Monthly Archives: August 2015

Kcon LA 2015 – Part 2: The Music

Kcon Concert

In my last post, I talked a little about my experiences at Kcon as a convention.  But of course, the number one thing people go to Kcon for are the concerts and music guests.  This year there were ten music acts performing in the concerts, five for each day.  Depending on which concert tickets you purchased, you received scratcher tickets with chances to see the different groups in a panel or even do a “hi-touch” (high-five) with them.  The most expensive concert tickets also included a chance to win “red carpet” tickets, where you could go see all of the groups who were performing that day in their concert outfits.

I was unlucky and didn’t get any hi-touch or red carpet tickets, but I got two Shinhwa audience tickets, which was the group I was most excited to see.  I traded one of my tickets with a friend who got two Block.B hi-touches, so we went to both of those events together.  Neither of us are familiar with Block.B, but it was still cool to see them up close and hi-five all of them.  At the Shinhwa panel we were in the back and couldn’t see much, but we enjoyed their answers to the questions.  They showed their age when they mentioned liking celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Streisand.  Shinhwa is apparently the longest-standing idol group, with 17 years and no member changes.  That is truly incredible!  And you can really tell they are true idols, with perfect idol responses to every question.  I have to say, Korea really gets it right when it comes to fan engagements, and I feel this has played a large part in Kpop’s international success.  Fans are one of the most important things to idols, and Kpop artists really make themselves available to fans all over the world, whether through live shows and concerts, fan engagements, or even Internet shows and social media.

For the concerts my friends and I had P2 Floor tickets, standing by the back side of the stage, which was kind of in the shape of a plus sign.  We got a good view of whoever came to our side, but otherwise it was a little hard to see.  Honestly at my age, and because dancing is my thing, I’d rather have seats that are a little farther back but at eye level with the stage so I can see everything.  We had a good time though.  We stood near the back so we had the freedom to move around if we wanted.  One lucky thing that happened to us during the Sunday concert was that when AOA entered, they passed through the floor section on the back side… meaning right where we were standing!   One of my friends is a huge AOA fan so he was very excited about that.

Kcon Concert2

For me, the highlights of the concert were getting to see Super Junior and Shinhwa.  I loved that Super Junior sang Donghae & Eunhyuk’s “Oppa Oppa”.  The members of Super Junior are so funny and really put on a great show!  Shinhwa of course was also super professional and really owned that stage.  They even made sure go to each side of the stage and do their group intro so everyone could see them.  They opened with “T.O.P”, and wow, that really brought me back.  I wasn’t a Kpop fan back then, but I remember when that song was popular.  When Shinhwa performed “This Love”, which is the song I was most looking forward to, they were facing the back of the stage, so I was really excited about that.  I loved seeing all the Shinhwa fans at the concert.  It was funny to see the slightly older ladies fangirling over them, but it was also refreshing to see that they had plenty of young fans as well.  I brought both of my King Blade light sticks, set to orange for Shinhwa, and when the Shinwha performance started and I was waving my light sticks, an excited fan in an orange tshirt ran up to me and asked to borrow one of my light sticks.  She was so happy, jumping and screaming at Shinhwa.  Haha ♥

Kcon really is an experience like no other, especially for an American fan of Asian music.  I had a great time both years that I attended.  You can be sure I’ll be back next year!  I’ve been into Asian pop music for 15+ years, and an event like this is something I never could have even dreamed of back in the day!  Kpop fans these days are so lucky!  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how Kcon continues to grow in the future.

Kcon LA 2015 – Part 1: The Convention

Kcon LA 2015

This past weekend I went to Kcon LA, which was held at the LA Convention Center with concerts in the Staples Center.  It was my second Kcon, and I was curious to see how the atmosphere of the event would change after being moved to a convention center.  Last year felt more like a street fair, but this year certainly felt more like a convention.  It felt weird for me because I’d just been there one month before for Anime Expo.  It was great because I was already familiar with the area and knew exactly where I was going.  The best part was the convenience of being right next to the hotel, so you could go back any time to rest, deposit your swag and purchases, or change into and out of costume.  There were also plenty of restaurants in the area.  I know many of the attendees were glad not to have to be outdoors in the sun like last year.  Great move, Kcon!

As for the convention itself, I have to say Kcon is a very unique experience.  Even though the focus is obviously Kpop and the concerts, there were a lot of things going on throughout the weekend.  This year the event was three days with two concerts.  Since there were no concerts the first day, it was a good day to roam the hall and do your shopping. The hall contained merchandise vendors, sponsor booths, fan club booths, a stage for contests and presentations, and some hangout areas where you could relax or play games (like giant Jenga).  It felt strange to see companies like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola giving away free samples, but I guess they were some of the big sponsors for the event.  McDonald’s had a DDR machine set up with Kpop song on it.  Toyota was very creative and had a car set up with a TV in the trunk to play dance games and music playing inside the car with a camera so you could shoot lip-synch videos.  People were lined up to play!  Nongshim was giving away free ramen samples (I also won a whole case of spicy ramen in their raffle).  The other very random thing I saw on Friday was a marching band that made their way around the exhibit hall.  I don’t know what they were promoting, but I can say I’ve never seen anything like that at an anime convention.

Like last year, there were a few booths selling Kpop CDs, DVDs, and posters, a few other media related booths, and a bunch of random Korean company booths that no one seemed to care about (I felt bad for them but they were pretty random). This year there were also what I call “anime con booths” — the kind of stuff you usually see at anime conventions, like anime and game figures, plushes, anime tshirts, and accessories.  Even though this section seemed out of place, the whole area was pretty busy and they looked like they were doing good business.  There are, after all, a lot of people who got into Asian music through anime.  I would have like to see more Kpop related merchandise, like tshirts or trinkets, or even just more variety in CDs, DVDs, and posters (it was mostly limited to the most popular groups, new releases, and whichever groups were present at Kcon).  I know Korean fashion and beauty products are also popular, so it would be great to see more of those as well.  The big thing that was missing this year were the food vendors.  With the event being indoors, I’m guessing they didn’t have an area where they could put food booths.  There were a few food trucks outside, but I missed having rows and rows of Korean food stands to choose from.  I was looking forward to some spicy rice cakes and BBQ skewers.  At least there were plenty of food options available in the area, but it just wasn’t the same.  I’m curious to see how things will be next year.

On the stage inside the main hall there were dance performances, a dance contest (which was pretty awesome), a costume contest, a fashion show, and some guest appearances, among other things.  When I walked by the stage on Sunday afternoon I saw a large crowd and thought, I wonder what’s going on?  Then I looked at the stage… IS THAT THE TRY GUYS?? DANCING??  It sure was!  Outside the main hall there were panel rooms with fan-run programming where you could learn and chat about a variety of topics related to Kpop and Korea.  One thing I would love to see at Kcon is a viewing room where you could watch music videos, much like anime viewing rooms at anime conventions.  It would be especially cool for newer fans to learn about different groups, or even familiarize themselves with the groups who would be performing in the concerts.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about the convention’s main attractions: the concerts and the music guests.