By: Hannah Waitt
This weekend marked KCON’s East Coast debut, and now a 3-day event with a 10-group deep lineup in Los Angeles, expectations were high for New York’s inaugural convention. A more accurate name for the event would have been KCON New Jersey, but despite the venue’s location on the outskirts of the big apple, the turn out for the event was decent, especially considering that only four groups would be performing.
The first group to take the stage, and interestingly enough, the only group of the four to have previously held a solo concert in New York City, was VIXX. Clad in bright red suits, the group primed the audience with one-by-one solo dances beneath a spotlight before sending everyone into full fan frenzy mode by opening their set with their hit song, “Error”. Always consistent with his strong vocals, Leo once again impressed with his ability to nail all of his climactic high notes, and even treated the audience to a short acapella duet cover of Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon” along with Ken. The group’s professionalism and ability to sing live was apparent as they cruised through their set, closing it out with their feel-good single, “Love Equation”.
VIXX was followed by AOA, who received an especially enthusiastic welcome from the male fans in the audience. The group kicked off their set with their latest single “Heart Attack” before transitioning directly into “Like A Cat” as the crowd chanted “I’m good, I’m hot, I’m fresh, I’m fly” along with the group. Like VIXX, AOA’s microphones were live the entire time, with lead vocalists Choa, Yuna, and Hyejeong carrying the team through the songs. Choa and Jimin notably received the loudest cheers from the audience, Choa for her vocal prowess and Jimin for her attitude and unique vocal color.
AOA’s major accomplishment of the night was conveying their potential as a group. When the group debuted under FNC Entertainment back in 2012 they were branded as the female version of label mates CNBLUE, but have since pivoted to take on their own sound and image. AOA was the only group this year to perform at both KCON LA and KCON NY, returning to Seoul in between to keep up with the overloaded schedule that always seems to signal a group on the brink of mainstream success. Despite their exhausting comings and goings the group put on a superb performance both weekends, confirming their strong overseas presence and solidifying their rising alpha group status in the K-pop ecosystem.
Teen Top kicked off their set with a stair step serenade of their mellow pop ballad “5 Seasons” before breaking out the fancy footwork that accompanies their newest single, “Ah-Ah”. The group maintained a chic demeanor despite the fast-paced, high energy dancing that characterizes their choreography, and was able to do so mainly thanks to their stable live vocals. Teen Top is famous for their shuffle step dancing, so to be able to put on a solid live performance despite their hyperactive movement on stage was no small feat.
The highlight of the group’s appearance came at the end of their set when they performed their breakout hit “Rocking”. The song got more of the audience up and out of their seats to dance than any other song of the night, as fans screamed “Teen Top we gon’ rock it drop it top it hey don’t stop it pop it” along with the group and strobe lights and lasers illuminated the stadium, ending their set with the biggest of bangs.
When Teen Top left the stage, the audience was surprised by the reappearance of AOA members Hyejeong, Choa, and Yuna as they took the stage to perform a ballad rendition of Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s iconic anthem to New York, “Empire State of Mind”. The trio’s three-part harmonies were well matched during the climax of the song, Choa doing her best to belt out the melody made famous by Keys. Teen Top members Chunji and Niel then took the stage to perform a cover of Extreme’s “New York City”, and though the duo’s English was nearly impossible to understand, their glossy vocals made up for the confused lyricism. After the two odes to New York, the lights went down and anticipation for the night’s headlining act reached an all time high.
If you check social media for tweets, posts, or pictures of Girls’ Generation from KCON New York, you’ll see the group referred to as “queens” over and over, and on Saturday night, the group defended their right to the K-pop throne. SNSD opened with “Catch Me If You Can”, and though they passed on live vocals for the first song, they nevertheless thrilled the crowd with their performance of the choreography’s challenging calisthenics to the dub step infused dance track.
Taeyeon and Hyoyeon received the loudest cheers of anyone as they performed their respective singing and dancing solos, while Tiffany, the only native English speaker in the group, was at the helm the Soshi ship for the night, speaking for the group between songs and calling out for the crowd to sing along with the authority and the perk of an early morning aerobics instructor.
Much like their label mates Super Junior did in Los Angeles, Girls’ Generation worked the stage with both the expertise of practiced veterans and the fierceness that fueled their success. The group sailed smoothly through the rest of their live performance with skill, performing both old hits and new, but the best part of their set came after the group performed their most recent B-side track, “Check”.
After they struck their finishing pose and the lights went down, Girls’ Generation filed into a single line in the middle of the stage, eliciting an earth shattering roar from the crowd, who immediately knew that the group was about to perform their iconic mega-hit, “Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)”. In that moment in which the group stood waiting to perform, the crowd’s anticipation and elation was so palpable and electric that it without question validated KCON’s choice in having the group headline the inaugural New York event, once again solidifying Girls’ Generation as the reigning “queens” of K-pop.
KCON New York has a long way to go in terms of growth and participation, but as fans poured out of the Prudential Center on Saturday night, one thing was apparent: most of them will be back for KCON New York next year.
For more pictures from KCON 2015 in New York, be sure to like moonROK’s official facebook page!
Tags: AOA Choa Chunji Girls' Generation Hyejeong Hyoyeon Jimin KCON 2015 Ken Leo Niel Taeyeon Teen Top Tiffany VIXX Yuna