KCON 2018 LA ‘M! Countdown’ day 2 recap

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Following a mega-successful first concert on Saturday, KCON was back at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 12 for the second and final show. KCON makes a point of always bringing the biggest names in K-pop, and KCON 2018 LA was no exception. While Twice and Wanna One were arguably the biggest acts for Night One, Night Two belonged to Seventeen, Pentagon, and Chung Ha.

Kicking off the show, rock girl group Dreamcatcher took the stage. They performed their newest single “You & I” from their mini album Escape the Era. Throughout their performance, Dreamcatcher constantly showed a unique hybrid form of K-pop and rock music. With such a distinct sound, Dreamcatcher was the one to watch for many concertgoers. They seemed to satisfy the crowd, amassing screams for their whole set. To close it out, the septet performed their 2017 single “Good Night.”

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After Dreamcatcher had everyone doing their best air guitar moves, it was IMFACT’s turn. As KCON was their debut stateside performance, they went all out showing every side of themselves to their fans. They started off their performance with the debut of their newest single, “NaNaNa,” which hadn’t even been released at that time. It was a great way to introduce themselves to the crowd as the track has a very chill chorus and a tropical feel. Next, IMFACT performed their biggest hit so far, the high-energy synth-pop song “The Light,” which was released in April 2018. The crowd danced along and everyone seemed to like their performance. If IMFACT comes back to the U.S. soon, they will definitely have some new fans in the crowd that were introduced to them through KCON.

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Another one of the night’s most popular performers was Pentagon, a group that had grown substantially in popularity throughout the past six months with their hit song “Shine.” Due to some unfortunate circumstances, the group was missing two members during their trip to the U.S. but fortunately, fans still gave Pentagon a lot of support both before and during their time here. They employed the help of fellow performer and violinist Jun to begin their performance with a short intro to “Shine.” The extremely popular song was exciting to see live; many people in the massive crowd were singing along and doing the addictive choreography. It was clear that Pentagon had gained their popularity for good reason. Their performance was positive and energetic, but still allowed them to connect with their fans and create an intimate experience.

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One vulnerable moment was when the boys spread out to each end of the stage to perform their gentle ballad, “Beautiful.” Although a lot of Universe (Pentagon’s fanbase) brought their lightsticks, even the people that didn’t have official Pentagon lightsticks used their phones or other groups’ lights to sway along to the music. Following the intimate feel of “Beautiful,” Pentagon brought us back to their tough concept with “Runaway.” The song describes an intense, rough relationship, which is unfortunately what Pentagon’s fans are going through with the group and their company these days. Thankfully, if you did not know about the drama surrounding Pentagon at this moment, you would not be clued into it just by watching their performance. It was clear at KCON 2018 LA that nothing can take away their passion and charisma on stage.

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After lending his violin talent to Pentagon’s intro, Jun was back to show the audience his performance of his single “Hold It Down.” While his most popular content is on his Youtube channel, Jun showed that he is a great performer in real life too. The upbeat track was perfect to perform at such an energetic event; he utilized many backup dancers and really showed the song’s colorful vibe well. His set was only the one song, which was disappointing but was a great teaser for what’s to come from Jun.

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Finally, back in the States as a solo artist, Chung Ha was one of the most highly anticipated artists. She hadn’t performed here since KCON 2016 LA with the Produce 101-formed IOI, so everyone was really looking forward to her appearance. Being one of Korea’s biggest female solo artists, it was no surprise that many guests at KCON were there to see her. Having an amazing year with two super popular comebacks, she was an artist that everyone was looking forward to. Chung Ha opened her set with her newest title track “Love U,” which had only come out about two weeks before and still had everyone singing along. Although she didn’t perform her debut song “Why Don’t You Know,” she still kept everyone’s attention by performing her January hit “Roller Coaster.” A vibrant, fun song with an easy melody, it was a great way to close her set.


Keeping the girl power vibe going, KCON welcomed rookie group Fromis_9 to the stage to show their spirit. Flipping from the sexy, mature vibe that Chung Ha is a master of, the younger group displayed their cute concept with their songs “DKDK” and “Glass Shoes.” Unlike most groups formed on reality shows, Fromis_9 is a permanent group, and it is obvious that they have improved a lot since Idol School aired. They showed immediate charm and were super sweet. For girls that started their career not too long ago, it was surely surreal for them to be on the same stage as so many powerhouse seniors, although by now they have performed at many events and are definitely earning their stripes. Hopefully, Fromis_9 will visit the states again soon with more fresh, bubbly music to share!

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Next up was Roy Kim, who is known for his laid-back music, and KCON is a place that doesn’t normally emphasize a chill atmosphere. Typically every performer is trying to get the crowd hyped up and dancing like crazy, but Roy Kim is an exception to that. It was refreshing to have a moment in the lineup where there was no choreography to dance along to, just a guy and his guitar and his soothing melodies. Roy started his set with his ballad “Only Then,” which was released in February. He then continued with a cover of Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter,” which he frequently performs when he has a chance to. It’s a cover well-liked by his fans around the world due to the way he nails the emotion in the song. He concluded his part of the night by performing his biggest hit to date, “Bom Bom Bom.” The sweet, summery feel of the song, with its title that translates to “Spring Spring Spring,” was a great way to finish his set.

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No KCON is complete without a few special surprises, and there were some great ones in store for the final night of KCON LA. Seventeen are now veterans of attending KCON, as this was their fourth appearance at a KCON event. They know how it works, and they especially know how to get the crowd fired up. They did just that with their special unit stage performances when each of the three units from the group performed one of their songs, most of which rarely, if ever, get performed outside of concerts. The vocal unit performed “Don’t Listen in Secret” off of their 2016 full album Going Seventeen. The powerful ballad was completely different from the hip-hop and Performance unit choices, but it fit in perfectly. Speaking of hip-hop unit, they were on stage next to perform their unreleased song “SUKYO,” which had previously only been performed at their Ideal Cut concert series in Korea. The explosive rap track was a stark contrast to the delicate and sweet song choice of vocal unit. Continuing the sexy, upbeat vibe, the performance unit was the last of Seventeen’s three units to grace the stage, and their choice of special song was 2017’s “Lilili Yabbay,” also known as “The 13th Month’s Dance.”

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If you thought special stages were just for the boys, fortunately, you’re wrong! The female acts of the night were back on stage and ready to show a different side of themselves for the special stage titled “Midnight Fantasy Garden.” Dreamcatcher performed a full group dance cover of “Havana” by Camila Cabello, which they had previously posted on YouTube with only two members participating (Sua and Dami). After “Havana,” Fromis_9 appeared at the opposite end of the stage to cover Missy Elliott’s “WTF.” It was a big departure from Fromis_9’s sweet, girly vibe and was really exciting to witness. They killed the choreography and showed some major versatility, if only for a few minutes. Chung Ha then took to the middle of the stage to perform some sultry choreography with a backup dancer to Ariana Grande’s newest single “God is a Woman.” Chung Ha also shows a lot of versatility, and it is obvious that she truly deserves all of the hype and attention she gets for her dance ability. She works hard and it shows.

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Nu’Est have had quite the interesting year, and it was subunit Nu’Est W up next. After four of their five members participated in Produce 101 season 2, and Minhyun was chosen to be in Wanna One, Nu’Est grew substantially in popularity. So Pledis and Nu’Est decided to form a subunit (Nu’Est W) so they could utilize that popularity while Minhyun is participating in Wanna One promotions. This subunit has done extremely well, and it has been exciting to see them flourish after many years of being in a nugu-like state in Korea. I goes without saying that for their first trip to the US as a subunit, Nu’Eest W was a highly anticipated performer. They began their set with the sensual “Deja Vu,” which was released in June of this year. Nu’Est W maintained the sultry feeling with the more amped-up “Where You At,” their debut single as a subunit. They also performed “Polaris” from Nu’Est W’s mini album Who, You as well as “Look” from Nu’Est’s 2016 album Canvas.

Although Seventeen had technically already performed once during Night 2, their special stage was nothing compared to their full set. Kicking off the full Seventeen experience, the thirteen-member group performed their title track from August’s You Make My Day mini album, “Oh My!” With video-game inspired choreography and cuter feel than their other recent titles, “Oh My!” is a fun escape. The boys then performed the b-side “Our Dawn Is Hotter Than Day” from the same mini album, which also has a fun, pleasant feel. Switching it up to their rookie days, Seventeen surprised the audience by performing their 2015 hit “Mansae.” The energetic track was a great pick to play because every K-pop fan knows the melody and probably a bit of the choreography too!

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Fortunately, Seventeen’s discography thus far is full of hits, so their next song was a great choice too. They ended their set (too soon) with the 2016 hit “Aju Nice (Very Nice)” from the repackage edition of their Love & Letter EP. An equally exciting and honestly irresistible song to dance to, “Aju Nice” made everyone get on their feet for one last dance party before the end of KCON 2018 LA. It was a bittersweet way to end the intense, amazing experience that is KCON. Every year KCON keeps getting bigger and this year’s events have continued to follow that trend. Who knows what will happen at next year’s KCON!

Did you attend KCON 2018 LA? Let us know your experience and thoughts on the concert in the comment section below. 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 2015 LA’s M! Countdown Concerts Recap

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Courtesy of CJ E&M America

Following what is now a four year tradition, KCON 2015 in Los Angeles, CA, was bigger and better than its previous installments. Not only did the convention grow into a three day event, spanning from July 31 through August 2, but the acts for the M! Countdown concerts included some of hottest and most loved names in K-pop. Moreover, this year, the concert portion took place in LA‘s famous Staples Center, one of the largest and most prestigious concert venues in the area, proving that the Hallyu wave is only getting stronger on this side of the globe. With a venue that large, there was a lot of pressure on the event to keep everyone happy and safe – which was pulled off well. There were more fire safety signs and instructions than ever before, proving that the venue could provide both safety and fun when it comes to concerts.

Last year, after bringing K-pop giants Girls’ Generation and G-Dragon as headliners, KCON promised to make 2015 even grander. With these two Hallyu faves, it seemed there was no way to go from there but sideways to other equally popular artists. And yet, KCON found a way to outdo themselves by bringing Super Junior and the, mind the redundancy, legendary Shinhwa as the top acts for each concert night. Similarly, the organizers continued 2014’s trend of bringing Korean artists in other genres to offer more diversity with the inclusion of Roy Kim and Zion. T and Crush to their lineup.

Moreover, a nice addition this year was that KCON finally figured out how to bring the fanboys to the yard. Sure, Girls’ Generation brought their loyal male Sones (their fanclub name) last year, but the presence of men has never truly stood out until this year. And how could they not be lured in with sexy girl group darlings Sistar and AOA performing?

Also on KultScene: The Best Songs At KCON LA 2015

KCON 2015 saw a lot of changes from its previous installments, and the M! Countdown shows were among the most impacted. In past years, groups and soloists focused on performing their greatest hits and their most recent release. Also, set times were distributed according to seniority and all artists performed the same number of songs. This year, however, it all went out the window to give way to a system that made more sense.

On the first night of the concert, a sapphire blue ocean illuminated the Staples Center, proving that a big chunk of attendees were there for Super Junior. So of course it made sense that the audience was treated to a 40-minute long mini Super Show (the group’s concerts). Because not only did they perform their hits like “Mr. Simple,” “Sorry, Sorry,” and their latest “Devil,” but every ELF (their fanclub name) rejoiced when they performed a medley of songs which rarely make it onto concerts that aren’t the Super Shows, such as “Oppa, Oppa,” “Rockstar,” and “Shake It Up.” Needless to say, and as leader Leeteuk later confirmed, this is as close as L.A. will get to a solo concert anytime soon.

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Similarly, since they headlined the second night of the concert, Shinhwa also had a longer set than the rest of the artists, but not as much as Super Junior. But despite this, the veteran male group showed they still have the chops and popularity to come on events as big as KCON and slay. And with a career going back more than a decade, the group opted to perform old (“T.O.P”), oldish (“Hey, Come On!”), and newer songs (“Sniper”) for their American fans.

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One of KCON’s most awesome features overall is that they not only bring K-pop’s most popular acts to the U.S., but they also include rookie groups who, if not for M! Countdown, would have to wait years before performing in front of their fans in a showcase or solo concert or even never get the chance. Debuting only a couple of months ago, Monsta X were all smiles and excitement throughout their set, which included their debut single “Trespass” and other songs from their mini album. Red Velvet, for their part, marked their first year anniversary since debut on the KCON stage and showcased their sweet side with “Happiness” and “Ice Cream Cake,” along with their R&B flair with a “Stickwitu” cover.

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Every year, KCON has that one emerging boy group whose fandom takes over the convention. This year, ladies and gentlemen, the new EXO and BTS was none other than GOT7. Fan girls shrieked and starred in awe as the boys performed “Just Right,” “A,” and even the JJ Project reclaimed song “Bounce,” which got everyone in the audience, well, bouncing on Saturday night. Sadly, Jackson wasn’t present and his absence was very noticeable, but the rest of the members delivered a great stage.

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As for Sunday, the group that got everyone dancing and throwing their hands in the air was Block B. Right from Zico’s opening solo performance of “Tough Cookie,” to their subunit BASTARZ’s “Zero in Conduct,” to gems like “Very Good” and “Nalina,” Block B proved themselves to be well-rounded entertainers and not just idols.

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Furthermore, as mentioned before, the two groups who got a sizeable amount of male attendees hot and bothered were Sistar on Saturday and AOA on Sunday. AOA performed decked out in their sporty outfits to their hits like “Heart Attack,” “Mini Skirt” and “Like a Cat.” The girls, as opposed to Sistar, did not have a problem being as sultry and seductive with their choreography, resulting in loud and deep cheers. The foursome, for their part, didn’t take their booty shaking moves as far as in the music videos. But maybe this was because the focus was put on the vocals of songs like “Loving U,” “Shake It,” and Sistar19’s “Ma Boy,” which the four members performed.

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But not everything was thumping beats and intricate choreography. Roy Kim and Zion T. and Crush were in charge of giving KCON a mellow, softer side. The former serenaded the audience with his guitar playing “Bom, Bom, Bom” and “Love, Love, Love.” Being one of the few English speaking acts, he thanked his fans for supporting him, especially when his lyrics are mostly in Korean. So to treat American attendees, he collaborated with Sistar’s Soyou for “Lucky” by Jason Mraz. On Sunday, Zion T., indeed, ignited our feelz with his touching rendition of “Yanghwa BRDG” (aided by Red Velvet’s Wendy in the chorus) for what he called the story of his life that talks about his dad and being happy with his family. Crush, for his part, brought the house down with Zico’s help for “Oasis.”

Collaboration stages are always a big part of the KCON concerts, but the dance battles are also a fun treat for fans. On Saturday, GOT7 and Monsta X danced to Chris Brown’s “X” and DJ Snake’s “Turn Down for What,” respectively, showcasing the full extent of their skills and dance talent. But even if the performance was set up as a battle, at the end, members of both groups, like Jr. and Shownu (an ex JYP trainee), hugged and high fived each other as they exited the stage. Furthermore, a random addition in between Zion T. and Crush’s performance saw AOA’s Jimin rise to the stage with a DJ behind her and performed her “Unpretty Rapstar” finale song “Puss.” The performance was less than a minute long, but even so, Jimin dropped her bars — the censored version, of course — and body rolled the hell out of it, which the audience received with excitement and cheers.

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Also on KultScene: Inside KCON LA 2015 [PHOTOS]

After each night’s most emotional performances (Super Junior and Shinhwa), the concerts ended in the classic roundup of all the artists to wave and thanks fans. On Saturday, Super Junior’s Heechul hugged Sistar’s Bora as they sang along to the songs played while Leeteuk gave 90 degree bows and GOT7’s Bam Bam and Yugyeom hesitated to leave the stage once everyone else left. Being the senior group, Shinhwa members chased after Zion T. and Zico to get them to take a formal bow on Sunday night, as they with the rest of the Block B members and Crush were busy clowning around together.

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With a hopeful “See you at KCON 2016” message on the screens, the best KCON installment to date came to a close. With so many new additions this year — new genres, more collaboration stages, longer sets for the headliners — we can only imagine what’s in store for next year. But if 2015 was indicative of anything is that KCON will continue to broaden its spectrum and feature more artists outside of mainstream pop.

Check out more pictures from both nights:

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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.