Everyone knows that the biggest draw to an event like KCON 2016 USA presented by Toyota is the chance to see beloved idols up-close and in-person. The convention itself offers fans a chance to do just that, with regularly scheduled artist engagements, multiple red carpet events and two nights of concerts so mind-blowingly amazing, you’re guaranteed to walk away with them forever embedded in your memory.
As KCON LA celebrated its 5th anniversary, fans flocked to the convention, expecting a series of concerts like no other and KCON didn’t disappoint. With a 2-day lineup that included Block B, DEAN, Amber, GFriend, I.O.I, Astro, Eric Nam, Monsta X, TTS, Twice, SHINee and BTS, you knew this was going to be a concert to remember. But then KCON took things a step farther by adding K-pop legends, Davichi and Turbo into the mix. To top it all off, actor, model and singer, Lee Min Ho, was added as a last-minute featured guest star and well… Could any Hallyu loving fan be any happier with such a lineup?
Being the K-Drama addicted K-Pop fangirl that I am, I was over-the-moon with this year’s lineup and I walked into Saturday night’s concert with expectations ridiculously high. And why shouldn’t I? This was my third year at KCON and my second KCON of 2016. I knew how epically amazing these concerts could be. I’d experienced the magic first-hand. And I knew KCON wasn’t about to drop the ball on this, their big 5-year anniversary.
I know it’s dangerous to walk into a concert with high expectations because let’s face it, things don’t always go the way you imagine they will. More often than not, the amazing moments you dreamed of having during the course of a concert are usually confined to the farthest reaches of your imagination, especially when you’re forced to watch a concert from 10,000 ft. (Which is the elevation of the Staples Center nosebleed seats, in case you were wondering.)
However, this year, I was not confined to the lower levels of the stratosphere for my concert-watching experience so just sitting down in a seat that was close enough I could actually see the faces of those on stage was AMAZING! With all of my expectations for Saturday night’s concert already met, I took my seat already floating on a fluffy cloud of fangirl happiness.
When JuNCurryAhn stepped onto the stage to open the evening’s festivities, I was in heaven. Again I got to watch him perform BTS’ “Fire” and yes, that in and of itself is enough to make me happy. But then ELUPHANT took the stage and Oh. My. Word. I can’t even begin to describe to you what it’s like to watch these two in person. Watching them perform “Fly Me To The Moon” was… Incredible seems like such a paltry word to use. It doesn’t do the moment justice. It was really that amazing.
Of course every KCON concert has to have their sponsor moments, where people are awarded trips to Korea and such and this year was no different. Well, at least until Quincy Jones stepped onto the stage. (Yes, I had a moment.) I can’t say I ever imagined the Quincy Jones making an appearance at KCON but he did! There to award a music scholarship to one lucky girl, Quincy Jones left us all in a state of awed amazement. After all, if Quincy Jones is there, you know you’re in for something good!
With the awards and announcements out of the way, it was time for the real fun to begin and oh gracious! If you’ve never heard tens of thousands of fans screaming and cheering in ecstatic excitement, you really haven’t lived. As the lights in the arena dimmed, the energy in the room kicked up 10-fold and when the giant screens which flanked the stage lit up with a picture of Lee Min Ho, that energy became indescribable. With thousands of fans cheering like mad, Lee Min Ho himself, stepped onto the stage and the entire place went wild. Welcoming us all to KCON 2016 LA, Lee Min Ho, kicked off the evening with a few short words and smile that melted the heart of everyone in the room.
With so much energy in the room, I.O.I hit the stage like fireworks, their energy on-stage clearly feeding off the energy of the crowd. It’s always fun to watch rookie groups perform in a place such as KCON because for many, it’s their first time performing in front of such a large audience. When you’re close enough to see the sheer joy on the idols’ faces as they perform, it just makes you all warm and squishy inside because you know they’re having as great of a time as you are. This is exactly what it was like, watching I.O.I.
DEAN was the next idol in the lineup and oh my word! I knew DEAN was popular. I have a lot of friends who really, really love him. I knew that with so many fans squealing over him, he had to be good. But nothing. In all the universe. Could have prepared me for DEAN’s performance on Saturday night. I swear. Not two seconds into his performance, I found myself on the floor, a swooning, fangirl mess. Seriously. Why didn’t anyone warn me about him!?! His voice… Oh gracious! Needless to say, I’m now very much a fan. (And yes, I did go home and download all his albums.)
GFriend was the next group to take the stage and I’m happy to report that they were just as amazing in LA as they were when I saw them in Toronto back in May. They were ridiculously adorable, in their little yellow outfits, and yet, their performance was so on point, all you saw were six incredibly talented young ladies, pouring their heart and soul into their performance. Once again I was thoroughly impressed by these young ladies and I had a blast singing and dancing along with them.
Amber and Key were the MCs of the evening and every time they made an appearance on-stage, the audience went nuts. It’s hard to decide which of the two people loved most, as no matter who was speaking, the cheers from the crowd were deafening. Showing up between sets to introduce the next, it was impossible not to feel excited every time they made an appearance because you knew that whatever was going to come next, it would end up being even more incredible that whatever it was that had come before. And it was. Every. Single. Time.
The next act to take the stage was a particular favorite of mine because I am hopelessly in love with Zico and his music. (There, I said it.) When he and U-Kwon showed up to perform “Boys and Girls” I died. As in, I had to hand my phone to my friend and tell her to take pictures for me because I was so far gone, I couldn’t even stand properly. And then U-Kwon disappeared and DEAN showed up and he and Zico performed “Pour Up” and that was it. I didn’t think I could reach a higher level of fangirl ecstasy. (Shows how much I know!)
When Amber took the stage, on her skateboard, no less, I totally lost it. I couldn’t help myself, really. Amber has always been a favorite of mine and I was already predisposed to love her because she’d been so ridiculously adorable during her time on the Red Carpet. I’d been primed by that experience and I already loved her so when she showed up, on the downward side of my Zico meltdown, there was nothing I could do but let all my fangirl feels run amok.
In all honesty, I was a totally mess from that point on. Listening to Amber sing her heart out as she performed “Borders” was one of the highlights of my life. And then KCON decided to throw in some more special stages and well, I just couldn’t keep myself together. Especially not when ASTRO showed up out of nowhere to perform with GFriend and Turbo! Oh gracious! My heart wasn’t ready for that! I’d been mentally preparing myself for ASTRO’s appearance on Sunday. I wasn’t at all ready for them to show up on Saturday and completely destroy what small semblance of sanity I had left!
Needless to say, I was a total mess during Turbo’s entire performance. Which was actually fine because they had everyone in the entire arena up on their feet, singing and dancing along. In all honesty, I didn’t know a single song they performed but it didn’t matter. The three members of Turbo are masters at working a crowd and they knew exactly what to do to make sure everyone in that building was having the time of their life. It was incredible!
And then Block B showed up, as a whole. And Zico was back. And again, I hit the floor faster than a scoop of ice cream left out in the blazing California sun. Opening with “Toy” I stood no chance against these boys. Zico’s singing voice is my greatest weakness and all I could do was sit there, a melted, mess of a once respectable human being. Somewhere between the opening and closing numbers, I found my way back onto my feet, and by the end I was dancing and singing along with the rest of the crowd. But yes, I did have a moment. And yes, the friend sitting next to me may be permanently traumatized.
Of course things only got worse as the evening’s closing act took the stage. That’s right. It was SHINee. And no. I’m still not okay. I love SHINee. I always have. I love them even more, now that I’ve met them. And yes, that moment changed my entire life. So seeing them again, mere months after that meeting… I wasn’t ready for it. I just wasn’t. The emotions were still too strong and I’m far too weak as a fangirl. My brain just couldn’t wrap itself around the fact I was watching SHINee perform. Again. Thankfully, you don’t really have to have a brain when you’re in the heights of a fangirl meltdown. All you really have to do is cheer for your biases and savor every single moment of their time on-stage. Which is exactly what I did.
SHINee’s performance, as well as the performances of every other artist that night, will forever be ingrained into my memory. The entire evening was just one epic moment after another and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to forget it. Being free to put aside the roles of responsibility I bore during the convention itself, I was able to let myself exist solely in this moment, to savor each experience as it happened, and that’s not really something you can put into words; no matter how hard you try.
But what about those of you who were able to be a part of KCON 2016 LA? What were your experiences like? Did you enjoy Saturday night’s concert as much as I did? I’d love to hear all about it so be sure to leave me a comment below!