201600717_seoulbeats_kcon2016Another year, another KCON LA. As usual, the line-up for KCON 2016 LA Presented By Toyota was phenomenal for both nights, and the fans almost brought the house down. For those that didn’t attend, or that need a reminder, here is the line-up:

Night 1
Block B

Night 2
Monsta X
Eric Nam

Let’s discuss our experiences!
Favorites? Least favorites? Things you liked/thought worked well, or didn’t? Fangirl/boy moment?

Willis: Saturday was probably my favorite of the two nights. I personally had more energy and felt like there was a good flow to the lineup. I was pumped to listen to Dean and he didn’t disappoint with his velvet voice and stage presence.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Turbo‘s performance, and the special Turbo cover stages by Astro and GFriend. It was a great throwback to an older era; the songs were catchy and Turbo can still work a crowd. SHINee are just unbelievable. I’ve seen them a few times before, but they were simply electric that night. I even heard Minho became a bias wrecker for some our of own staff.

20160803_seoulbeats_kcon16ericMonsta X started the second night with a bang. They were at KCON LA last year, but the growth of their stage charisma over the past year is evident. They are way more confident and charismatic this year and their personalities filled the arena. Astro were a nice surprise. They pull off these cute songs with some complex choreography and are certainly talented rookies to look out for. Twice gave me life on night 2 when they came out singing “Cheer Up” while BTS left me devoid of any life force after they rocked the stage — the screams of thousands of fans rang in my ears for the rest of the night.

Cjontai: Initially, I was worried that being in the pit would be a nightmare, but it actually wasn’t too bad. I kinda lucked out by being near the back edge because I had a really good, clear view of the idols. Being short has many disadvantages if you’re in the pit, so do your best to be up front or along the sides. Avoid getting caught in the middle as best as you can. Also, work up your calves for all the standing you’ll be doing for two hours.

Surprisingly, I.O.I was my favorite from the night. Trust that SHINee collected every ounce of my soul, but I.O.I opened the concert with such great, bubbly energy. I didn’t expect to even sing along, yet here I was bouncing around the pit to “Pick Me.”

Going back to SHINee, I think I blacked out briefly when Jonghyun and Key moved to our section because I still wasn’t ready to see my bias Jonghyun that freaking close. I recorded a snippet of the historic moment, but the first 10 seconds is me shaking the camera and trying to gather my brain cells. I completely lost it!

Seeing Quincy Jones and Lee Min-ho were other noteworthy moments. And yes, Lee Min-ho is super fine in person. It’s almost unfair that he’s so attractive.

20160803_seoulbeats_kcon16btsLo: Saturday was definitely the better night of the concerts. I’ve never been a Dean fan– too slow and measured for my tastes– but he killed it onstage. Just so much charisma. I.O.I. was pretty fun, though I was bummed that “Crush” wasn’t on their setlist. The highlight, though, was SHINee. Seeing their dancing up close and personal changed my life. The vocals were stunning, the setlist was awesome; “Beautiful” was an unexpected but fabulous choice. And yes, Willis, Minho somehow went from my least favorite member to tying with Jonghyun for my SHINee bias. I don’t know either.

Day 2 was a little more “eh” for me, though BTS was ah-may-zing. “Dope” gave me faith in humanity once again. Davichi was unexpectedly entertaining, with a command of the stage that only true veterans have. Their styling was also gorgeous; best outfits of the concerts.

Sarah: Interestingly, I vastly preferred Sunday’s concert over Saturday’s. While Saturday’s was very fun and entertaining – I loved the throwback stages done by GFriend and Astro, and especially Turbo’s performance itself. As the veterans of Saturday night, their stage presence and play with the crowd was spectacular.

However, the energy of Sunday night was so much higher overall. From Monsta X’s explosive beginning to the earth-shaking screams that welcomed in BTS, the crowd was so much more energetic that second night. Where Saturday night was very fun and a satisfying concert, Sunday completely killed it. I think it was partially the return of Amber halfway through (which we were hoping for but not guaranteed) to sing a duet with Eric Nam. Perhaps it was the awesome high-flying, board-breaking Taekwondo performance that kicked off the whole thing.

As Willis mentioned, Monsta X were vastly improved over their already great performance of last year and really got the crowd going with All In. Astro, despite their cutie image, kept that energy up, and Twice managed to buoy it along as well with their upbeat hits and dancing. Eric Nam, while singing slower songs, provided a steady break with his open crowd flirting and belted high notes. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed with the song choices of Davichi as they broke the momentum a little (and I’ve never been a huge Girls’ Generation fan, so there’s that…), but the low energy was saved when Twice came out again to perform a smashing cover of “Uptown Funk”.

And when Amber and Eric Nam returned as MC’s afterward and the stage lights went down, you could feel the crowd suddenly realize who was up next. The palpable excitement was only partially expressed through the rabid screaming and the moment when Eric Nam finally gave up on his introduction to simply turn over the stage instead to… BTS. I will never forget that communal feeling of sky-high anticipation. Even BTS’s full set felt longer and more hyped up than SHINee’s. Maybe we were just sitting in a clump of Armys, or maybe it was the fact that SHINee chose ballads where BTS chose “Cypher Pt.3.” Not denying I didn’t sing along to “Everybody,” with literally everybody, but BTS’s ending just felt more complete and really wrapped up the whole weekend very nicely.

20160803_seoulbeats_kcon16gfriendMark: Despite the crowd being much rowdier and more into it the second night, I’m with Willis in feeling that the first night was the more enjoyable. I can’t help that they put GFriend and Block B on the same night; I just enjoy their discographies so much more than that of the others. Plus, the first night was my first time experiencing a star-packed collaboration concert so I was definitely taken aback by the lure of the lineup. I had a feeling that Zico was going to be in the collaboration stage for Saturday but I had no idea he was going to come with “Boys and Girls” featuring fellow Block B member U-Kwon. That felt like icing on top of the cake for a wonderful first night.

The second night felt like everyone was just waiting for BTS. Like Sarah, I too felt that the lineup transitions were a bit jarring at times. The night started out very high energy with the rookie and sophomore groups paving the way and then it ground to a halt as the vocal-focused acts took the stage. Davichi was by far the most impressive vocalists to perform and I was surprised at how well Minkyung and Haeri complemented one another and pulled their own weight in each song. TTS was probably the most disappointing for me because I didn’t realize how little choreography they actually did. Following Davichi is tough for any vocal group and TTS certainly faltered because of that.

When BTS came on stage, it finally felt like I was at a real concert as almost everyone in the venue got on their feet. This made the concert experience much more enjoyable. Instead of the usual awkward golf claps from non-enthused fans, everyone got into it and it finally felt like a party. BTS pretty much played all the songs I wanted them to, just that my only gripe was that they did the Suga-dominated cypher which had no choreography instead of doing “Baepsae.” But now I’m just nitpicking.

20160803_seoulbeats_kcon16deanLorenza: My first instinct is to say Sunday was the better night in my opinion, but Saturday had more breathing room between each set which made the overall experience less…feels intense. The only way Saturday could have topped Sunday is if Amber had just one more song. Honestly, I’m still recovering from the emotional roller coaster that was KCON.

For Saturday, the stand-out was GFriend; I wasn’t a fan of them, despite really, really, wanting to get into them. Now, I think I’ll have to go and watch their performance videos. Seeing Turbo was also amazing, but I think that’s just because I never expected to be able to see Kim Jungkook in all his glory. I honestly cried during “Borders;” seeing Amber get emotional while she introduced the song and then while performing just struck a chord with me.

Seeing SHINee live was amazing. I knew they would be phenomenal and they completely surpassed all my expectations. “Everybody” was a great way to close Saturday.

Sunday, though, was electric. From the moment Monsta X took the stage to BTS closing the night with “Dope,” it was one pumped up moment to the next. It was a bit overwhelming. I agree with everyone else when they say that Monsta X has improved their stage performance. I also need to give their stylists a hug for putting Wonho in a choker and then a studded leather jacket. That look never gets old on him. The only let down for me was TTS, but that’s because I’m just not a fan of Girl’s Generation. Their vocals were great, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

Seeing BTS live was amazing. The crowd was clearly there for them and was so ready by the time they came on stage. They put on an amazing show and I need to see a solo concert. They left me wanting more at the end of the concert and you could tell they also weren’t ready to leave yet.

If this is the quality of performances KCON is going to be producing each year, I’ll definitely be back.

20160803_seoulbeats_kcon16idolsLindsay: I’m having a hard time picking one night as better! I guess for me they were both amazing but in different ways.

Nothing in the world can beat seeing SHINee live for the first time. It was a practically religious experience for a long-time Shawol like myself. The quality of their live singing was more perfect than I thought possible, and yes, Minho is literally the cutest thing ever (my bias has been Onew since 2010 and I’m not changing it now, but Minho has definitely taken second place). I think the thing about Minho is that he is a good combination of sexy and cute, but most importantly he is the most attentive to fans during live performances which makes him impossible not to love.

The other big highlight for me on Saturday was Turbo. They were so much fun, plus the special stages by Gfriend and Astro were a good tribute to an era. There is something engaging about seasoned performers that just shows through in concerts — it was the same with Shinhwa last year. Turbo made me want to dance and sing and jump around, plus they were very interactive with the crowed, which is always a big plus.

On Sunday I just got an overload of boy group feels. Astro is my current baby group, I absolutely love them, and getting to see their fun choreography and adorable aegyo in person had me shrieking like the fangirl I really am. And even though I love cute, I also love sexy and powerful, so Monsta X always gets me going with their hot and heavy choreography — and can we please have a round of applause for their stylist? Because my bias Shownu looked so good (unlike Zico, I swear to god that boy needs an intervention). And then there was Eric Nam, who I’m currently madly in love with. I’m really happy for him that he finally got to be on the big stage at KCON because I think he totally deserves it — and come on, we all know he’s an incredible singer.

Honorable mentions to Block B and BTS, no matter how many times I see them live they’re always high-energy and on-top of their choreography and rapping. And of course every girl group did well and was beautiful and adorable, but as my fellow writers know, I’m boy band trash forever.

Readers, what was your favorite part of the concerts if you went to KCON? If you couldn’t attend this year, does this review make you want to go next year?

(photos via CJ E&M)