So. There was bit of an overcast cloud trailing this year’s festival, as apparently SM, YG and JYP all went “screw it” and prepped their artists for the Jeju Island Inkigayo special. To be honest I wasn’t completely sure of the lineup until fellow Seoulbeats writer Johnelle and I got the hookup and well – I’ve never been out west, ok? And I’ve certainly never been to California, stayed at the Downtown Sheraton spent an entire evening in Koreatown and watched fellow k-pop fans go batshit crazy. In person. I loved every minute of it.

Staying at the Sheraton was an entire experience unto itself. I suppose because while I’ve definitely been a fan I’ve never actively participated in a fandom; and something as fairly removed from me as k-pop, seeing that in person, it was a bit crazy. Hell, you start wondering if you’re crazy.  In fact, you know things have shifted over into madness when you have to wear a ‘state-fair-ride-everything’ armband just to get in and out of the hotel.

To say it was beyond a treat to meet Johnelle is an understatement, (aloha) but  I am by no way painting the other fans with the same crazy brush. I met some folks there that were as cool as hell; some more-so, because they let me interview them as you will see.

Now, I am not much of a concert-goer- you have to be a damn good performer to get my money – but now I understand; I understand why people go. The almost contagious excitement, the overwhelming feeling of exhalation that flows over you in waves when you hear a song you recognize, and oh my god, thousands of other people know it too. Also, for any of you have been unable to do so, you MUST see DJ DOC in perform in person before you die.  You’ll probably come back to life as a result.

Easily most enjoyable moment for me, though you certainly get a thrill hearing those songs live(ish?) and in person. When the night was over I was cold, tired and desperately in need of some sleep, but I had developed some genius, philosophical understanding of why I loved these silly little songs that I could hardly understand. I would tell you exactly what  it was, but US Airways jet lag fried my brain. I think it involved assassins, Area 51 and the number 42.

Ok, time to cut the maudlin crap and and get what everyone shows up for right? Which k-pops artists were there, who was nice, looked a hot mess, etc. For those of you for which this is a seasonal sport, my encounters are probably weaksauce, but hey, I could’ve stayed in the hotel room and taken a nap. Don’t say I never do anything for you guys.

1) Secret I saw as soon as I stumbled into the lobby with my 110 lb bag. I wouldn’t have known it was them were it not for Hyosung’s long blond extensions. The funny thing is, while I was getting stampeded by the crowd, the girl’s looked generally shocked that they couldn’t just traipse around in the snack/souvenir store. Not here ladies.

Good performances (I’m biased). They didn’t perform until the second half of the show they were of the elite that got three songs (and lots of stage lighting).

2) K.Will, the funniest because when he arrived at the hotel it took the fans a good 5-10 minutes before they realized who it was. Then they went crazy. A fan jumped right out in front of the poor dude as he was entering the hotel, and boldly asked for an autograph – chick’s got some ovaries on her.

Performed in first half primarily, but looks like Daesung, and can really sing. If you were a K.Will fan you couldn’t really be disappointed.

3) SISTAR – Another group of girls I would not have recognized from ever had they not been giving autographs. Also WORST SECURITY EVER. I suppose they felt the group wasn’t as popular and wouldn’t need them, but there were two fairly normal-sized guys fidgeting with an iPad. However I guess I should thank them for being so bad at their job – I ended up on their side of the autograph line, and attempted to pick up Dasom’s (the maknae) pen when she dropped it. Our heads collided and she still couldn’t pick up her pen in those shoes. She was sweetly apologetic about it, though it wasn’t her fault.

Sistar was two-song fare, performing earlier in the show. I honestly wasn’t paying much attention but they hit all their marks so Dasom’s concussion from earlier couldn’t have been that bad.

4) U-Kiss were like the elusive chupacabra every female fan was trying to bag and mount on her shelf. Though they did get caught a few times (apparently a group of fans accosted them in the elevator. Yikes.) My brief U-Kiss moment was…strange. that’s really the only way to describe it. I was waiting in line (yes, waiting in line) to ride the elevator back to our room, when I hear a ding behind me. Elevator door opens, out comes Kevin, looking a freaking one-week -old kitten or something. He waved and said “Hi,” (you know that “hi”) and I blankly said hi back. And he just skipped on into the ether, either unconcerned or poorly misinformed about what was going to happen to him. The screams started, I felt like I had taken a hit of acid, and was ready to go to bed.

Uh, yeah performance was fine…come to think of it they performed fairly early, but I believe got to sing three songs; still we were surprised they weren’t in the second half.

5) It was notable to me who wasn’t spied at the hotel (or was very briefly). In particular, I kept forgetting 4Minute were supposed to perform until they were advertised to during intermission. They ended up being the last girl group of the night, and as I said, nor hide or hair of them them showed up the entire weekend. Maybe they were just better at blending in than the others.

They performed fine, (and ‘Hot Issue’ to my delight- I missed the backpack) but something was lacking, like they were – tired, maybe? One theory I heard is that they were hitting the town the night before, but I tend to think it’s more k-pop/j-pop cross promotion exhaustion.

6) Jay Park was another one staying in an undisclosed location, but going by the screams during his set, there was NO WAY he’d escape the hotel lobby alive.

I quite liked his performances, and he has strong command of the stage for someone so young, for someone in k-pop. I could finally sense that independent rebellious streak that could have caused problems at JYP. We’ll never know what really happened, but Jay doesn’t seem like a guy who will bend easily to a superior if you get my drift.

7) Oh! Almost forgot G.NA, and she was co-hosting the thing. She performed fairly early on also and she is a decent performer and I covet her hair (real or fake). Also, either G.NA just lost a ton of weight , or the Korean media have been going way overboard with the busty thing. She is just as small as every other female performer I saw that night. Toned, but small. She was another artist there were reported sightings of, but overall  remained incognito.

We stayed until the concert’s “We Are the World” moment at the cold, bitter end, after which the Hollywood Bowl showcased its usually extraordinary fireworks show. I don’t even need to celebrate 4th of July now!

So that was my adventure (I should have brought my fedora), and god willing, I’ll be able to go next year, perhaps see some other groups (cough, Big Bang) and maybe have a state-of-the-art camera to shoot with? It could happen…