Possibly one of the few K-pop concerts that is a must-see for all K-pop fans is the YG Family concert. Legendary for the incredible energy and star-studded line up, the YG concert is known for its head-banging excitement combined with out-of-the-world fun. Fortunately for me, Singapore was the only South-east Asian stop on the YG Family 2014 World Tour: Power list, and I instantly grabbed the opportunity to see international sensation Psy, K-pop legends Big Bang, edgy queens 2NE1, all for the price of one ticket. What a deal!
Although there were quite a few artistes that were MIA – Lee Hi, Akdong Musician, Team B (who appeared in the Seoul concert), it didn’t take away from the experience at all. These groups do not have as wide of a fanbase internationally as of yet, although it still felt like a pity to miss out on some of the collaborations between these three acts and their fellow labelmates. Seungri was also nowhere to be found, due to his car accident the day before the concert.
Compared to a solo concert, there’s much less flow in the setlist, as the various groups appear in segments to perform a few songs before the next group does the same. Thus, it would seem the best to evaluate these groups separately, save for a few collaboration stages.
Having just attended their AON: All or Nothing tour just 3 months ago, most of their stage performances and outfits were identical. Opening the night with “Crush” and “Come Back Home” was a great choice as it immediately set the mood for the headbanging night. Even with only four of them, the 2NE1 ladies showed that they meant business with the way they worked the stage and belted out the notes.
While they had choreography to adhere to, it was all infused with their own unique style and facial expressions. It didn’t feel too robotically rehearsed and it gave them room to simply bask and react to the crowd’s cheers. While CL took centre stage most of the time with her swag-filled rapping, Minzy made the most of her limelight with her dance breaks and I finally understand why fans say she’s under-appreciated. Dara and Bom’s vocals were also amazingly steady, considering that the amount of jumping going on was enough to burn 1000 calories. As much as the three ladies did their best, they still have nothing on their leader when it comes to presence, due to CL’s natural confidence on stage.
Even though they likely had the least amount of fans in attendance, Epik High didn’t fail in putting 110% of their effort. They were off-the-walls in terms of energy, running from one end to the other while maintaining their 100 km/h rap lyrics. They pulled off comic dances moves, goofing off with each other, all the while not forgetting to interact with the audience, even getting off the stage to get closer to the crowd. I’m frankly not too familiar with their discography, but their passion for their work is infectious and I could definitely appreciate the mastery of their skills.
Best part of the night? Tablo trolling his members, introducing Mithra Jin as one of the ‘top 10 skinniest celebrities”, and DJ Tukutz as a ‘male stripper’, while their blank faces showed they had no idea what he was going on about in English.
It’s admittedly tough taking the stage after such lauded K-pop veterans, but Winner definitely held their own, making their appearance on swings from the ceiling. All their live stages during WIN: Who Is Next definitely paid off as their poise surpassed that of a one-month rookie group. Heck, I doubt I could find any other rookies who could be as professional in commanding such a big stage. Nevertheless, they haven’t quite mastered the same reverberating exuberance and spontaneity that their sunbaes have, although it could probably be attributed to nerves.
In most concerts, I often deal with the issue of the live band overpowering the voices of the singers. However, even with the deafening music, Seung-yoon’s strong and steady vocals shone effortlessly above the backing track, and I simply couldn’t take my eyes off him after that. I was thoroughly impressed, and he has indeed found a new fan in me.
Literally, once the screen flashed the Big Bang logo, the crowd went insane. They started off with their classic crowd-favourite “Haru Haru” and the boys showed off that they were seasoned professionals. They went through most of their high-energy hits relentlessly, and the cheers nearly burst through the roof when the bass of “Fantastic Baby” dropped. It was a dynamic stage with the entire crowd chanting along to “Boomshakalaka”.
Occasionally, Big Bang’s stages felt like four different solo acts taking the stage simultaneously. From T.O.P’s deep and husky voice that set about a million fangirls swooning, to Daesung’s powerful and reverent vocals, to G-Dragon’s quirkiness and nasal pipes, and to Taeyang topping it off with his smooth R&B style and mad dance skills. In fact, it was hilarious to compare Taeyang’s non-stop freestyling side-by-side with T.O.P’s awkward swaying and clapping, especially since they were both jamming to the same song. They all served as contrasting complements to each other and their presence was so overwhelming that I couldn’t decide on one person to focus on. Daesung also covered seamlessly for Seungri, that I hardly even noticed his absence.
At the end of the day, the Big Bang boys seemed so into the moment and they completely allow their fun-loving free-willing spirit to take over their movements and performance. In fact, it didn’t even matter that the four of them weren’t performing much of the proper choreography, since they were just having a blast and their individual antics were more entertaining to watch.
Perhaps the most amount of choreography they did was when they covered 2NE1’s “I Love You”. They transformed into femme fetales, swishing handkerchiefs and swaying butts. T.O.P started the song with off-pitched howls, and the other members immediately played along by sashaying their hips seductively to the music. The price of the concert was literally worth it for that one stage alone.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA3GrxxRKAQ]
If I were to name my favourite artist of the night, it would have been Psy. He’s literally a ball of liveliness, wittiness, and soul packed in one. Commandeering the stage solo, he powered through his 7-song setlist with only his stamina and his posse of backup dancers. His fluent English skills came in handy while he bantered with the crowd to gain rapport.
In Korea, I have been a singer for 14 years. But here, I’ve only been a singer for 2 years. It’s okay that you only know two of my songs, and don’t pretend to know my other songs.
I know you guys will enjoy those two songs, but that’s the song’s ability, not my ability. I want to show you my other songs, to show you what I’m capable of.
It was remarkably humbling to see Psy acknowledge that part of his popularity only stemmed from the virality of his two ‘funny’ songs. And it speaks a lot about him as an artist that he still wanted to showcase to the audience his lesser-known songs, which showcased his true, if hidden, artistic self. The English translation of the lyrics was showed on the screen for all his songs, revealing his desire for the audience to soak in the message in his song. The MV for “Father” was played on the monitor as he sung it, and it definitely introduced a retrospective and somber mood to the night.
And then he ended off with “Gentlemen” and “Gangnam Style”, both of which got the crowd on their feet and dancing along. LED lights on the backup dancers’ costumes created a very mesmerizing 2-minute dance break in between the two songs. Psy’s high-octane energy is really no joke, his vocals never once faltering in his 45-minute solo performance. This engaging side of Psy is sorely underrated, and I wished more credit could be given to him as a sincere artist.
Ultimately, this is what drew me to the YG Family concert. If I wanted to merely see my favourite artistes perform their own songs, I would just go for their solo concert, since I don’t have to sit through acts that I have less interest in.
Daesung and Seung-yoon killed it with 2NE1’s “Ugly”, with the song hitting a little closer to home for Daesung. Both belted it at the top of their lungs, with modified lyrics and arrangement. Daesung practically poured his soul into the chorus and Seung-yoon even played along by wearing a pair of ugly glasses before suavely throwing it off.
Taeyang partnered with Tablo to pull off an emotional duet of the English-Korean version of “Eyes, Noes, Lips”. It was almost surreal to hear Taeyang perform this song live with his soul-rending and passionate vocals, although Tablo’s self-composed English lyrics left a pretty big impression as well. As much as I love their collaborations, I would have loved to see a raw and stripped-down version of “Eyes, Nose, Lips”, with just a solo spotlight on Taeyang and a mic stand.
Dara made an appearance to segue into Mino and T.O.P’s “Doom Dada”, and it was a giddying experience to see the spotlights flash faster as T.O.P’s bullet rapping sped up. G-Dragon also appeared as a featured ‘baddest male’ to introduce his good friend CL’s solo stage with “The Baddest Female” and “M.T.B.D”.
I was personally wishing for both collaborations and covers, but all in all, it was a great night with unbelievable enthusiasm and various magnificent stages. The performers definitely put in a ton of effort, and every single audience member felt it in their bones. The energy level hardly waned throughout the night, and it was further enhanced by an absolutely excitable crowd, and performers who looked like they were having the time of their lives. A YG Family concert should officially be on every K-pop fan’s bucket list.
- 2NE1 – Crush
- 2NE1 – Fire
- 2NE1 – Come Back Home
- 2NE1 – Gotta Be You
- Epik High – Fly
- Epik High – 비겨
- Epik High ft. Dara – Love Love Love
- WINNER – Go Up
- WINNER – Empty
- WINNER – Smile Again
- BIGBANG – Haru Haru
- BIGBANG – Bad Boy
- BIGBANG – Fantastic Baby
- WINNER – Just Another Boy
- CL & G-Dragon – The Baddest Female + M.T.B.D
- G-Dragon – Crayon
- T.O.P ft. Mino & Dara – Doom Dada
- Daesung & Seungyoon – Ugly (by 2NE1)
- Epik High & Taeyang – Eyes, Nose, Lips
- Epik High & Park Bom – UP
- Epik High – Don’t Hate Me
- BIGBANG – I Love You (by 2NE1)
- PSY – Right Now
- PSY – Entertainer
- PSY – Champion
- PSY – Father
- PSY – It’s Art
- PSY – Gentleman
- PSY – Gangnam Style
- 2NE1 – I Am the Best
- 2NE1 – Scream
- 2NE1 – Can’t Nobody
- BIGBANG – Tonight
- BIGBANG – Feeling
- BIGBANG – Hands Up
- BIGBANG – Lies
- BIGBANG – Heaven
- YG Family – Go Away (by 2NE1)
- YG Family – Fantastic Baby (by BIGBANG)
- YG Family – Gangnam Style (by PSY)