Monthly Archives: June 2014

Interesting….

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One thing that I’ve been noticing on my perambulations around the Web is various people posting that they didn’t know Block B before they saw them in concert, and now they TOTALLY LOVE THEM!!!

Which is great, of course, but not something I was really expecting–I guess I was thinking that people wouldn’t cough up that kind of dough for a concert ticket if they didn’t already like the group, but then again I’ve certainly been roped into any number of concerts that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise because my friends were going.

Naturally the old business-reporter brain kicks in way too late, with a “WHY WEREN’T YOU MONITORING YOUTUBE VIEWS!!! YOU SHOULD HAVE ANTICIPATED THIS!” (The business-reporter brain is not big on living in the moment and letting go of regret.) And it’s not like Gaon would help, either, since that’s Korean sales, not U.S. sales.

Finally I bopped on over to Amazon, and hey! Blockbuster is #4 on Amazon’s World Music: Korean and Pop: Korean Pop charts, as well as #5 on its International Rap chart!

As I’ve mentioned before, Amazon’s numbers do tend to be volatile, so this just may be a coincidence. Buuuut…it makes sense to me that people new to Block B would pick up Blockbuster first (the other albums aren’t high up on Amazon’s charts like that), because it’s a lot of music, it’s relatively inexpensive (especially on a per-song basis), and it contains many of the songs they did at the U.S. showcase.

Anyway, I hope there’s a nice bump in sales, because the more Block B sells as a result of their tour, the more likely they are to come back….

ETA: Obviously I also have a handy-dandy gage of interest in the traffic I get to BlockB.com, but 1. it’s not like anyone makes any money off that, and 2. it can be hard for me to tell if an uptick in views is new fans or newly-excited existing fans.

Things I didn’t see at the Block B concerts, but wish I had

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Oh, man–next time I’m just going to have to go to every last one of their shows, aren’t I?

In DC, I missed what appears to have been Block B’s first encounter ever with a seriously buff lady:

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Photo by pijuuu

Although apparently I missed it because it happened right after the fox, so I was distracted. (It was a fox!)

Charades in Miami! U-Kwon continued to have the best skill set combined with the worst luck imaginable. Listen for P.O’s cheat at the 2 minute mark!

Fan cam by r8rm3ss

Oh, God, and then they capped it off by including shout-outs to charades in New York (“Spiderman” was the term the non-“weightlifting” team got) and DC. They are never afraid of an in-joke, are they?

Fan cam by r8rm3ss

And priceless, precious footage (that I cannot get to embed–argh) of Block B unwinding in Miami by punching each other in the nuts. As one does.

Media outreach 101; or, What should we do the next time Block B comes to the United States?

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As you may remember, I was very optimistic about being able to get some stories in mainstream media about Block B’s U.S. tour. Things started out great–got them into Billboard, whoo-hoo–but then this happened and the campaign was scuttled. Presumably this won’t be a problem in the future (fingers crossed!), so I want to talk a bit about the media coverage we did get this tour, and how we can get more the next time around.

I’ve tried to keep tabs on media mentions via Google Alerts and periodic searches of ProQuest–neither is perfect, but each is helpful in it’s own way–and until quite recently, there have been almost no mentions of Block B in mainstream U.S. media. (Obviously K-Pop oriented media covers them regularly, as do certain Asian and Asian-American media outlets, but I’m interested in getting coverage for Block B in media that hasn’t covered them before and that is read by a wider American audience.) Since Westbury is not that close to New York City, the New York concert got no mentions in local media that I could find. The DC concert got two small listings in the Washington Post–but you can’t even find them by searching the paper’s Web site, you have to use ProQuest.

Florida, though: Different story altogether. There has been an article in the Miami Herald and two articles in the Sun Sentinel’s SouthFlorida.com. (ETA: Plus one in the Miami New Times.**) That’s especially nice because once something gets covered by a news outlet, it tends to continue to be covered–an article before a concert means its more likely we’ll get a review after the concert. Also, once a story is covered by one media outlet, other outlets start feeling like they have to cover it.

Question: What made the difference?

Answer: Reader engagement, plus a certain understanding of what media outlets feel they need to do.

Florida is having a K-Pop convention (which was apparently deliberately timed to coincide with Block B’s concert–good thinking!) and the convention organizers and/or fans presumably reached out to the local media. It helps that the two events coincide–a K-Pop concert is just a concert, but a K-Pop concert plus a K-Pop convention is a trend, and local media is pretty much compelled to cover trends. Plus, you will notice that fans made themselves readily available to reporters. That’s extremely helpful–make a reporter’s job easy, and they will be more likely to do a story–so good for them!

With Billboard, the approach was to contact the reporter who covers K-Pop and make the argument that Block B was a group of interest. That was not hard to do: Block B has been on the Billboard charts before, and they will presumably be on the Billboard charts again. A publication that has chosen to focus on K-Pop in the United States really ought to be covering Block B.

In both cases, the key was understanding what the media outlet is looking for, and then customizing the story pitch to those needs. If you’re helping reporters and editors do their job, they will be so much more receptive than if you’re just screaming or whining because they won’t hand you a story. You have to give to get.

I know people are sometimes skeptical that it’s possible to get mainstream media coverage of things that are somewhat on the fringe, but guess what? That’s how fringe things become mainstream things. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill, getting bigger and bigger as it picks up more snow. You just have to figure out the right place to put the snowball, and then (and this is key) you have to give it a push.

I should point out that Block B also does a damned good job of selling itself, which is very nice. Why did Block B get two articles in SouthFlorida.com instead of just one? Because they’re funny. Zico described himself as a “preppy Muppet” for God’s sake–no reporter worth her salt is going to pass that one up.

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I totally see it!

Note: Block B’s press conference? Press releases? Those were completely useless for getting mainstream coverage in the United States. No media outlet is going to send a reporter to a press conference unless the subject is already on their agenda (which is why that stuff all ended up in the K-Pop and Asian press). How does a subject get on the agenda? Readers put it there.

** Does it matter that the New Times reporter managed to get very nearly every detail about the showcase wrong? No, no it does not. What matters is getting Block B’s name out there.

Concert(s) Report: Da fan stuff

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As I’ve mentioned, I did the photo op and fan signing in New York, and neither was much fun because we were really given the bum’s rush through both. I mean, I’m no princess, but when someone’s holding onto you arm like you’re sure to make a break for it while screaming “No gifts!” at the people in front of you, you start to wonder why you paid for the experience.

The fan signing was basically like a sweatshop assembly line, with the boys signing as fast as they could–I’m guessing that wasn’t much fun for them, either, which was probably why DC was done differently.

I wanted to tell them that I was the person that did BlockB.com and that if they want me to change stuff about it or if they want me to give them the domain name, I’m happy to do that. I didn’t say anything during the photo op, because it was such an oppressive environment, but during the fan signing I realized that I had better open my mouth.

Who has the best English? Park Kyung! So I said to him, “I do the BlockB.com Web site.” Being Park Kyung, he reacted like I had just offered him a badly-needed kidney donation and shook my hand (furtively, so that we wouldn’t get busted).

DC was a much nicer environment, with VIP/VVIP people getting a relaxed moment to chat with the boys.

Just a little background: I have two nieces, one 6 and one 9, and I told them that I would give them the signed posters. The younger one has been in love with Taeil ever since she heard “Mental Breaker” at the tender age of four (she’s very musical). Since I could talk to him this time, I asked him to draw a heart on the poster, because it was for my niece who loved him very much. He did, but I think he was pretty confused because his English isn’t great, and I was wearing that Feggy Min Zico shirt! (I really don’t have a bias, I just like the shirt, but there was no way I was going to be able to explain that….) [ETA: I’m home now, and I just noticed that B-Bomb drew a heart on the other poster, which happily makes everything “fair” for the older sister. Thank you B-Bomb!]

P.O said something like, “It’s nice to meet you,” so I said, “I saw you in New York,” and he said, “Wow!” Park Kyung recognized me (or at least pretended to), but he couldn’t place me, so I said “BlockB.com!” and he shook my hand again. (But duh, I didn’t tell him that they can have the domain name… Well, at least he’s met the person behind it, so hopefully if they have concerns, they’ll feel like they can talk to me about it.)

With Zico, I showed him my shirt and said, “See! Feggy Min!” He said, “Wonderful!” And then I grabbed the poster…and realized that I hadn’t shaken his hand. So I just sort of held his right hand with my left, and then I was off into the muggy night!

Concert(s) report: Da venues and da fans!

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Of course, da boyz are only one part of the concert-going experience, and I wanted to write about the venues and the fans as well!

I got to the Westbury Theater about an hour before the show was scheduled to begin, and it looked like this:

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Yeah, quite a few people there. They had us all wait in the same line until they opened the doors, at which point they let the VVIP folks in first.

I took my seat, and the theater was like this:

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It was very cool. I was in the third row, on the aisle the boys had to walk down to get too and from the stage. (So I got some high-fives, which was fun–U-Kwon hit me twice with his left hand, and he was wearing his couple ring. Maybe because of the whole EXO/SNSD dating “scandal,” but I found it really moving to realize that he was wearing it onstage. I’m really happy he can stand up for his relationship, you know?)

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Silver on the shirt, silver in the hair–that’s me!

As you can see, they were right down in there with us, which was great–Park Kyung in particular regarded this as an opportunity. I actually saw him fondle a woman’s face at one point. (Grease alert! I hope she brought astringent!)

The round stage did rotate (at one point when asked how he felt about being in the US, Zico replied “I’m spinning”), but they didn’t rotate it often, especially not during the songs when the boys were dancing. That meant that at some points, they did dance with their backs to us, but I actually found that really interesting because you could see the “behind-the-scenes” bits of the routine. (They check in with each other and stuff.) Taeil and P.O in particular usually get shunted to the back because they don’t dance that well, and at one point they turned around, only to realize that they were 1. facing us, and 2. front and center as far as we were concerned! This seemed to amuse them.

The fans were great! Everyone was really friendly and chatty, and the energy was amazing. Actually, I feel I need to apologize to the young lady sitting next to me–she was so nice, and then when they called people off to the photo op, I took off like a shot and without a word! I assumed that it wouldn’t take much time and that I’d return to my seat, but I was wrong on both counts–I’m sorry, I should have at least said good-bye!

Twice during the show, the MC had boys draw seat numbers from a box, and if your seat was called, you got to go down and play charades or get sung to. Well, Jazzy Group put seats and entire rows in that box that didn’t actually exist–Row B of a section that didn’t start until Row C and the like. So they had to keep drawing and drawing until they got a seat that was both occupied and, you know, there.

Sounds like a real drag, right? But we BBCs make our own fun–people started cheering for their sections to be drawn! I was in Section A, which was (sob!) never chosen, and we started to chant, “Section A! Section A!”

I have no idea if the boys understood what the hell we were rooting for, but Zico finally decided to join in, so it went:

SECTION A: Section A!

ZICO: Yuh!

SECTION A: Section A!

ZICO & P.O: Yuh!

Section A dissolves into laughter.

[ETA: There’s some rumors out there that the NY concert was truncated because choosing seats took so long. If it was, the DC concert was equally truncated–the only difference in the song list that I noticed was that Block B switched the order of “Nalina” and “Nice Day.” It was billed as a K-Pop showcase, not a concert, and exactly that’s what it was.]

When I went to DC, I figured I’d take to opportunity to see the sights (I like DC–there’s a lot to do, and it’s very walkable). So in the morning I was bopping around, and I thought, “Why don’t I find the Warner, so that I’m sure I know where it is?”

So at 10:30 am, I took this picture:

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That’s the Warner, and yup, those are BBCs camping out!

By 5 pm, the line looked like this:

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The concert didn’t start until 7:30. By the time the doors opened, the VVIP line looked like that, and I have no idea what the regular admission line was like, although it was clearly pretty epic.

Obviously, people didn’t have to stand in line–it was assigned seating! So I walked around a bit before joining the party, and I realized the other advantage of having a concert in the middle of town (aside from the fact that people can actually get to it): All the civilians were looking at the line of very excited people and going, “What’s that all about?” When we went inside and were waiting, I overheard some of the staff at the Warner talking about how it’s been really a long time since they seen a line around the block like that (especially given that it wasn’t general admission) or seen that kind of excitement about a show.

Needless to say, I took the opportunity to educate some folks on the wonder and glory of Block B!

Once again, the fans were great–the energy was fantastic, and people were really friendly and chatted each other up at the drop of a hat. People were really funny, too. When I was in the VVIP line, there was this guy standing in front of me with his lady friend. He had this HUGE duffle bag, and occasionally he would turn and whack me in the shins with it. It was really heavy, and I was wondering what was in it. Then the couple realized that they were in the wrong line, and off they went.

At the end of the show, they came down for the high-touch–or rather the lady friend came down with the guy in an enormous, full-mascot fox costume! It was excellent! Block B cracked up, the fans all cheered, and the fox wound up high-fiving everyone down the aisle after he was done with Block B!

Oh, and people kept asking me what I was wearing:

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That’s genuine Feggy Min!

Concert(s) report: Da Boyz!

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OK, so I attended the New York concert on Sunday, and the DC concert last night! Both were really awesome and fun. This may be kind of a sprawling post, or I may break it up–the downside of having so much fun was that I was way too wired to sleep either night after the concert, so I may completely lose all abilitafiyag gbyhah zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sorry about that!

I guess I’ll start with da boyz. They were great performers–very polished and entertaining. I was really pleased to realize just how good they are now at just plain putting on a show.

Fan cam by colourpunchhh

Seriously, there is something almost Temptations-like in the way they dance nowadays!

I was all the more impressed because after the NY show I (and many other people) noticed that Zico looked like he wanted the entire world to GO AWAY AND LET HIM SLEEP, GODDAMMIT. The only sign of that during the show itself was that he kept saying how much he appreciated all the energy the fans were bringing, and that that energy was really the thing that kept him going. I kind of assumed at the time that it was just butt-kissing, but seeing him after the show I’d say that he really meant it all in the most literal way possible. (He was definitely in way better shape after the DC show.)

I also noticed after the NY show that P.O was rather…subdued. Again, during the show he was doing everything he was supposed to do…but nothing more. That was a stark contrast to the DC show, where he was a constant source of wacky hijinks. (He and Zico joined forces to razz the DC translator, who apparently wasn’t quite up to the job of translating Block B’s special take on Korean. Poor girl!)

Jet lag waited until DC to do its evil thing to B-Bomb, I think. He was professional and sang well in DC, but his dancing was just not as high-energy and sharp as it was in NY. At one point in DC there was an opportunity to have a little dance-off with U-Kwon, and B-Bomb just kind of didn’t–I don’t think he would have passed that up in NY.

I thought the non-song parts of the show would bore me, but Block B was so funny I just didn’t care. In both NY and DC they played a competitive game of charades, where they split into teams, added in fans to make two teams of six (with the extra member being the referee), and did a game of what was basically telephone charades.

U-Kwon is, not surprisingly, an excellent charades player, but luck was simply not with him either night. In NY, the word was “weightlifting,” and he did such a great job of miming lifting weights that everyone cheered when he finally lifted the imaginary weight into the sky. But the girl he was charading (if that’s a word) to, who had been freaking out the entire time, was just too overwhelmed to play. So she went back to her seat–and then Zico stormed over, twisted U-Kwon’s arm behind his back, and frog-marched him off for making her cry! It was so funny! (U-Kwon was returned and did his charades to Park Kyung instead. Ever the showboat, when Park Kyung lifted his imaginary weight, he did it with one hand!)

Fan cam by MaknaeLoveB2ST

In DC, U-Kwon was the first person on his team to get the word, which was “Elsa from Frozen.” Well, he certainly knew he was screwed–it’s charades! You can’t sing! He actually did a good job with the miming–Elsa’s hair, her gestures–but there wasn’t much hope. At one point his team just wasn’t going to get it, so P.O (who was on the other team) jumped in with a cheat. It was such chaos that eventually the girl at the end finally started to cheat, too, turning around to see what was going on. It didn’t help, though, and eventually U-Kwon was so frustrated by the failure of communication that he just burst out humming “Let It Go.” She got Frozen, but the team lost (rampant cheating!), and U-Kwon bowed to everyone on it in apology…..

Fan cam by Madeline Nguyen

OK, I think I am going to break this up into multiple posts after all.