The first ever, and highly anticipated, KCON NY was an exciting experience from start to finish. From excited crowds of dancing K-Pop fans to even a surprise booth appearance from an idol, there was never a dull moment.
Hours before the convention was scheduled to start, fans were lining up at registration. Approaching the center was enough to rile up that flutter of butterflies in your stomach. The Prudential Center is a beautiful structure. The Jolly Gray Giant has been home to numerous events in the past such as 2NE1 in 2012 and 2PM’s Go Crazy Tour in 2014. First impressions are everything, and I was definitely impressed.
Rumors were flying around the internet for months, predicting the downfall of this once anticipated expeditions. Fans who had purchased concert tickets, were trying their hardest to sell them and get their money back. All of that didn’t matter once you took your first step onto the premises. Tents and booths filled up the Championship Plaza and Mulberry Street. Since it was almost 8AM, the whole thing wasn’t a finished product, but it already look amazing. If you weren’t drawn in by the visuals, the atmosphere was already beginning to pulse.
Fans had already been flooding the street, but things really took off at the official opening time. The street and plaza were packed. Making it through one group only to have to squish through another. As the sun beat down on the con-goers, the party never stopped. There were plenty of places to visit, from the various fan clubs to merch booths and even dance contests! The K-pop Festival booth was completely surrounded by a crowd of dancing kpop fans.
Fanclubs such as East Cost Kpop Outlet (ECKO) and Soshified were selling merch and other things! ECKO sponsored fan sessions with Boston based kpop duo HIGHBROW, who are signed under MBK Entertainment (same as Speed and T-ara)! We can’t forget MOIM , who was hosting fun selfies with their Instagram sign! Make sure to check them all out by clicking on their names!
The booths in the plaza were brimming with excitement. The Bibigo booth was hosting fun games! The McDonald’s booth had an entertaining ring game where you could win cute prizes. Dramafever was giving out cool and fun gifts! The Toyota Dance booth even had a very special guest, Teen Top!
The day’s schedule was jammed packed. The Panel and Workshop booths housed fun activities! The workshops helped con-goers learn some basic cooking skills, skincare, and even how to apply makeup like a real K-pop star! The panel booth was always completely full, people spilling out into the plaza. The panels were very informative, talking about the influx to idols becoming actors and a variety of things about Korean media. Fans were even able to meet their favorite Reaction Stars, such as Mister PoPo!
As I wandered around the convention, I ran into two very special people. K-Music partnered up with Hallyu World for a very special collaboration during the convention. Janalee from K-music was working with Eric from Hallyu World to bring us a very special video, giving a very special view of the fun activities within KCON!
Throughout the day, I was able to listen to fans talk about their exciting artist engagements! Those with P1 had a chance at winning a Hi-Touch Experience with either Teen Top or VIXX! P2 was able to get an Audience Pass for Teen Top, AOA, or VIXX. It was wonderful to be able to hear how happy everyone was to be able to have such a sentimental experience with their favorite idols!
After all of the Artist Engagements were complete, it was time for the K-pop Festival! In the past months, performers had been competing in an online submission competition. 6 finalists would be chosen to compete at KCON NY 2015 for a the chance to perform at The K-pop World Festival in Seoul! It was my very first time standing in a press pit, so the stress was on. I was given the chance to watch these amazing performers up close!
As the guest judges were announced, the fans cheered! The first judge was the winner of K-pop World Festival 2013, Elly Nonon! Jeff Benjamin of BILLBOARD was the second judge introduced. Jeff is known for writing many articles about K-Pop performers! The last judge was maybe the most special of all, none other than VIXX’s very own Cha Hakyeon! Leader N was just as excited to participate as the rest of us as he sat. His enthusiastic expression only heightened my anticipation of the performances to come! An opening performance was put on by I Love Dance!, well know in NYC for their flash mobs at almost every K-Pop concert.
The acts were Serendipity, Cindy Vo, The Class, Stampede, Trudi, and Haru. All the competitors did an absolutely amazing job! Serendipity, The Class, and Haru all put on stunning group performances; almost matching the skill of the very idols whose dance they were covering! Cindy Vo and Trudi had stunning vocals, both able to belt out notes I could never even dream of! Stampede performed a K-hiphop inspired dance routine, leaving my mouth hanging wide open. In the end, a winner had to be chosen. After a very tough deliberation, The Class was chosen as the winner, with Trudi and Haru taking 2nd and 3rd place.
The convention came to a close, leading to the most anticipated part of the day; the concert!
All day, fans were lined up along the building, waiting for the night’s festivities. The center was sectioned off through the middle, the stage set up in the middle of the arena. KCON M Countdown flashed on scrolling screens along the edges on the balconies. The standing space was completely full, fans armed with light sticks and custom made signs all over the arena. The opening acts were JunCurryAhn and winners of the K-pop Festival, The Class! JunCurryAhn performed stunning violin covers of BigBang‘s ‘Loser‘ and other hit songs. The Class blew the fans away with their sensational custom cover of VIXX‘s ‘Hyde‘
As the lights began to reset, Tiffany emerged from a rising platform on the stage, welcoming fans to the first ever KCON ‘Ignite Your Feelz‘ Concert in New York! As she took her leave, the beat for a very familiar song began, causing the fans to roar with excitement. VIXX emerged. Their stage began with ‘Error‘, a beautiful start to an truely epic night. Leo and Ken performed a short rendition of Bruno Mar‘s ‘Talking To The Moon‘. They then went on to perform ‘On and On‘, and ‘Eternity‘. Their NY showcase in November of 2014 was more than enough to prove that VIXX had an unmatched skill when it came to stage performances, but this only reinforced this belief. Their confident and synchronized performances were more than impressive to watch.
VIXX wanted to show their fans their cute side as they performed ‘G.R.8.U‘ and “Love Equation” A majority of these stages were spent with the members laying some intense aegyo on the crowd. The members descended to the middle stage to interact with the fans. Smiles and hearts were being tossed around willy nilly, causing fan boys and girls to squeal in excitement.
Ace Of Angels was up next, beginning with their new summer hit, ‘Heart Attack.’ I was personally very excited for this song, I stood from my chair and danced along with the girls besides me. The girls went on to perform ‘Like A Cat,’ ‘Confused,’ and ‘Miniskirt‘. The screams from the crowd consisted of a large portion of fan boys, but the sound was as piercing as ever. The girls performed elegantly, their sultry moves and cutesy facial expression were the perfect killer combo for their strong stage presence.
Next to hit the stage was KCON veterans Teen Top! They started off slow with a gripping performance of ‘5 Seasons‘. Like the flip of a switch, the group transitioned into true dance mode. Their next song was their recent summer smash hit, ‘Ah-Ah‘. They finished up with ‘Miss Right‘ and ‘Rocking‘. I was severely impressed by their dance skill and all around attitude on stage. Teen Top puts everything they have into making each stage unique and powerful. The crowd cheered so loud for them, it had me almost in tears.
As a surprise to the crowd, VIXX’s Ravi and N appeared in one of the sections as MCs! Hyuk joined in and the members began taking selfies with the crowd. Oh Hyukie, why are you so cute? ChoA, Hyejeong, and Yuna of AOA took the stage to perform Alicia Key‘s ‘Empire State Of Mind.’ Teen Top’s Niel and Chunji performed and impressive rendition of Extreme’s ‘When I First Kissed You.’
It was then time for the main event, the much anticipated performances from none other than Girl’s Generation! They started with ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ stating at the end that the dance always leaves them out of breath. They went on to perform ‘Check,’ ‘Genie,’ ‘Gee,’ ‘Run Devil Run,’ and ‘Party.’
I entered this concert only as a Starlight and I left a member of 3 new fandoms, especially a SONE. SNSD has had years to hone their skills and they have definitely paid off. You would expect a veteran performer to be some sort of relaxed on stage, but the girls had a constant stream of energy flowing from them to the crowd. I was utterly awestruck by them, unable to keep my eyes from them or keep my body from dancing along.
All of the artists took the stage to bid farewell to their fans, delaying their inevitable exit to send their love to the huge crowd of cheering K-Pop fans. I couldn’t contain myself and stood to cheer with the hundreds of other who screamed out to these amazing idols. There is just something special about seeing a K-Pop group perform in person. It’s not just people on a television or computer screen. They are real people with dreams and aspirations. People who have honed their skills for their fans and perform diligently, just for us.
The day ended with fans lingering to talk to each other about how ‘absolutely amazing’ and ‘perfect’ the day had been. KCON NY 2015 was a success from start to finish. I was glad to be a part of this special experience. What can we expect from KCON NY in the future? Only time will tell.
Until then, stay tuned with KMusic for all your daily K-Pop news.
Source: Hallyu World Youtube, MOIM Facebook, ECKO Facebook, Soshified Facebook, HIGHBROW
Photos courtesy of: KCON, Janalee Afonso, Sandra Lavoy
Edited by: KareBare