Ok-pop’s fourth era carries the torch
It’s sensory overload inside Los Angeles’s Crypto.com Area. Hundreds of followers clutch a mixture of lightsticks starting from regal scepters to heart-shaped megaphones, roaring in pleasure. That is the scene at KCON LA 2022, the place over the course of two days 16 acts take the stage for seven hours of performances. Such fan euphoria is the inevitable results of bringing a lot Ok-pop expertise collectively underneath a single roof.
KCON made its debut in 2012, and has since been making Ok-pop performances accessible to worldwide followers within the US and overseas, even when it shifted on-line in 2020 and 2021. Again in full swing this 12 months, the KCON LA slate is filled with contemporary faces. For a number of the teams, it is a watershed second: a primary time abroad, a maiden efficiency on a stage this dimension. Others have simply accomplished a world tour or are about to embark on one.
ATEEZ, who fall into the latter class, kick all of it off on Saturday with ‘Poppia’, a KCON ‘signature’ track. Their set contains a formidable seven songs, the group commanding the 360-degree stage. Jongho’s belted excessive notes have been a ‘mics on’ second, whereas dancer San’s strikes have been so intense he almost lost his headset microphone.
Evening two, by comparability, has a slower begin – some fatigue from the weekend-long festivities, jam-packed conference programming included, will be the trigger. However earlier than the power can fall too far, NMIXX inject a much-needed shot of adrenaline by overlaying SEVENTEEN’s ‘Aju Good’, suspenders and all. “Are you feeling good?” shouts Lily, and it was merely not possible to say no. That is simply one of many evening’s homages to levels of KCON previous – later, NMIXX’s Sullyoon and Kyujin return with LOONA’s Heejin and Hyunjin, channeling MAMAMOO’s sophistication and energy of their joint cowl of the quartet’s freewheeling anthem ‘Decalcomanie’.
Other than a handful of those rookie levels, there’s a shocking lack of nostalgia for KCON’s 10-year anniversary. No legacy acts are current, and setlists gravitate in direction of newer releases, even when which means beloved classics are reduce for time. (The cheers when NCT Dream’s Jisung sings a single line from ‘Chewing Gum’ say all of it.)
STAYC by no means as soon as utter their signature catchphrase, although their dance break to introduce ‘Stunning Monster’ and stage costumes match for royalty make up for it. Likewise specializing in their 2022 – and now TikTok-viral – hits, ENHYPEN carry out ‘Future Good (Cross the Mic)’ and ‘Polaroid Love’, although probably the most welcome inclusion of all is ‘Fever,’ among the finest Ok-pop songs of 2021.
Bucking the development, as they have an inclination to do, are ITZY. After they ‘pull’ their ‘SNEAKERS’ on, they take us all the best way again to debut days with their carefree manifesto ‘DALLA DALLA’ and the empowered shoulder shimmies of ‘WANNABE.’ Nonetheless, with no act on the KCON line-up predating 2016, the scent of a generational shift stays within the air.
Ok-pop idols undergo rigorous coaching to turn into all-around performers, specialising in vocals, dance, or rap (although they’re usually well-versed in multiple) and chasing their goals of stardom. Take The Boyz, who stepped off a flight from Seoul late within the afternoon on Sunday and hours later, flip and stunt their manner by means of smooth heist thriller ‘The Stealer’.
KCON LA seeks to provide followers a small style of the idol grind with ‘dream levels.’ After exhaustive rounds of competitors, just a few fortunate (and well-practised) followers take the sector’s stage with their idols, performing ‘WA DA DA’ with Kep1er on Saturday and ‘PTT (Paint the City)’ with LOONA on Sunday in a show of the conference’s dream-making energy.
All through the weekend, auditions are held for upcoming competitors present Boys Planet; throughout a ground look, CRAVITY member and Los Angeles native Allen emphasises that simply 4 years in the past, he too was an adoring fan within the KCON viewers. Even because it celebrates its historical past, KCON appears to be firmly orienting itself towards the way forward for Ok-pop.
Nobody higher exemplifies this than the closers chosen for every evening. First come the unabashedly loud, Fourth-Gen mouthpiece Stray Youngsters. On the high of Saturday’s invoice, the members floor a number of instances over the course of the evening. Bang Chan throws roses into the viewers in his stint as MC, and 3RACHA (the group’s in-house manufacturing trio Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han) emerge mid-show for a particular stage of unreleased monitor ‘Yeah’. And when Stray Youngsters assemble on stage as a full group for a medley of their most head-banging title tracks (together with the standout ‘God’s Menu’), one factor shortly turns into clear: the “thunderous ones” have arrived.
Capping off your complete weekend is NCT Dream with breathless enthusiasm and an all-too-brief set: starting with ‘Beatbox’ and ‘Scorching Sauce’, then transitioning into ‘Good day Future’ and the experimental ‘Glitch Mode’. The track ‘Good day Future’ particularly appears like probably the most becoming strategy to finish the tenth version of KCON and have a good time a decade of gatherings internationally, on-line and in-person, within the title of Ok-pop: “Wherever it could be, we’re coming collectively.”