C is for Comparing K-pop and American Concerts
I have attended three concerts in my life. In April of 2014, I attended my first ever concert: B.A.P. Seven months later, my second concert: VIXX. Finally, last year in November, I went to my third ever concert: DNCE.
Three concerts all taking place in the USA, and ironically it wasn’t until the last one that the artist was an actual American group who spoke and sang in English.
Some background: As you can all quite clearly tell, I’m a K-pop fan. Been one since 2010. Before that however, I was a fan of Tokio Hotel. Even before that, I was obsessed and in love with the Jonas Brothers. Yes, I was one of those – in fact, I still am. I follow Kevin and Danielle on social media, I’ve been blasting Nick Jonas whenever he releases a new song, and I was absolutely over the moon when I found out that Joe Jonas, my “bias”, was coming back with his own new band. When he tweeted that they were coming to my city, I excitedly texted my sister and cousin and we set the date.
Amidst living out my childhood dream of going to a “Jonas Brothers” concert, I couldn’t help but spend a lot of the time comparing the experience to my previous two K-pop concert experiences. It’s hard for me to even link the three events into the same category because they were so vastly different.
For one, the tickets to DNCE were literally a fraction of the price it would cost to see a K-pop concert. Maybe it’s different now since DNCE has become more popular, but I was astonished when I was able to pay for three GA tickets for much less than my one ticket costed at either of the other two concerts.
The venue at DNCE was also very different. B.A.P and VIXX both performed in larger theaters, whereas DNCE took place in the showroom of a bar. It was much smaller, which was actually a plus. The whole thing felt a lot more intimate, and we were able to get really close to the stage. You can see at the end of the video below just how close we were.
It did get tiring to have to stand for the whole thing, and by the finale, people were so excited and pushing up against each other that it was hard to move or stay together as a group. However, since we were so close, there was a moment where I swear Joe made eye contact with our area. I mean, we were three girls wearing Hijab; he had to have noticed us. Something like that is impossible to even tell at K-pop concerts unless you are right up against the stage.
Since the show was at a bar, there was definitely the presence of alcohol. I do believe some people were drinking at B.A.P, but it wasn’t nearly as apparent as at DNCE. At the very end of the show, the members of DNCE even incorporated drinking into their finale. I see this difference to be the result of two things: I’m sure that more people going to a K-pop concert are underage, and the culture of Korea and attitude that people have towards their celebrities is that they remain classy and composed at all times. Even if Korea has a large drinking culture like the U.S, the artists never bring that on stage with them. This is something that I personally really respect.
I was freshly 21 at the time, so even though I don’t drink, I very proudly showed my ID off to to the security. Just to prove that even if I wasn’t going to, I still can drink. 😉
Now for the actual content of the show. The glaringly obvious difference is that there was no choreographed dancing. As fun as it was, after a while it did get a little old seeing the same person walking around the stage with a microphone. Dancing just gives performances so much more life, and that is something that K-pop will always have over American music. It was cool to see how raw everything was – the voices, the instruments – but I really missed my dancing.
There was also less talking. At K-pop concerts, there are points during the concert reserved for fan interaction. Even though most of it is very obviously scripted, those are the moments that I remember most. With DNCE, there was some incidental talking, like when Joe accidentally knocked one of the audience members with a cardboard cutout, but aside from that, there was no real conversation going on. Ironically, the only real moment we had where they talked to the crowd is when Joe gave the mic over to Jinjoo, the one Korean member in the group.
Sidenote: I completely fell in love with Jinjoo. I went there to see Joe Jonas, but came out a huge Jinjoo fan. Part of it is that she is Korean and brought out the K-popper in me when she gave her little shoutout to her homeland, but she is also just a really cool person. In a group full of guys, she very clearly stands out as cute and feminine, but at the same time she rocks out just as hard as all three of the guys. The way she plays guitar with her sunglasses and calm composure. C-L-A-S-S-Y.
Now this may just be an American thing, but there was no sense of fandomhood at DNCE like there have been at the K-pop concerts I went to. At VIXX, while I was in line to use the bathroom, I just started a conversation with another girl in line who was telling me how much she loved Ravi and how excited she was since that was her very first concert. At DNCE, even though we’re all there to see the same people, everyone pretty much kept to themselves. This difference is much harder to see unless you have experienced the sense of community that is so integral in the world of K-pop. We felt it a little bit at the end, when DNCE sang Cake by the Ocean and everyone got all excited together, but outside of the actual performances, I just didn’t feel that buzz of love flowing through everyone.
I had a lot of fun at DNCE, and I definitely consider my childhood dream fulfilled. In the end though, nothing can top a K-pop concert. The dancing, the fan interaction, the grandeur, the love. That is the best part about this fandom.
For those interested, below are two other performances I caught:
Cake by the Ocean (+finale):
Question of the Day:
Thoughts on concert culture? How would your local concert compare to a K-pop concert?
#NowPlaying: Spy by B.A.P. Since we’re talking about concerts, this is one of the most memorable performances for me from the B.A.P concert two years ago. Yesterday, I introduced my cousin to B.A.P in preparation for this year’s concert, and it just put me in a B.A.P mood. (She’s now Daehyun-biased in case you were wondering 😉 )
Wanna talk K-pop? Follow me on Twitter @mystification86!