I knew that for my first trip to South Korea I had to incorporate some fanboy music elements into it. Visit to SM Town Coex was a must, but I was really hoping to step it up a notch, and see one of the bands that I enjoy live in concert. I has been regularly checking the schedules of some groups (Twice!), but nothing of interest was coming up. Just in the week before my travel I finally saw a light in the tunnel – Blackpink Private Stage in Seoul, exactly within the dates I would be in the city. While technically it was not a concert, but sort of a fan meeting, it was close enough. I booked the ticket (I managed to get a VIP seat fairly close to the stage) and only had to show up at the time and place.
The girls were doing 2 shows on the same day and I ended up choosing the one at 1 pm, since better seat option was available. When I arrived at Seoul Olympic Hall it had already been flooded with fans, some decked from head to toe with BP accessories. I must admit I was kind of sticking out, not only as 190cm tall white guy (there was only a handful), but also as this almost-30-year-old, who’s twice the age of the majority of the crowd gathered. Music connects generations though, so I was not overly shaken by that.
Initially I was not very keen on queuing up for merchandise, but I gave in to the atmosphere of the excitement and got myself a set of 3 lenticular (3D) band posters. I passed on the lightstick – not only it was like 20 bucks, but also a guy of my stature should not be waving around with a Sailor Moon wand.
I assumed that 2,000 people that were supposed to fit into the concert hall seem like a humble number, but it did take quite some time for everyone to slowly get into the venue. Everyone was given a remote control thingy for voting, as the event had some interactive elements at times.
I should mention here that I do regret that my Korean is at non-existent level, even after hundreds of dramas watched and thousands of songs listened to. I would have had much better time if I was at least at upper beginner level. Still, I focused on trying to understand some bits and pieces especially during the first phase of the show, which was quiz-based. The segment was MCed by Kim Shin-young, well-known Korean comedian, and as far as I am concerned she did a good job. The girls appeared slightly awkward at times, but they were definitely trying their best there, in front of mostly local fan base (I am aware that netizens are picking up on BP for being mostly focused on promoting internationally). The bit lasted for around an hour – I laughed quite a lot during some games, but I will not go into much detail here, since I could not understand much of what was said 🙂
Finally, the performances actually started. First up was Jennie, with an acoustic guitar cover of Best Part (Daniel Caesar feat. H.E.R.). Intimate, romantic, subtle. Such a great voice.
Lisa and Rosé followed, with their rendition of the old time classic L-O-V-E. It was absolutely charming, and after the song, a short making-of video was displayed on the screens.
The last one was Jisoo, wearing Harry Potter cape, accompanied by Stay. She went for a ‘magic show’ performance, talked to fans, and then was drawing seat numbers from a box and asking the audience members to fill in blanks in ‘Stay’ lyrics, with something made up (this is as much as I could understand).
The girls returned on the stage full of charisma, the lights went wild and the bass rumbled the hall. Kill This Love was totally killer indeed. I still remember the chills and thrills of that moment. What a banger this song is!
Don’t Know What To Do, a more dance-y track was next – I would jump around too, if it wasn’t a different kind of place. My fanboy moment came when the girls went round the hall singing Kick It and greeting the fans, and thanks to my perfect seat I was only a meter or two away from the path the girls were walking on. All 4 members were incredibly thin, tiny, and cute. Jisoo was definitely standing out as the most beautiful for me though! The girls then sat down and sang 아니길 (Hope Not). They also took a photo with the audience as the backdrop and mentioned they’re working on the new album (I might be wrong about the sequence of events here).
The show was over and I was more than impressed. I used to think that kpop is all about the packaging/visuals and that’s it. While I didn’t necessarily change my mind regarding this fact and I still think it is crucial for the genre for better or worse, there’s just so much positive energy accompanying this music. Seeing and hearing it live is just the best.
I can’t imagine how much slaving away and torture goes into producing this final effect and I respect Blackpink and all the other groups even more now for their tough grind.
Kpop concert huh… Definitely something I need to attend again, whenever there’s a chance.