Saturday, August 16, 2014

Zaku's KCON Experience, Part 1

Now, I know this is a week late but people have expressed interest in how KCON went for me. It'll make up for the non-existent LA KPOP Festival write up I was supposed to do back in April... (If anyone wants to see that, I still have the unfinished draft in the Blogger... LOL)

Anyway, here it is.

Pic for pizzazz.

If you didn't know, KCON this year was a two-day affair spread out over the weekend of August 9 through 10. I've gone ahead and labeled all the sub-headings so you can skip around if I ramble about stuff you don't really care about.
DAY 1 (AUGUST 9)


PRE-CONCERT SHENANIGANS

Traffic getting there wasn't too bad on Saturday, but parking was the biggest pain in the ass I've ever experienced in my life. We had been warned (sort of) in our special guest information e-mails that this was going to be the case and we should find public transportation to be on the safe side. Me never having used the LA Metro scoffed and figured parking wouldn't be too bad. I left my house in Orange County at around 10:30 AM, arriving in downtown LA at about 11 AM-ish.

What a foolish mistake. The traffic signs posted directed us to follow a certain direction and travel down in an orderly line, but the SIGNS WERE LIES...!! It took ages to wrap around the entire block to get to some random lot behind the stadium, and by the time we got there, the incredibly helpful parking attendants with 100% information on what the hell to tell people sent us back to the starting sign that told us to wrap around the block. Amazing. I ended up spending $20 to park on a parking structure fairly nearby (about a 10 minute walk), but I wasn't too perturbed since KCON was reimbursing my parking fees. Very nice of them to do so, but the whole ordeal took me an entire hour to suffer through.

Anyway, as we were wrapping around the block we noticed a massive horde of KPop fans suffering in the LA summer sun. Apparently (like all previous years) registration was a massive clusterfuck and people were inching in one at a time. By the time I got to the front of the line (heheheh), it was about 11:55AM. Luckily for me, I got to bypass the whole thing as a special guest to pick up my panelist badge and concert tickets. They ran out of KCON lanyards though, so I had to improvise with the paperclip I keep on my key ring for those exact situations.

In order to get into KCON as a whole, we needed to grab wristbands, which meant waiting in more lines. Me being me, I walked up to a VIP registration entrance and told them I needed wristbands. They complied and handed me some cards to redeem for a goodie bag and 2 scratchers. This year, the artist interaction events were based entirely on a lotto system which I'm sure was to prevent the rampant scalping of the tickets like last years, but entirely backfired and resulted in several desperate fangirls camping the exit lines hoping to buy some.

The level of interaction you could POSSIBLY get were based on the money you spent on tickets. P1 ticket holders (floor, closest to the stage) got artist signing scratchers, which allowed you to push a scrap of paper in front of your fave so they could assembly line scribble their signature on it as you writhed in glee. P2 ticket holders (floor, area around the P1 folks) got to be part of the "hi-touch" line, meaning you got to give your faves a brief hand shake before their manager handed them a baby wipe and hustled you away (jk). P3 and below got "audience" tickets, which just meant you stood there watching all the rich kids do all the cool stuff with your faves while you silently fumed at your stingy parents or broke ass self, straining to make eye contact with them amidst a sea of people. Everyone also had a chance to be part of the red carpet event, but I think they intentionally made those very scarce. Didn't seem like very many people got those tickets.

Personally, I got tickets for audience level participation for IU and Jung Joon Young's events, but I got there too late for IU's event and I didn't really know about Jung Joon Young. Damn that LA parking struggle.

KCON itself was divided into 2 main areas, a "convention floor" surrounding the arena and a "marketplace" in the parking lot next to it. The convention floor was where all the panels and workshops were held, so I figured I would start there. I was also told we were going to be getting goodie bags, so that sealed the deal on that decision. To get into the convention area, people had to wait in yet another line so the security staff could search bags for bombs or knives or guns or bloody period letters to keep everyone safe. Real pain in the ass, but as a panelist, my badge let me go through the special unguarded entrance. At that point, I was feeling so #blessed to be an Anti-KPop Fangirl writer and to have been invited to the whole thing...

As I rounded the corner to the goodie bag line, I was faced with ANOTHER logistical clusterfuck. From my observations, it seemed like the goodie bags were full of a lot of stuff intended for the primo concertgoers who paid for special seating (e.g. P1 and P2 on the floor area). As such, the majority of folks had to wait as the workers emptied out the fun stuff (I think it was at least a pair of foam lightsticks and maybe one or two other things), leaving a nifty set of KCON branded dog tags and a flyer. At least the bag itself was a decent totebag... Since I was P3 ticketholder, I had to wait in the general line with everyone else, suffering a great deal.

Ya, it was this bad.
Standing in that line, I remembered how much reservation I had about coming to KCON. You had your gross people, your smelly people, your creepy people, your all of the aboves, and your rabid fangirls. Seriously, standing in that smelly BO-filled line was miserable... Not to mention around the corner, B1A4 had just arrived on a mini stage to do a talk show segment for an MNET show (I want to say it was Danny From LA, but I could be wrong). As soon as they stepped on stage, the area burst into screams and many of the girls in line ran over to the stage to get a sight of oppa. After getting my goodie bag, I used the dog tag chain to hang my badge properly around my neck and decided to check out what the hullabaloo about B1A4 was all about.

Just as rabid as I thought the fangirls would be.
I felt a little guilty about taking advantage of my size to muscle my way into the throng of girls to get a better view, but I did it for the pics for this write up. Sorry, not that sorry. By the time that whole mess was through, it was about 1PM. My panel started at 4, so I had plenty of time to walk around and do stuff. I overheard a lot of people talking about how much free stuff was being given out in the marketplace, so I wanted to go get some too.
The marketplace was filled with sponsor booths and food stands, all wafting smells of BBQ and grilled goods into the air. It was all delicious-looking, but so so so expensive. Can you believe people charged $10 for a little bowl of ddokbokki? RIDICULOUS... I ended up taking advantage of my female friend who took advantage of her femaleness to get a discount. HAHAHA, she pouted a bit, the cashier boy melted and gave her a $5 discount for the whole thing, throwing in a couple of deep fried mini kimbap on top. Must be nice to be a girl...

After making the rounds, I decided to grab a poster to commemorate my experience. Official KCON branded posters were $10 for a huuuuuuuuge (about 21" x 78") magazine-esque edit of a popular image of the idols. Unfortunately, the GD one was hideous (they used this picture), the CN BLUE one was just their album cover, and they weren't selling any SNSD ones... Maybe some licensing issues with evil devil SME. I settled for an IU poster.

This is how it looks on my wall.
Not bad. I wanted to get at least an SNSD poster, but all the ones people were selling were the ugly nurses cover for Mister Mister (this one to be exact). Not a single decent SNSD poster or individual pictures so I could get Seohyun or something... They even had individual picture cards of 2NE1, for god's sake... Clearly the vendors figured the boy group stuff would sell like hot cakes, but not the girl group stuff. Life is tragic.


MY PANEL, AKA THE NUGU DEBUT OF ZAKU

Sooner or later, 3:30PM rolled around, so I headed over to the special guests' refreshment tent to check in and get ready for my panel. Speaking of which, it was pretty cool that the special guests had their own private tent. It was right next to the press tent, which made me feel pretty important l0l. Anyway, we all headed over to our panel area and waited to get set up. There were far, FAR more people than I expected to see at the place. I was pretty intimidated, since the more people there are, the more likely it was that I would either be recognized and lynched or booed.

I'm a terrible selca-taker, but there were two audience rows like that one. All filled...
It was pretty good from a successful panel perspective to have all those people there, but at the same time who would have thought that many people cared? The panel was called "How to be a Classy KPop Fan." My co-panelists were Shane from Shane's KPop Videos, Kenny Akm (who also does Youtube stuff), Sarah Edge from Green Tea Graffiti, and Julie Thai and June Saldino from Hallyu Magazine. All in all, all pretty qualified people compared to me...

The panel itself went pretty well. It started off a little rocky since people were too shy or embarrassed to as anything in the beginning, but people got more warmed up to us especially when we started to share personal anecdotes. Sarah was from Seoul, so she had first hand accounts of all the Korean craziness, and the others all went to plenty of KPop events in the past. I could only speak about all the online shit we write about here and the LA KPop Festival, but that didn't stop me from sharing some of my favorite tales of fangirl insanity (e.g. Yunho's super glue water, Taecyeon's period blood love letter, and Baekhyun's airport terror). I also debuted my Bell Curve of KPop Fandom theory (which I will be writing about later, l0l). Some people asked us about our thoughts on various topics that I found myself on the other side of the panelists for, e.g. Kemy's diss track (I loved it, some of the panelists were outraged) and fanfiction (I think they're hilarious especially the yaoi ones, the panelists were universally creeped out).

I had a lot of fun talking about stuff. I was also very flattered when some people came up to me after to take pictures and ask for my Twitter handle. I WAS SO EMBARRASSED, THAT'S NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE... But it was pretty cool. I wouldn't say we changed anyone's lives, but I was pretty surprised many people had never heard of some of the stuff we talked about. I think of it like an intervention almost, l0l.

Excuse my derpyness, I didn't know where to look. Too many cameras going off at once.
By the time the panel ended at around 5PM, we had about an hour to kill before people were allowed to go into the stadium for the concert. This meant I got a chance to meet Dumbfoundead randomly.

He seemed pretty baked. L0L
Not very many people seemed to recognize him, but I'm sure he preferred it that way.
THE CONCERT

6PM rolled around, and I was flabbergasted at how shitty the lines were set up to get in. Terrible terrible planning by the event staff attached to the stadium more than the KCON people in my opinion, but it was a shit show nonetheless. 

My seats were fairly good all things considered. I was sitting in the area where apparently all the MNET employees and friends and family were sitting too, so I suppose I was rubbing elbows with important old Korean folks. Unfortunately my phone could not keep up with the rigorous demands of the day, so I only had enough juice left to take a couple of photos of G-Dragon. Oh well. I'm supplementing my write up with pics from other places so you don't just stare at a wall of text the whole time. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to tell which ones are mine and which aren't, so I won't bother noting the difference.

The whole thing kicked off with Dumbfoundead as the MC for the night. Did you know he just goes by Parker now? l0l It was fairly obvious he was relying mostly on his cue cards and giving blatant lip service to the sponsors. Anyway, he introduced some random white guy (Jeremy Thurber??) who danced and sang awkwardly for about 2 songs. Seriously, it was REALLY awkward seeing some random white guy try the KPop soloist route. 

Oh baby.
Jun Sung Ahn came on next to cleanse our eyes and ears with really good violin covers of Lips Eyes Nose by Taeyang and Good Luck by B2ST. He even did the dance for it, pretty impressive. You can see his "studio" covers for Taeyang and B2ST if you're interested. 

I actually didn't know anything about him until now, so good for him for gettin' this exposure.
Next, Lee Seung Gi popped out to say a few things in English, then promptly disappeared for the rest of the night, presumably to go back to banging Yoona in a hotel somewhere.

Not mine.
VIXX started off the real concert with "Voodoo Doll", "Light Up the Darkness", and "Only U." I had never really listened to them until now, so I was pretty impressed by how interesting their songs were. After "Only U," they took the time to introduce themselves and talk to the audience a bit before launching into "Eternity" and "On and On." I preferred "Voodoo Doll," "On and On," and "Eternity" the most. Apparently, one of their mics went out during a song, but I didn't notice. L0L.

This wasn't as cheesy from the side.
IU, who was one of the people I was actually interested in, came out roaring with "The Red Shoes" which was even more fun in person. "You and I" was next before she took the time to talk to the audience. It took her a lot of effort to speak in English, but it was very admirable and cute of her to do so. She admitted she was nervous to be performing in LA for the first time, and hoped we were having fun. I was. :3

She did "Friday," which had surprise guest Niel from Teen Top do the boy's part to the shock and awe of fangirls in the stadium. "Good Day" was next, and the three-octave thing wasn't as cool as I was hoping it would be, but still pretty interesting. IU wrapped up her set with a rock version of "Hey," which had the odd set of cheerleader back up dancers. I didn't really get it (I still don't), but it was... impressive? Overall, I really liked her set so coming out for her was well worth the commute. 

How did they even practice for this?? I feel like they just grabbed girls from the area...
B1A4 were not as interesting as the crowd had hyped them up to be as I was walking around KCON. Opening with "What's Happening," and "Lonely," I was pretty bored by their cutesy stuff. I feel like they're just noona-killers or something man. They spoke to the audience after that, with pretty good English from one of the members. They continued with "Solo Day" which this WHOLE TIME I thought was "Solar Day" until I looked up their discography to write this. Holy moly. I will admit I was impressed by them during "A Glass of Water" because of their next-level fanservice. From where I was sitting, I noticed the stage hands prepping the stage with a bunch of super soakers so I was a little spoiled. But the crowd was shocked to see them whip out the water guns and spray the P1 and P2 seats with em. They sprayed it up to where I was sitting too, LOL. They wrapped up their set with "Baby Goodnight."

Do schoolboy outfits do for noonas what schoolgirl outfits do for creepy otaku? 
By this point, I was getting pretty antsy waiting for GD to come on so I zoned in and out of Teen Top's set. It didn't help that I didn't recognize any of their songs. I was kinda hoping for the legendary "Clap" aka "Crap" or even "Noona Don't Spray that Shit On Me," but alas. It was not to be. Instead, they did "Rocking," "To You", "Crazy", and "Rock Star." Their choreography was pretty sharp, but Niel still is the only one putting the entire team on his back. It might as well be Niel and the Boys as far as singing goes. I'm pretty sure they did only 4 songs (even confirmed with several other blogs and fan accounts), so it seemed like they got the short end of the stick this time around. Poor guys only got 4 where everyone else got 5.

Overall, solid set I suppose. I couldn't stop myself from glaring at CAP and his backwards-ass daughter-beating UGH-ness though. It was very petty of me. :/

That guy on the far right's earphones fell out as soon as he got on stage. I was hoping he
wouldn't trip on them the whole time.
FINALLY, GD came out with the flashiest bit of stagecraft of the night (even of both days). The overhead LCDs came down to block him out as his stage rose up. Pretty cool. YGE was kind enough to upload the 3/5ths of the set on their Youtube page, so you can see for yourself.







I'll admit, I wasn't the biggest fan of GD's post-Heartbreaker work, but seeing it live was FUCKING HYPE. He blew the stadium open with "One of a Kind," which I thought was decent but meh at release, but then thought it was the best shit in the world. I am embarrassed to admit I was on the edge of my seat (didn't get up for fear of pissing off the important Korean old people I mentioned earlier) screaming and singing along. "MichiGO" was next, another song I thought was garbage but then was hype as hell to hear. His stage presence was PHENOMENAL, and he played to the crowd well (inb4 Kpopalpse yells at me for stage presence comments). He took the time to talk to the audience after that. GD is surprisingly soft-spoken in English, like a shy little boy almost.

After his talk, he launched into "Who You?" and "Crooked." I had forgotten entirely that those two songs even existing, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear them again. "Crooked" especially was very good live. He wrapped up his set with "Crayon" which somehow became the MOST hype song of his entire career to me. Holy moly, I was beside myself with fanboydom... Pretty embarrassing to think back on it, but my SNSD experience was even more so in comparison. More on that later.

His shirt was even uglier in person though...
When his song wrapped up, he was told to stay on stage as the rest of the Day 1 performers went back on to ham it up for the crowd. His vaunted professionalism was on full display as he bowed to all everyone. I was impressed that it wasn't just hyperbole from crazy VIP fanaccounts.

Overall, I thought Day 1 was pretty good. It was a lot better than I was expecting from all the nugus, so they did really well for rookies. GD was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of hype, energy, and stage presence though (there I go again, sorry oppa). KPop is a LOT more fun in person.

PART 2 TO BE UPLOADED LATER

34 comments:

  1. So Zaku enjoys yaoi fanfiction...

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  2. DON'T TAKE THINGS OUT OF CONTEXT, DAMN IT

    I ONLY THINK THEY'RE FUNNY

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  3. I bet TOP is mad that the thought of fingering your butthole to GD crossed your mind.

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  4. But yeah, going there for IU alone would be worth it. Maybe if KCON and AKF are both still around in 2017 or some shit I'll go.

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    1. ui is worthles and generic shit.

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  5. You look exactly how I thought you would. No that is not a bad thing.
    GD has the power of hype. I dunno how but he does. ZAKU TELLS NO LIES!!!!!1

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  6. SO basically this is the short story on how OP becomes a closet faget and fell for GD

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  7. Also was All-kpop there? That would be hilarious!

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    1. Soompi was there with an exhibitor's booth and Koreaboo was part of some panels/workshops. Allkpop was snubbed! LOL

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  8. You perceived stage presence in GD because you already had a GD boner. That's exactly how it works according to my article.

    I would've gone for IU. If you get bored of the poster let me know, Also FYI IU's "three octave thing" in Good Day isn't a three octave thing. Whoever first coined that doesn't know what "octave" actually means. I could write a blog about it but that's probably a better topic for Akisame to cover because writing about idol vocals sends me to sleep.

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    1. Someone did a decent write-up about IU's vocal in the old akp forum believe it or not. I remember it because IU stans and other self-proclaimed "best vocal amongst idols" fangirls started fighting. It was fun.

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  9. If I lived in the LA area, I probably would have gone to this only because of IU.

    Such a rare opportunity to see her.

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    1. Went to Queue-Con..I mean K-Con, just to see IU and Sunny. Glad I did, IU was surprisingly good to see live.

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  10. Sounds like a good time. Even though I didn't get to see it, it makes me happy that IU puts on a good show.

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  11. Seems fun, I think the number of people there isnt even close to as insanse as comic con.

    Wish I could come there :/

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  12. Zaku, you have no openly disclosed "yourself".
    I'll have to think about this for several weeks, goodbye.

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  13. Zaku oppar, why no fancam ? U suck T.T

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    Replies
    1. My phone was low on battery, LOL. Maybe I'll invest in a GoPro or something if we get invited back next year.

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  14. Woah. You live in OC, too? Small fucking world.

    I totally agree that G-Dragon is really hype. I went to Kcon 2013 for f(x) and Crayon Pop and ONLY f(x) and Crayon Pop. The girls were mesmerizing, sparkly, and did everything real textbook. GD was just full-on manic and pumped. There was just so much energy that even I got swept in it. His performance was still scripted like all the other acts; it just didn't feel scripted. His songs may sound like shit, but damn, it's fucking animated in person.

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  15. vixx had a whole set and they chose not to perform hyde? whaaaaat

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  16. "Apparently, one of their mics went out during a song, but I didn't notice. L0L."

    All that needed to be said ^_^

    Good writeup though.

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  17. Zaku, you remind me of Mickey Rooney's character from Breakfast at Tiffany's.

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    1. http://renegadecinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Mickey-Rooney-Breakfast-At-Tiffanys.jpg

      O ty

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  18. I was there. I grabbed your asshole.

    Remember?

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  19. Oh, I really like the length of this, most people write their uh... fan accounts... reports... whatever, way too short. Hurray for lengthier texts.

    Do wish I could see IU perform live too.

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    Replies
    1. That's one of the bigger reasons why I wrote mine so detailed. When I read these things, I wanna know why something sucked or was great and not just paragraphs of "asludfnalsjfnalsjdf FEELS OMG Asdfkjandsflkjanf" bullshit.

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  20. kcon smells like ass, especially when you're armpit level

    last year, while every other artist could barely get a word out because everyone was screaming their heads off, GD raised a finger and the stadium went dead silent in a second. stage presence? who knows

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    1. Thank god at 6'3" I'll rarely if ever have to be at stinky KPOP fan armpit level.

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