One of the biggest events in the K-pop calendar, the Dream Concert returned for its 22nd iteration last Saturday. The jam-packed line-up included Wanna B, Romeo, A.cian, Berry Good, April, Laboum, Imfact, Tahiti, B.I.G, CLC, December, 24K, Jo Jung-min, Hong Jin-young, Halo, Boys Republic, Fiestar, NCT U, I.O.I, Mamamoo, Seventeen, Lovelyz, T-ara, Vixx, BtoB, B1A4, Nu’est, Exo, Woohyun, Taemin, and more.

This year’s concert was broadcast on Naver’s V app, and you can replay the entire concert and red carpet there. But if you don’t have five hours to watch the entire thing, I got you covered with my highlights of this year’s concert; let me know what you think of them, and share yours in the comments, too!

Most Grandiose Intro: I.O.I

It seems there is only one way to perform “Pick Me;” with so many dancers that the only way a camera can capture everyone in the same frame is by backing it all the way up to the nosebleed section.

And while — or maybe because — the 11-member version of “Pick Me” just does not sound as good as the version that became Produce 101‘s most recognised tune, we were treated to just the dance break from not just the show’s top 11 trainees, but scores of students from Seoul Arts College, as well. But while the effect was nice, it did seem like overkill for what was, at most, a 75-second intro. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your entire day dedicated to a 75-second mass performance. I hope those Seoul Arts College students got what they needed to make it worth their while.

Nugus to watch: Boys Republic and Romeo

How have I never watched a single performance of Boys Republic’s new song? “Get Down” sounds like the evil twin to Red Velvet’s “Ice Cream Cake.” Between the individualised outfits — one of them could only be described as ‘straightjacket chic’ — and the non-stop choreography, I didn’t know where to look.

I knew exactly where to look for this performance of “Target” from Romeo, but I still cannot believe that the members can move so fast — even after trawling through every single live performance they have done of this song so far. Either everyone is speeding up footage of this rookie group from a small company, or they really are that fast and that precise in their movements.

Cutest Outfits: April

Other stage costumes to catch my eye were April’s light blue fairy wings and matching wands — the members (and mascot Sawori) looked too cute for words! I adore everything about this entire comeback, and I am going to miss performances of “Tinkerbell” when April stops promoting.

Also, an honourable mention to Red Velvet’s print tees: Yeri and Wendy were wearing your average American sports paraphenalia, but Seulgi took it to another level with a sequinned oversize tank dedicated to basketball team the New York Knicks. Meanwhile, Irene was ‘2on’ for this shit and Joy was just plain ‘Lit!’

Most Epic Mash-up: G-Friend

G-Friend arrived to huge cheers to the crowd, before proceeding to blow everyone’s minds with this mix of their schoolgirl trilogy. The six members transitioned seamlessly between “Glass Bead,” “Me Gustas Tu” and “Rough” before performing the full version of their (inadvertently) most well-known song to date, “Me Gustas Tu.”

Most Fun Throwback: B1A4

Generally, at multi-act concerts such as Dream Concert, groups will perform their most recent songs; but some groups mixed things up with an older track or two. Nu’est and B1A4 opened with their most recent singles (“Overcome” and “Sweet Girl,” respectively), they both also chose to follow up with tracks from 2013. Nu’est revisited “Hello” with some revised choreography, while B1A4 were really enthusiastic about performing “What’s Happening?” to the point of using their talk time to teach the crowd the chorus, so that they could join in on the fun B1A4 was having on stage.

T-ara led up to their performance of “So Crazy” with past hits “Bo Peep Bo Peep” and “Roly Poly” — and while the members moved as though they had gone hard at the gym and all their muscles had seized up, their winky fan service saw them through. And male ballad duo December took things further with their 2012 single “She’s Gone” — it was also the only song they performed.

Most Superior Collaboration Stage: BoA’s “One Dream” by Yuju, Seulgi, Yezi, Seunghee and Sejeong

Listen, I liked the guys’ stage too, but the glib VCR intro, Leo’s unstable opening lines, and the sloppiness that crept in towards the end factored into my decision. The ladies’ stage had an adorable VCR featuring MC Kim So-hyun and pre-debut performance clips of the idols, followed by a strong performance from all on stage. My only quibble was with Yezi’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance; but considering how it actually matched quite well with her current position as the new ice queen of K-pop, pouting in black, it’s a minor quibble.

Most Hustle: Exo

Exo is coming back this week with not one, but two title tracks — and they want you, and everyone who saw Dream Concert to know! In between performances of “Call Me Baby” and “Love Me Right,” we were all treated to the excitingly sinister teaser for “Lucky One” and some music show-type slideshow crap for “Monster” (though we did get something better the next day).

I don’t want to say that the great amount of thought put into the concept and aesthetics, the high production values of the music and visuals, and the massive marketing push is because SM sees BTS some rising boy groups as threats… Actually, no — that is exactly what I am saying. As long as we’re getting quality music over fanwars, though, I don’t mind.

Most Random Performer: Milijenko Matijevic

Usually, Dream Concert has a white, male DJ play a short set somewhere in the middle of the event. This year, the DJs (Joy and Doc) are Korean, but a white male still managed to sneak in somehow.

Matijevic, singer for an American rock group, Steelheart, has been promoting in South Korea for a while now — he was even on Mask Singer earlier this year — and I don’t quite understand why. Maybe he or his band is popular there. I honestly don’t know, and Google doesn’t seem interested in explaining anything to me, including this performance.

Most Potentially Awkward Ending Song: DBSK’s “Balloons”

DBSK’s rendition of this children’s song is always fun to listen to (and watch), but when current SM idols are told to act like anyone who has left the company on bad terms no longer exists, how did all the SM kids in attendance react? Well, the same as any other idol on stage — what were you expecting?

Everyone went about their business of waving to the cameras and putting on fan service for the audience. The only really awkward part, as someone mentioned to me, was when the cameras turned to Hani during boyfriend Junsu‘s parts.

(The Korea Times, YouTube[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]. Image via: Hankyung News)