006 and like any first love, my memories of them hold a special place in my heart. That being said, I’m not quite as crazy about them as I was say 3-6 years ago, my love has mellowed but not disappeared. So yeah, I won’t be fangirling like when I saw them in New Jersey in 2012, but I was still predisposed to like the show. I just wanted to be upfront about my partiality.
However, it wouldn’t have mattered. BIGBANG put on such a show that even if you weren’t familiar with them or their music, even if pop music or K-pop isn’t your thing, you would have loved it. They just bring so much personality to the stage, that it’s a delight to watch them. Just one look at the screaming fans in the audience confirmed BIGBANG’s dominance in K-pop. But what was the Toronto show really like? Keep reading for my (mostly impartial) review.
Before the show
The show was at the sold-out Air Canada Centre (ACC) with a crowd of approximately 14,000, many of whom waited in line for hours to get that perfect spot on the floor. Even those who had seated tickets lined up early to get in as soon as possible to buy merchandise. When I walked past what appeared to be the sole merchandise table in the concourse outside the ACC at 5:30 pm to pick up my media ticket, most of the stuff was already sold out so it wasn’t surprising that the merchandise tables inside had killer lines. I took one look and decided I didn’t really need stickers or a Taeyang pen (I did end up buying the stickers after the show as they had some left – but the only things left then were stickers and headbands… everything else sold out even at those crazy prices!). And yeah, I make it a habit to buy something at every concert I go to, whether as media or not, to support the musicians.
Making my way to my seat, the first thing I noticed was the cool stage. I was expecting a H-stage as those are more common but it was an square-shaped stage with the regular main stage, a front stage and two movable bridges that connected them. The two bridges did come together a couple of times early in the concert to form an H-stage but mostly, they were apart. This was both great and crappy all at the same time. It was amazing because the one side of the bridge was very close to where I was sitting (maybe 20 feet/6 meters away at most) so when different members of BIGBANG were on that bridge, my views were great.
However, the two bridges were raised and blocked most of the main stage and front stage so I, and everyone in the platinum (the lower part of the seated area) area of my section and probably the section next to mine, missed seeing a significant part of the show unless we looked at the giant screens. If they weren’t raised, it wouldn’t have been an issue and ultimately, I liked the closeness more than I disliked having to look at the screens but it is worth mentioning.
What a show!
The concert lasted a little more than two hours with 18 songs, plus a 3 song encore, and while I was a little sad not to hear “Lies (거짓말)”, it was a good set list and included several crowd favs (and many of mine as well). Of course, songs like “Fantastic Baby”, “Eyes, Nose, Lips (눈, 코, 입)” and “We Like to Party” got the crowd up on their feet and the crowd’s love was no surprise but there were some unexpected moments like seeing Daesung (대성) on drums for “Sober (맨정신)”. And don’t laugh, but it was also kinda unexpected not to see Taeyang (태양) shirtless, not even once, during the concert. *sigh*
Of course, there were many chances for the fans to swoon, either from the music or the conversations BIGBANG had with them throughout the concert. I have to say, they all sounded much more comfortable chatting in English than they did in 2012. Okay, Taeyang’s English has been good for years but they all seemed very comfortable chatting with us. Plus, there were some great moments like Daesung’s little skit/dance where he was going to show the audience his big… eyes.
And while there were no naked chests this time (by anyone *sigh*), there was still lots of love from BIGBANG to the audience including some clothing thrown to the audience as amazing souvenirs. On my side, Taeyang threw his hat (it landed right beside me to a very happy fan) and GD threw his jacket (which unfortunately led to a slightly distracting tug-of-war in front of me). Add that to all the love BIGBANG showed Toronto during the chats… yeah, it was fun for everyone.
There were so many that it’s hard to narrow it down… it was three years since I last saw them live so simply being there was a favourite moment but being there for the first time as press… that was sweet. Other moments that have stayed with me:
- GD dancing to Fantastic baby on the stage bridge right in front of me. I love that song and seeing GD dancing to it so close, yeah, that was cool.
- Taeyang spending a lot of time so close (the camera on my phone loved him!) on that bridge. My inner fangirl swore he made eye contact. He’s long been my favourite member of BB so yeah, my inner fangirl was happy, even if she didn’t see him shirtless.
- Seungri just being Seungri. Every time I’ve seen him interact with the crowd, he’s been so cute and this time was no different.
- Taeyang singing “Eyes, Nose, Lips” – I love this song, it’s one of my favourite of all Taeyang’s songs so being able to see it performed live was fun.
- Watching GD sit on the bridge and make the fans on the floor super happy.
- The fun interactions and conversations BIGBANG had with the audience. They spoke – each member – with the crowd on three separate occasions and each time was cute. So much laughter!
- Watching Taeyang bound all over the stage, he has so much energy and grace.
- Seeing the balance of old and new songs, as well as BIGBANG as a group and solo performances.
- TOP & GD together being sprayed with mountains of confetti from a canon (I got some cool pics with my phone!).
After the show – well, the next day – I read a couple of reviews of the New Jersey and Los Angeles shows and I have to say, the review by Rembert Browne for Grantland was by far my favourite. It made me feel so much better about my unabashed love for them seeing how quickly they converted a music writer with limited knowledge of them. BIGBANG, you rock! And live… live they are so much better.
Honestly, it was such an amazing night, the only thing I missed was hearing “Lies” – my favourite BIGBANG song. Were you at the Toronto concert? What did you think of it?
Editor’s note: All of the images in this article are courtesy of BIGBANG/LiveNation. But it you want to see some of the fun photos I took on my phone, head on over to our Facebook page. ^^