The best part of attending an event like KCON 2017 NY is knowing that when one concert ends, another is waiting, just on the other side of tomorrow. Being exceptionally excited for Saturday night’s concert, I walked into the Prudential Center with high hopes. Hopes that, I’m happy to say, were exceeded in ways I could never have imagined.
Breaking with their usual KCON routine, Saturday night’s concert opened with a special performance by TWICE which, I think, was supposed to be an homage to the JYP Entertainment girl groups who have come before. Performing the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody” and miss A’s “Bad Girl, Good Girl,” the performance was entertaining enough but the larger-than-life images of JYP himself, emblazoned on the stage’s giant screens was a bit much. It was a bit odd, starting off the evening’s show on such an unusual foot but I suppose at the same time, throwing in the unexpected is kind of what KCON does, on that note, they succeeded.
With the not-so-subtle JYP tribute over, UP10TION took the stage and immediately, I was transported back to the happy world of fangirl bliss. There’s something about seeing a performance live that can’t compare to anything you see in videos and seeing these guys perform “나한테만 집중해 (ATTENTION)” in person was just… It’s hard to pick a single word to describe it… Perfect? Magical? Better than anything you could possibly imagine? How about all of the above? In all honesty, their entire set was nothing short of high-energy perfect and I was utterly happy that I’d finally got to see this incredible group of rookies perform in person. And how could I not be? With a set that included “White Night,” “So Dangerous” and their yet-to-be-released new single, “Runner,” I was one perfectly delighted (and probably overly excited) zombie!
As excited as I’d been during UP10TION’s performance, my level of excitement was kicked up to 11 (million) when SM Entertainment’s new rookie sensation, NCT 127 took the stage. The fact the this next set opened with the group’s leader, Taeyong, performing a solo dance kinda had me reeling. There are very few things in this world I love more than watching Taeyong dance so to see him take the stage by storm with his dance was just too perfect for words. Of course he didn’t have the stage to himself for long. The rest of the group soon joined him and that was pretty much it for me. I was dead.
Watching NCT 127 perform all my favorite songs, including “無限的我 (무한적아, Limitless),” “Good Thing,” “0 Mile” and “소방차 (Fire Truck),” was something I never thought I’d be able to witness in real life. (SM artists are so hard to see outside of South Korea!) Needless to say, I spent pretty much their entire performance wiping tears out of my eyes; I was just so darn happy! The only downside to this otherwise perfect set was being forced to sit through another incredibly painful ‘Fortune Wheel’ segment. Yes, that darn wheel made more than one appearance on Saturday (TWICE was the other poor victim of that accursed wheel) and it every bit as cheesy and awful as it had been the night before.
Lucky for us all, our time with the ‘Fortune Wheel’ was limited and soon enough the guys were back to doing what they do best. Killing us with their incredible choreography and fantastic music. Wrapping up their set with “Cherry Bomb” I watched them fade into the darkness with a complete sense of satisfaction washing over me. I’d come to New York. I’d seen NCT 127 perform with my very own eyes. I could die happy because my life was now complete.
Being in such a complete state of bliss meant I went into the next bit of the evening’s entertainment on a ridiculous high. That’s probably why when UP10TION returned to the stage to pay their own sort of tribute to NYC’s Broadway magic, I just giggled my way through it. I don’t know why I did, really. I just did. I think maybe a lot of it has to do with the fact that the guys looked like they’d just stepped out of a production of The Music Man or something. Which, I get it, that was the point. But watching them all sing and dance to ABBA’s “Honey Honey” while looking like the lost members of some barber shop brigade was just too much for me. I know they were performing the number from Mama Mia! and I know that it was supposed to be all sorts of cheesy and adorable (which it was) but seriously, it was such a switch from everything else we’d experienced over the course of the weekend that I just couldn’t help but laugh. I promise, it wasn’t a mean laugh, by any stretch of the imagination. It was simply an, “Oh my gosh this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!” laugh followed closely by a, “I wonder how many people here actually know what this song is and which musical it’s from?” chuckle.
With the Broadway tribute over, TWICE returned to the stage with what was, undoubtedly, one of the most anticipated acts of the evening. The crowd went absolutely nuts when these 9 young ladies took the stage and the cheering didn’t stop until the girls disappeared backstage. Performing a string of hits, including “Signal,” “TT,” “Knock Knock” and “Cheer Up,” it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of the crowd. Singing and dancing along, I had just as much fun watching these girls perform as I’d had when I saw them at KCON LA last year.
As TWICE wrapped up their set, my heart did a bit of a flip-flop flutter as I realized the evening’s closing act was upon us. Unable to keep my squealing internalized, I kinda flipped out when CNBLUE took the stage. Having the group’s leader, Jung Yong Hwa (정용화), to thank for my life-long addiction to not only K-dramas but K-pop as well, I had a bit of a moment when he stepped into the spotlight and flashed us all one of his brilliant, heart-stopping smiles. Opening with “Between Us (헷갈리게),” CNBLUE proceeded to take us through years and years of perfectly wonderful music with tracks like, “Cinderella (신데렐라),” “Can’t Stop,” “You’re so Fine (이렇게 예뻤나)” and “Love Light (사랑 빛).” (Oh my gosh, when Yonghwa sat down at the piano and started playing “Can’t Stop”… Ugh! I. Died.)
Wrapping up the evening’s concert with my original K-pop bias group was the perfect way to wrap up the entire KCON 2017 NY experience. As Yonghwa took guitar in hand for the group’s last number, I was instantly reminded why I fell in love with this beautiful and amazing world of Hallyu in the first place. In a state of sheer bliss, I cheered my little heart out for Jungshin, Minhyuk, Jonghyun and Yonghwa, once again in tears as my over-active emotions got the better of me. But really, why shouldn’t they? It was the perfect ending to an incredible weekend and when the stage lights dimmed for the last time, I was able to walk away from the entire experience with memories that will last a lifetime. And that, my friends, is what KCON is all about.