Concerts, cons, whatever


There’s been a lot of “Oh, K-Pop events outside of Asia are always a mess” over on Asian Junkie, so I thought I’d address that for a minute.

At this point I’ve been to four Block B concerts, Show Me the Money concert, a Dynamic Duo concert, and an AOMG concert, and I have to take issue with the notion that these kinds of things are invariably some kind of disaster. I would agree that the AOMG concert would have been better at a different venue (although that is more a Seattle problem than a K-Pop problem–there’s a shortage of performance space here), and the New York Block B concert was definitely disorganized. But it’s not like the shows weren’t worth seeing or the environment was dangerous or anything (and all of the shows I’ve been to except the first two Block B shows had open floors).

I’ve also read second- or third-hand accounts that massively exaggerate (or invent) problems at these concerts, including allegations that the fans rioted (!) at the New York Block B concert, which is complete bullshit. Other than people sneaking back into the high-touch line, there was not a lot of misbehavior, and the venue was actually pretty awesome.

Do I regret seeing this? No.

But I would toss out a few things to consider if you are thinking of attending a K-Pop show or convention:

Why do you want to see the show? Are you in it for the explosions and Psy flying in the air over giant inflatable waves? That’s too bad, because all of that probably won’t happen. No traveling show is going to be a spectacle of the sort that can be generated in a 14,000-seat stadium. If you don’t think the group actually sings or dances well enough to be entertaining, you should probably stay home.

Are you in it because you’re hoping that you’ll make eye contact with your idol, and then he’ll immediately fall in love and whisk you away to a magical island? That’s not going to happen, either. (True story: Park Kyung recognized me from the stage in San Francisco and it freaked him the hell out. Yes, he and I are at that very special stage in the fan/celebrity relationship where the celebrity recognizes you but doesn’t remember where he knows you from, so he thinks you’re a stalker.)

Are you OK with the format? Is it called a “fan meeting” or a “showcase”? That means less music and more charades. If you’re not OK with that, save your money.

Personally, I am not too crazy about conventions in general, and I’m picky about music, so I’m not planning on going to K-Con Los Angeles. That said, if you really like conventions, then own it–get together with your buddies, do your cosplay, practice your cover dances, pass around your fan fiction, and just generally set yourself up so that even if you have to sit through some things you don’t like, you will still have a good time overall.

What do you really, really not want to have happen? I paid for pit tickets for both the Los Angeles and San Fransisco Block B shows–and then I made a beeline for the back of the pit. I enjoy being close, but I really don’t like being squished, so that was the best approach. People act like they have to be right up next to the stage, and then they complain about the crowding–you can’t have it both ways, you have to prioritize.

You also need to think about the kind of group it is and the reputation the fans have. I like BTS, but I’d certainly not go see them in, say, the same venue I saw AOMG–it’s too open (I’d be more comfortable with seated, given the intensity of the fandom), and you can’t see the dancing anyway.

Who’s organizing this, anyway? If you go to the organizer’s Facebook page and it’s all people complaining, beware. If there’s a lot of “These guys are coming! No they’re not!” beware. Conventions and festivals are always more risky because if half the groups get canceled, well, there’s still the other half plus the vendors, so–hey! You got what you paid for! Kind of!

Are fan-organized events always a disaster? No, but I would definitely poke around to see if they’ve ever organized anything else on the same scale–something that goes for professional organizers as well.

Does doing all this guarantee that you’ll have a great time? Nope. No guarantees in life. Hell, you might get food poisoning the day of. But if you do a little research and keep in mind what you do and do not like, that does greatly increase the chances that you’ll have an experience that you actually enjoy.


7 responses »

  1. “Stand in the back of the pit” – Thanks to your advice at the Block B concert in Los Angeles, I didn’t get pushed or elbowed, no one stepped on my feet, and I still got a clear view of what was happening on stage. And you’re absolutely right that a fandom’s personality and size of the venue should be factors when deciding on pit vs. seats tickets – for instance, I’d do pit again in a heartbeat for Block B’s next U.S. comeback, and stick with seats for groups like EXO.

  2. I’ll remember to stand to the back for any pit Block B concerts I attend. I avoided the pit for Babymetal last night (filled with older men pressed up against the rail) and stood to the side: so I got side views, but really enjoyed the live experience. It worked out well.

    I think those guys recognized me too at the hi-touch and photoshoot (or maybe they recognized me at the hi-touch after I declared I must stand next to Jaehyo and so must this other fan here at the photoshoot). I was blocked from seeing the stage front on thanks to the tall, broad people in front of me (so much for being close to the stage) but I had a good side view of Jaehyo on his stool, and he saw me too. (Yeah, that woman there with the love-lights and dippy smile.)

    I also think they’re going to recognize repeat-ahjummas. At this stage, all the young-uns must look fairly similar: dyed hair, lolita-esque outfits or jeans & t-shirts with yellow and black everywhere.

  3. Pingback: Grade A quality fan service | My Other Blog

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