KCON 2018 NY’S ‘M! Countdown’ day 2 concert recap

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What’s better than a night of M! Countdown performances from some of K-pop’s hottest names? Two nights, of course! And thanks to KCON 2018 NY presented by Toyota, such a bipartite event is made possible once more at the Prudential Center in New York’s metropolitan area. Fans attending the second and final day on June 24th were looking at up-and-coming acts like Golden Child, fromis_9, Wanna One, and NCT 127. Meanwhile, the seniors of EXID finalized the lineup with their seasoned career that is still going strong. With expectations on the rise from the day prior, Day 2 seemed like it had something to prove.

Bursting onto the scene headfirst was Golden Child, who delivered a charismatic dance intro as the foil to their peppy pop track, “It’s U.” The incursion of the song’s redundant lyrics still lives on even long after the group’s gung-ho performance, leading us to believe that producer Sweetune knows more than a simple thing or two when it comes to producing the perfect chorus. A bit unfortunate Golcha did not promote their other Sweetune-produced “Lady” off of the same EP as well, instead favoring its B-sides “All Day” and “Crush” in order to show a more varied stage.

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The real highlight came when KCON had the group defend their “Next Almighty Boy Band” title as part of a segment that rolled over from the previous day. Apparently, this meant channeling their inner Childish Gambino as the boys imitated his moves from his recent “This is America” music video. But the Hot 100 hits don’t stop there. Member Joochan also busted out into a rendition of Camila Cabello’s “Havana” while Jangjun demonstrated an aegyo version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” Although still rookies in the K-pop game, Golden Child receives full marks from us in the entertainment department.

Wanna One’s resident English speaker Daehwi then joined fellow member Minhyun to preface KCON’s customary special stages. Centered on the theme “darkness,” this year’s featured members from EXID (LE) and NCT 127 (Mark, Jaehyun, and Taeyong) on separate stages in an unofficial battle of the best rapper. Bad girl LE, draped in Chanel, a bath of red lights, and a matching paisley-printed two-piece, took to the mic first with her savage solo entitled “Velvet.” The boys of NCT 127, for their part, followed up with a Taeil-removed version of “Whiplash,” a titillating hip-hop number that especially spotlights rap line. Though they were both very different takes on the same concept, the two acts gave new meanings to the term “idol rapper.”


Usually KCON organizes the lineup order based on seniority. When it comes to their in-house groups, however, exceptions can be made. This was the case with fromis_9, who made their debut earlier this year through the Mnet reality show, Idol School. A much welcome gust of energy, color, and charms after a macabre special performance, they graced the stage with the only two-week old “DKDK.” The “vitalizing girls” further went on to honor the girl groups that paved the way for them by incorporating a random dance portion into their set, including iconic tunes from Wonder Girls (“Tell Me”), Red Velvet (“Red Flavor”), and Girls’ Generation (“Gee”) in the mix. Perhaps one day fromis_9 will join the likes of these seniors, but for the time being, their early beginnings dancing along to twinkling music in Mary Janes and knee-high stockings is enough for their fans. That’s the image they created for themselves, and the note they went out on as they wrapped up with “22nd Century Girl” and their debut title, “To Heart.”

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KCON 18 NY must have felt generous once again since concertgoers at Day Two enjoyed not one, but two female acts like the night prior. Descending from the sidelines, EXID made a grand entrance to a stage of roller skaters precariously mimicking the intro choreography. With moves straight from “Lady,” it made sense that the veterans of the evening would segue into the retro, ‘90s-inspired single. Once they struck their final poses for the cameras, the ladies that needed no introduction gave one anyways out of formality. During this interlude, member Hani praised LE for her “Velvet” stage, whilst Hyerin cued audience the upcoming song, “DDD,” before delving into “Night Rather Than Day.” And with one still left to go, it was obvious how they would go out on. Still, the group (rhetorically) asked everyone for what the last song they would like to hear, to which everyone unanimously responded “Up & Down.” Indeed, there really was no better way to do this than to have hundreds of attendees on their feet, hip-thrusting along to the brassy, career-breakthrough hit.

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On the topic of popular songs, fromis_9’s Jiwon and Golden Child’s Joochan united together in front of a backdrop of pink balloons for another and final special stage, a “love”-ly remake of the 2005 Humming Urban Stereo top ten hit, “Hawaiian Couple.” The duet remained faithful to the original version, preserving its lulling male and sweet female tag team vocals beloved by 2000s K-electropop. Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but in hindsight, the cover was definitely among one of the highest points of the night for us.

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Sadly, the love spell did not last long. Returning back to KCON after exactly a year since their stateside debut was NCT 127, who, based on the overwhelming ovation from the crowd dotted in neon green lightsticks, was one repeat act no one seemed to mind. The guys transported everyone to N-City when — similar to KCON 17 NY — a spry Taeyong opened with a dance routine starring brisk moves and seizure-inducing graphics from the screen behind. One tripled to three tripled to nine as the members filed in to finalize the troupe. Also very much alike to last year’s show was their setlist, which, save for their latest, “Touch,” had them going through “Firetruck” after “0 Mile” after “Limitless” after “Cherry Bomb.” Nonetheless, Yuta’s intense glares affected us all the same during “Cherry Bomb” and they still were the “biggest hits” that we remembered them as.

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Conflated by their dynamic stage presence, relative seniority, and extensive international fanbase, NCT 127 certainly could have passed for headliners. Too bad that role went to Wanna One, though. After all, this was supposed to be the New York stop on their summer U.S One: The World tour after organizers cheated the city of one. The project group, in their own right, at least made an effort to treat KCON as if it was their concert by squeezing in samplings of the world tour’s unit stages, which consisted of four songs produced by salient Korean artists Nell, Dynamic Duo, Heize, and Zico. At the confluence of hip-hop, contemporary R&B, and ballad rock, the genre-bending medley at once played up each of the member’s strengths and demonstrated their can-do mindsets. We mean, there’s a reason why the members ranked top 11 on the second season of the survival show, Produce 101.


But if the references to the identity properties of arithmetic within their album titles is not intimation enough, it’s that Wanna One prides itself in its unity and operates best as a single unit. Their teamwork spoke for itself when they successfully completed KCON’s special Q&A relay mission in under 101 seconds, and more so in their synchronized choreographies. Fans were privileged to witness the latter before their impending disbandment as they bowed out with “Light,” “Beautiful,” and the single that started it all for them, “Energetic.”

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This is how the second day of KCON 18 NY comes to its ultimate end. But just because it stops here for the East Coast does not mean it has to for you. KCON will continue in LA’s Staple Center on August 10th-12th, and if you are anything like us, we are already there.

Did you attend KCON 18 NY? What’s your favorite KCON artist? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.



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The annual flagship event for Hallyu fans and industry professionals alike, KCON 2018 NY presented by Toyota once again returned to the Prudential Center in New York’s metropolitan area this past weekend (June 23rd and 24th) to host another two days of M! Countdown performances. This year, the first night’s lineup featured entirely new faces, keeping it fresh with leading and promising acts such as Heize, Pentagon, Red Velvet, Stray Kids, and Super Junior. With a roster this high in brand value, this was a show that absolutely could not be missed.

It seems the same could also be said about the pre-show, which kicked off with a double-threat opening set from YouTuber and KCON mainstay, Jun Curry Ahn. Bow in tow, the classically-trained musician took to the stage with a shrill homage to Red Velvet’s “Bad Boy” on his violin only minutes before breaking into an original dance and song, “When I Call.” Singer-songwriter eSNa, who had her career breakthrough with Soyou and Junggigo’s “Some,” followed up strong as well with her powerhouse vocals on “Ahh Shit!,” a response song to her haters and a remake of her Mamamoo collaboration single, “Ahh Oop!” Audiences who were once unfamiliar with eSNa were soon acclimated with her gritty personality through her forward lyrics and jazzy spoken dialogues (“All my ladies out there, you’re beautiful just the way you are”). If Jun had his strings, then eSNa had her pipes. By the time the pre-show’s allotted half hour was up, the arena radiated a nervous energy that only a main event could diffuse.

Also on Kultscene: KCON 2017 NY’s ‘M! Countdown’ Day 2 Concert Recap

Up first was Super Junior, who challenged traditional conventions surrounding concert programming by making a premature appearance ahead of their closing performance. The group, sans member Choi Siwon who was hosting the event, teased concertgoers with an abbreviated version of their 2009 brainchild, “Sorry Sorry.” During the interim, awash of sapphire blue lights – the group’s official color – swept across the venue to simultaneously welcome and venerate the K-pop giants.

After Super Junior cleared the stage and the hoopla from their unexpected entrance had died down, rookie group Stray Kids, or rather their unofficial hip-hop rap subunit 3RACHA, emerged from among the audience to deliver their own introductions. As members Changbin and Han determinedly exchanged back and forth bars on “Matryoshka,” it was clear that the boys did not let performing after seniors intimidate them. Once the two regrouped with band leader Bang Chan and the six other members of Stray Kids, they hit the ground running with their debut single “District 9,” which turned 90 days old as the group later pointed out.

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Despite still being the new kids on the block, Stray Kids fortunately had no problem filling out their set with the B-side “Mirror,” which they already had promoted on music shows, and tracks from their pre-debut survival show of the same name, including “Hellevator” and the classic rock number “YaYaYa.” If anything, the random play dance segment midway through felt like it was out of obligation to KCON more than it was fun fluff. Not complaining, though. Where else would we be able to see their cover of EXO’s “Monster,” BTS’s “Fire,” Twice’s “What is Love,” and Got7’s “Hard Carry” all in one sitting, live??

Up next was everybody’s girl crush, Heize. Adorned in a silver sequined dress and matching tinsels that peeked through her hair and caught the spotlights, she shone brighter than anyone else that evening. Fans waved their light sticks and flashlight-enabled phones to and fro to the beat of her slow-tempo starters, “Didn’t Know Me” and “Star.” But after a live performance of her recent hit “Jenga” was traded with a VCR recording of one on the Brooklyn Bridge, her moment on stage was sadly also short-lived. Already time to part ways, the self-made singer-songwriter was at least able to flaunt some of her rapping chops on “Don’t Know You,” which received a positive response from the crowd.

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KCON always takes advantage of the many groups and artists in attendance for collaborative stages, and this year was no exception. With Super Junior and Red Velvet present, it made total sense that Yesung and Seulgi would perform their SM Station song “Darling U.” Dressed to the nines in suit and dress, the pair showed up looking as if they were going on their first date for the romantic single. They sounded equally as pleasant too; the sweet marriage of Yesung’s low-key, husky vocals with Seulgi’s sharp, pristine ones set the standard for male-female duets everywhere. The routine concluded when Yesung bashfully handed Seulgi the single rose he had been holding.

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Thanks to the viral success of their latest song “Shine,” one of the most-anticipated highlights of the night had to be Pentagon. They must have known this,as they commanded an entire legion of spectators to the hit’s trendy “shoot” dance and easy-to-follow choreography. Since members E’Dawn and Hui were known to be quite active in composing their own music – along with Yuto and Wooseok on raps – KCON then had the group defend their “next singer-songwriter” title by putting Wooseok on the spot for a freestyle rap. The theme, chosen by a random generator, was “lucky,” which exactly describes what fans were witnessing while he delivered his “We are, we are lucky” improv set to the beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Aside of their representative track, the boys rounded off their set with their debut song, “Gorilla,” along with the older picks from their discography, such as “Can You Feel It” and “Pretty Pretty.”

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Every year the paucity of girl groups at KCON becomes quite the issue among fans. They appear to be working on it, though, and this time around we had not only the usual one, but TWO female acts at the east coast event. Which meant that Red Velvet treated the American audience to a partially English version of “Bad Boy,” a rousing rendition of the summery “Red Flavor.” As for fanservice, KCON got that taken care of with a fitting “Russian Roulette”-inspired bit where each member fulfilled a special request: from Wendy’s rendition of Jay Z’s and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind” (it is state mandated that every K-pop idol who visits the NY metro area be required to cover the city’s unofficial anthem) to Joy and Yeri’s photo op with selected individuals, it was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to connect with their fans. And on Yeri’s cue and then at the audience’s suggestion, the group finally entered their penultimate “red” and ultimate “velvet” stages with “Rookie” and “Peekaboo” respectively. This is, how you say, the duality of woman?

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Just minutes away from Super Junior now, the excitement in the air had reached palpable heights. But first one last “Passion”-ate joint collaboration between Pentagon and Stray Kids separated the events that had transpired that evening from its impending climax.

Then, It happened. Decked out in getups to correspond with the single’s namesake, the legacy boy group materialized and eased into the swing-oriented “Black Suit” after a ballad intro. Even better than “Black Suit” live, however, is experiencing firsthand the band’s distinguished “uri-neun super juni-oyeo” (“we are Super Junior”) trademark greeting. Hearing those words uttered, everything felt all the more real. They felt all the more real.

Also on Kultscene: KCON 2017 LA’s ‘M! Countdown’ Day 1 Concert Recap

Just like SuJu’s dynamic stage presence, not much has changed even after all these years. Their humor especially remains intact, as could be seen when Yesung continued to mock his members and as Eunhyuk facetiously taught fans the point dances to some of their most popular singles with increasing complexity (“Bonamana” and “Rokkugo” though, oi). The latter all came together after a pelvic-gyrating performance of “Lo Siento” (with the lovely Miss Leslie Grace in the house!) when the group kicked it into overdrive with a whole SJ Funky medley. Consisting of ten straight minutes of their defining smash hits, including “Sorry Sorry,” “Mr. Simple,” and “Bonamana,” no one could have ever guessed that the foine men hyping up the audience had an average age of 32. Only true talent can make obnoxious autotune, redundant melodies, and looping synths sound this orgasmic. They let us go on a final teary note with their 2005 bubblegum track, “Miracle,” and you know what? They were right – life couldn’t get better.

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Whether you came out of the second generation era of K-pop or discovered the genre just the day prior, KCON 2018 NY’s Day 1 well-balanced lineup had something to offer for everyone. The first night was definitely one for the books, and with still a second one to go, it looked like competition was going to be stiff. But that’s another recap for a later time.

Did you attend KCON 18 NY? What’s your favorite KCON artist? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

KCON 2017 NY’s ‘M! Countdown’ Day 1 Concert Recap

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Almost exactly one year since it last hit the Prudential Center in New Yorks’s metropolitan area, KCON 2017 NY presented by Toyota returned once again this past weekend (June 23 and 24) for another two nights of star-studded M! Countdown performances. The Day 1 concert had rookie groups KNK and SF9 dancing on the same stage as the veteran “super rookie” group Highlight. Meanwhile hip-hop and R&B soloist Zion T. and girl group GFriend added diversity to the forever testosterone and pop-heavy lineup.

For some of the artists, it was their first time performing stateside altogether. But for all, their participation marked their debut onto the annual cross-cultural East Coast music festival scene that continues to bring the most devoted Hallyu fans out in droves. Not soon after concert goers filed in to occupy the arena seating and pit to catch the preshow – a fan dance battle moderated by special guest and former U-Kiss member Kevin Woo – had it been already time for the main event of the night. At promptly 7:30 PM, the show kicked off with its trademark “Let’s KCON” motto.

Also on Kultscene: KCON 2017 Mexico’s M! Countdown Day 1 Concert Recap

Ascending in front of a very fitting backdrop of nebulae and celestial bodies, the vertically superior KNK opened with their most recent single “Sun, Moon, Star,” a song which they later explained was about broken up lovers. The quintet delivered the anguish that such a song demands, and decked out in resplendent white suits, they looked and sounded like they were not only a year into their careers. This only became apparent once they moved on from their debut song “Knock” straight into their already final track “Day N Night,” reminding audiences that their discography still has room to grow. The latter is a personal favorite, and since it was never promoted as a single, was a pleasant surprise to their terse setlist. I think lead rapper Heejun was doing all of us a public good when he put up his own mic to lead vocalist Youjin when he hit that high note during the bridge.

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It really would not be a KCON without its collaborative stages, and this year seemed to have been Broadway musical-themed (a tip of the hat to good ol’ New York City) as Yuju of GFriend and Dongwoon of Highlight united in a rendition of Beauty and the Beast’s “Tale As Old As Time.” It was definitely an oicwydt moment seeing the gorgeous GFriend member work in perfect harmony with the former “Beast” member. The no-frills duet relied solely on their immaculate vocals, all the while keeping the number subdued without sounding boring.

Up next was SF9, a boy group who I admittedly made the mistake of overlooking going into the concert. From the moment they set the venue aflame with their latest song “Easy Love,” the amount of proud fans clothed in unofficial merchandise and holding up support banners for the group who have not even seen their one year anniversary yet just made sense. The first real “dance” group coming out of FNC Entertainment, an agency typically known for their favoritism towards bands in the truest sense of the word, they did not disappoint. How they are able to execute their razor-sharp choreography without sound breathy is still beyond me, and after seeing the nine-piece group perform in the flesh, I can affirm that the aphorism about how one does not learn to appreciate a song until it is done live was about SF9.

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Not only that, the SF9 boys also proved that they are kings of fanservice when three members serenaded and competed for a girl indiscriminately chosen from the general audience. Poor girl seemed torn between her suitors, so the proposal ended in a draw. Despite this, the group managed to reel back into full performance mode, completing their set with their debut single “Fanfare,” followed by “Roar.”

The girl group representatives of the night, GFriend (sans Yerin who had individual schedules overseas), made their entrance with a powerful dance break in their signature uniformed-inspired look, compensating for KCON’s serious dearth of female acts. They continued the trend of opening with the most recent single and plunged right into disco and synth blend hit “Fingertip.” An exciting song to match the equally high-spirited mood.

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Unfortunately, as the proceeding “Navillera” transitioned into “Me Gustas Tu” into “Rough,” the rest of their set felt a little like one mega ditty playing up the naiveté of youth rather than three separate and unique songs. Not hating the high school concept trilogy, it’s just that a better setlist that showcased greater variety or another song inter-spliced between the ones could have avoided this misfortune. That aside, audiences still received kindly to the more than stable vocals, synchronized dances, and charms of these girl crushes.

It’s always interesting to see how a solo artist can manage to keep the momentum of crowds going, and with no group dynamic to fall back on, the pressure is certainly on. But Zion.T, draped in what looks like could be his dad’s baggy suit and traipsing his way towards a grand piano, exuded pure professionalism and cool, calm collectedness not witnessed in other acts seen thus far. There, he introduced “Complex,” before moving onto “The Song” off of the same OO album. He already impresses with his distinct voice and frictionless croons, but when he brings out his inner rapper as well, he’s just being unfair.

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The man also displayed a subtle sense of humor when he inquired if audiences knew his penultimate song for the night, “Eat” (“you know, like yum, yum, yum eat?”). Unsurprisingly, he closed with the iconic “Yanghwa Bridge,” a sluggish track that is perfect for not only evening commutes home, but also for bringing together a group of disparate peoples in chorus. Not a single person in attendance was not singing either “haengbokhaja” (“Let’s be happy”) or “apeuji malgo” (“Don’t be sick”) of the lyrics’ sweet words to his family. Zion.T’s strength lies in the fact that his slow-tempo songs always have those couple of phrases that are easy to follow along, guaranteeing audience participation. He knows this too as he played conductor, and took advantage of the whole extended stage. Only Zion.T could ever do what Zion.T does best.

The show could have concluded right then, and everyone would have been okay with it, however it did not. SF9 reappeared onto the stage for an unexpected special performance of EXO’s “Call Me Baby” and BTS’s “Boy in Luv,” which was probably KCON’s way of saying “Hey, I know we could not give you guys the two hottest K-pop groups at the moment, but here’s a cover.” In any event, audiences welcomed the familiar tunes and dances in vociferous cheers.

Also on Kultscene: KCON 2016 NY’s M! Countdown Day 1 Concert Recap

Rounding off the first night was finally Highlight, who hit the ground running with “Plz Don’t Be Sad.” Outfitted in white long coats with personalized names on the back (Dongwoo’s appropriately had “Guapo” monogrammed), they had as much fun with the performance as audiences did dancing along to the ridiculously fun hook. It was not even their last song, but streamers already rained down as if it was. Though “Calling You,” the group’s most recent release, was another obvious pick, it felt lowkey and paled in comparison to the former song. I would rather they have traded it out for “Can You Feel It?,” the eponymous track off of their first album post-rebranding, which would have offered tighter cohesion considering the other dance songs of the headliner’s setlist. That, and I just would have really like to see “Can You Feel It?” live once, you know?

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After exhausting their narrow discography as Highlight, the second generational group moved older fans with “Yey,” one of their more underrated bops that had the crowd on their feet even if they did not agree in the fine workmanship that went into producing the EDM track. They dug back further in their bag of tricks to also unveil the 2014 hit “Good Luck” and 2012 summer anthem “Beautiful Night,” which best describes what the evening was after their stellar performances. They had nothing but their fans in mind as they switched between their parts and tossing out plushies and taking selfies with the phones of some lucky individuals. A personal aside, but it brings me immense joy to know that a group that was once upon a time my first bias group still got it. Beast or Highlight, this is a band that simply knows what it takes to put on a show.

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And like that, the night had finished without a hitch. Though Day One of the two-part event was now officially over, there was still a Day Two to go to. While fans were entertained by the mirthful pop songs, intricate choreography, and earnest attempts at communication of the artists, they were already looking forward to what was in store for the upcoming day. After all, what better way to fill the void left behind by post-concert depression than with another concert?

Did you attend KCON 17 NY? What’s your favorite KCON artist? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

KCON 2016 NY’s M! Countdown Day 1 Concert Recap

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Courtesy of CJ E&M

It hasn’t even been a year yet but it’s already that time when all things Hallyu are celebrated in one convenient location here in the States. After its first installment last August, KCON returned back again to the East Coast, bringing its M! Countdown concerts to the famous Prudential Center in the NY’s metropolitan area. This time, not only did the convention grow from being a one day event to a two day event, spanning from June 24 to June 25, but KCON 2016 also saw a lot of new faces and talents. KCON 2015 NY felt like a pilot episode in comparison.

On Day 1 of KCON 2016 NY alone, popular rookie group Seventeen met senior boy group BTOB at both their first KCON experience. Soloist Ailee drew both female and male Korean pop fans in throngs, while Amoeba Culture’s Crush and Dynamic Duo made their second KCON appearance and welcomed Korean hip-hop philes to the 18,000+ seat venue. The roster this year was a significant upgrade from last year, which haphazardly seemed to throw together a bunch of repeated acts from previous cons. What’s more, the lineup for KCON 2016 offered more diversity, reflecting the careful planning that went into maximizing concert turnout (as of now, the attendance is still TBA).

But the music is just one aspect of Hallyu, with K-Drama as another. A new addition to KCON 2016 NY was the special guests, which included idol actor Yim Siwan (“Triangle,” “Misaeng”) and actress Park Bo Young (“A Werewolf Boy,” “Oh My Ghostess”). Together, the two stopped by the South Korean entertainment network tvN booth during the convention and acted as special MC’s for a segment of the night, giving the regular hosts a break.

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As per usual, the MC’s were selected from the pool of performers. Ailee, a native English speaker slated to perform during the first night, was an obvious pick. As the she ascended from the stage lift, however, the fans cheered doubly for not only her but also for co-host, Rap Monster from BTS, who made an early appearance ahead of his scheduled Day 2 performance (in hindsight, the two also served as MC’s for KCON Abu Dhabi back in March so perhaps it was my bad for not seeing it coming). While introducing the event in both Korean and English, the bilingual duo quickly became half the attraction with their charming chemistry. And with their rallying cry “Let’s KCON! Let’s M! Countdown,” the other half was shortly set in motion as well

Rookie King Seventeen Makes Their KCON Debut

Emerging out of 2015 as one of the hottest rookie groups, Seventeen didn’t fail to deliver a remarkable performance. Under the dim lights, a VCR of the members dancing to the intro song “Shining Diamond” segued into the real deal. A chorus of screams at the appearance of 12 (rapper Wonwoo is sitting out of promotional activities at the moment due to health problems) half clothed in black, the other in white, indicated that the show was finally underway. They wasted no time as they dove right into their latest hit “Pretty U,” blithely working a couch into their choreography in front of a color pop of city streets backdrop. They really set the standard for the following track, the EDM-trap mix “Chuck,” which varied stylistically from the musical-esque number from before, but still sustained the same austerity of in-sync choreography.

Also on Kultscene: KCON 2015 NY’s M! Countdown Concert Recap

To finish off their half-hour set, the boys threw it back to the classics that shot them to where they are now (though would it be much of a throwback if it was only to last year?). Starting with “Mansae,” the audience transformed into a sea of arms swaying to the beat of the “mansae,” the point choreo that the members took time out to teach beforehand. It’s always a welcome sight to see the union of fans and artist, even if it’s just in such a simple gesture as waving an arm. Even in “Adore U,” which marked the end of their set, there’s that familiar point dance – a literal point dance – during the hook that’s easy enough for even the average caveman to follow. When they are on stage, Seventeen just exuberates overflowing youth and spryness. The only drawback to this, however, is because they are still maturing as a group, they are still stuck playing by the books, which means they couldn’t make full use of the stage that was given to them. A forgiving qualm, though, for the group with the insane vocals and an entertaining live show to boot.

Crush Gives New Meaning to One Man Show

Being a soloist on a stage of such a grand scale is always going to be nerve wracking. Projection becomes all the more important, and hyping the audience up requires extra effort. Fortunately for Crush, he’s got that covered, and all in just a-less-than-usual three songs too. No introductions were needed here for the R&B singer who went straight into his 2014 slow jam “Sometimes” as soon as the music cued him to the stage. From start to finish, he single-handedly turned the M! Countdown concert into a lounge party, belting out a string of long notes and ad libs to a round of cheers in the process. Besides his interesting Canadian Tuxedo x French beret collaboration that he donned – which must be a fashion faux pas in at least ten different cultures – the guy really did no wrong.

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Courtesy of CJ E&M

“Sometimes” was only warm-up for what’s to come. The palm leaves that decorated the LCD displays behind him were very appropriate for the summer vibe-y single “Oasis.” Crush even revealed his knack for rap when covering for an absent Zico in his “It G-Ma”-styled verse, during which he doused crowds with bottled water while jumping around on the extended stage. By this time, the crowd was already so amped up that his request for the audience to put their hands up seemed superfluous. This revelry continued well into “Hug Me,” which featured help this time from Dynamic Duo’s Gaeko, and even more of a water show. Things were only now just getting heated.

Queen Ailee Makes Her Return Home

Ailee’s just one of those artists where even if you are not a fan, you are a fan. Her vocal prowess cannot be denied, and she was able to demonstrate it once again during an incident that happened while she was performing her routine to “Mind Your Own Business.” About halfway through the song, a technical malfunction caused the backing track to stop, leaving a visibly rattled Ailee to finish her verse acapella. Audiences applauded her diplomacy, even when she stepped backstage to resolve the issue (one concert go-er in my section made the snide remark that someone was getting fired that night) and when she came back for her second take.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

“This has never happened to me before,” the New Jersey native says before making light of the situation and viewing the glitch as a welcome home gift. One thing remains certain, and it’s that we can at least count on Ailee to provide fans with honest stages, which is something that cannot be said about all idols in the K-pop industry.

After going through both break-up power anthems “Don’t Touch Me” and “I Will Show You,” the diva also disclosed how nervous she was to perform that night (“I’ve never been nervous before, not even my debut performance, not even my first solo concert”) in front of all her friends and family for the first time, all the while holding back tears. The sincerity of her words compounded by the overall pathos of her homecoming were probably what compelled audiences to stand for her closing song “U & I.” Fans could not even be pressed that she did not perform “Q&A” with Seventeen like some thought she would. Cute as it may have been, this was all about her.

BTOB Did That!

Ever since their first music show win with “It’s Okay,” BTOB has swapped out their charismatic boy band image for something more softcore, which has still been working out in their favor. Presented by an enchanted forest visual display and a LCD light show that signaled the coming in of the members clad in rose quartz suits, they opened with the ballad “Remember That,” riding on the same success the aforementioned “It’s Okay” amassed for them. Rappers Minhyuk and Ilhoon still served with their subdued raps, while the vocalists never once faltered in their department.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

The group also filled their slots with their lesser known singles, such as “All Wolves Except Me” and “Beep Beep,” the former a jazzy swing track bursting with all kinds of brassy sounds and the latter a similar funky saxophone-centric piece that seem more in line with their personalities. The youngest member Sungjae even worked in some aegyo (a cute display of affection), sneaking a quick “bbyu” before the lights lowered, causing fans to giggle.

Personally, the main highlight of their stage wasn’t even their live performances off of their own discography, but their impromptu rendition of One Direction’s “History.” As if he was not already savvy in the art of rap, main rapper Ilhoon wowed the audience with his overwhelming high notes. Sometimes it is actually stressful how underrated this group is, but hopefully KCON bringing them out for the first time will lead to future invites and more recognition.

If You Didn’t Stan Seventeen Already…

…Then you probably did after seeing their special stage. Part of the appeal of KCON’s “M! Countdown” concerts are their exclusive performances in which the acts cover the hits of others or collaborate together to produce something greater than the sum of their parts. This year, in a phenomenal medley Seventeen returned back to the stage with a cover of After School’s “Bang,” the bop that made being in a marching band cool again. They even looked the part in their ornamental navy military jackets topped with epaulettes, cheering “S-V-T” with Pledis pride. This transitioned smoothly into a modern, more synth-y (if that’s even possible) version of Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry.” It may not be the first time the group has shown us their spin on the iconic dance (check out their “Weekly Idol” appearances), but it’s exciting nevertheless seeing it done on American soil. To wrap it all up, Seventeen paid homage to the reigning kings of K-pop TXVQ with their bubbly render of the 2006 song “Balloons,” which is, like, oh my god, the last time they did this was when they were still trainees shooting for their mini series “Seventeen TV.” Not tied down by any choreography, the twelve were finally able to make full use of the extended stage, merrily greeting their U.S. fans for the first time.

Also on Kultscene: Tips on How to Maximize Your KCON 2016 Experience

Dynamic Duo Brings the Club Over to KCON

Debuting in 2003, Dynamic Duo made the most sense as headliners. But more than just seniority, they also possess the attitudes and the finesse of a headliner. Before they even stepped foot on stage, their digital selves were already initiating a call and response tactic, asking “Who Are We?” followed by concert attendees hollering out their names. When they did make their noble entrance, they came in full-force from the get-go with “BAAAM,” employing more call and response approaches. Jiving freely to the upbeat tempo that the DJ on stage was mixing, they had genuine fun on stage and the audiences reciprocated that.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

By the time they were performing the EDM infused hip-hop jam “Shoot – Goal In” the crowd were already on their feet, dancing in place. Again, who knows how many folks actually knew the song, never mind the lyrics, but the manner in which members Choiza and Gaeko were able to hype each other up (e.g. – rapping to each other as opposed to with each other, echoing each other’s words, etc.) was entertaining to watch and exhibited real artistry.

The rest were an honest blur. The duo picked up enough momentum and was not about to break it as they went straight into Gaeko’s own percussion based “Rhythm is Life.” When the time came to conclude the night already, they were bouncing around to their dance party anthem “Friday Night,” which could it be any more fitting? In the midst of the smoke and light sticks, the place was a full fledge rave, and everyone was high.

And with the customary shower of confetti, Day 1 of KCON 16 NY was over. A vast improvement from last year’s KCON NY, it really set the bar high for future ones. One day of KCON NY fun still remains, however, who knows what will happen then?

Did you attend KCON 16 NY? What’s your favorite KCON artist? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.