I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, even a few kpop shows. But even before the show started, Infinite’s tour was going to be different. There’s nothing quite like seeing your bias group live, in person, for the first time. In some ways, it felt like a surreal dream. It took quite awhile to process that it actually happened.
I live in the Pacific Northwest, but due to the way that tickets were released (LA’s went on sale much earlier than Vancouver’s), I went ahead and bought tickets for LA, knowing full well that I was going to see Infinite no matter how far I needed to travel. Somehow, we ended up with front row seats in the center of the orchestra. It really couldn’t have been better, and guaranteed that we’d be booking a flight to California.
So… how was it? Let’s start with the overall experience first.
The Experience: Really, it was everything you’d expect and want from a proper kpop show. Cosplaying fans, excited fangirls handing out banners to hold up for the members, repeated exclamations of how everyone was going to “die” as soon as the guys came onstage. In a lot of ways, the atmosphere was more akin to something like a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show than a simple concert. Kpop fandom is its own community, and these concerts are like its worship meetings.
Now, seeing the guys in person, up close… right in front of us. I haven’t ever had front row seats for a concert before, and it was so cool not having to look at the monitors to see the members’ faces. Being in the center gave a perfect view of all of their iconic choreography. But the biggest advantage by far came when the guys entered the audience for Cover Girl. Fearlessly, without a whole lot of security, all seven members came out to the aisles to perform the entire song within the quickly swarming crowd. It was a bit of a feeding frenzy, and even more surreal to see these people I’ve admired and watched for so long on TV standing less than a foot in front of me. I was lucky enough to grasp Sungjong’s hand and pat Woohyun and L’s shoulders. As stalker-ish as that sounds (and boy, does it), it somehow made these larger-than-life performers, who live so far away, very real. Just the idea of exchanging energy and having that moment… it’s really what every fan wants. I’m not sure if they’ve ventured this completely into the front rows of the audience on each tour stop, but it was a very nice surprise for us in L.A.
I was surprised how much the guys chatted between songs, though most of it was through a translator. Having watched all their Korean concerts, I know that the between-songs banter is always entertaining, but I assumed that due to the language barrier, it would be truncated. The talks were definitely more scripted than back in Korea, but it was nice to hear Dongwoo, Hoya and Sungjong try their hand at English. Dongwoo seemed especially upbeat, and Hoya especially thankful. Those two, along with Woohyun, engaged particularly well with the audience. Hoya was the last to leave the stage, and not before he managed to wave and make eye contact with everyone he could.
The Music: I had no doubt that Infinite would live up to all the expectations that I had. In the world of kpop, I firmly believe they are right at the top when it comes to live performance. The fact that their vocals remain flawless through nearly three hours of grueling choreography-fueled numbers is astonishing. Sungkyu and Woohyun in particular are just extremely gifted and passionate vocalists, though everyone did well. I was surprised by the strength in Sungjong’s live vocals, as that doesn’t always translate to studio recordings.
Hoya was back in full force, after months of sitting on the sidelines while the others danced. He took center stage for many of the more choreo-focused songs, and really gave it his all. He and Dongwoo aren’t known as the group’s main dancers for nothing.
The guys’ energy never seemed to flag, from the intense BTD opening to Come Back Again and Together, which closed the show. There were multiple costume changes and Sungkyu, Woohyun, Infinite H and Infinite F solo/unit stages, but everything ran like clockwork, with tour video interstitials and the original unreleased “water” version of the Last Romeo music video to keep us company while the guys were changing for the next stage.
Having combed through the setlist from previous Infinite Effect shows, I was happy to see that they added Nothing’s Over. It came at the expense of some of their Japanese songs, but I was really pleased that, alongside their entire new album, they included most of the classics. The only big single that wasn’t included was Man In Love, which was a little sad, since it’s one of my favorites. We did get to see the music video during the lead-up to the show, though.
Some musical highlights (minus the hysteria of Cover Girl, which was by far the highlight):
- The Chaser – I’ve already written about why I think this is the best song in all of kpop, and seeing it live was on my bucket list. It didn’t disappoint. Even though it was towards the end of the show, the guys still attacked it with full energy. Hearing those voices and seeing that choreo right in front of me was beyond description.
- Between Me & You – They didn’t perform a ton of ballads, but this was definitely their biggest opportunity to show off pure vocals. It was stunning and seemed so grand.
- Everyday (Woohyun solo) – I adore Woohyun’s voice, and I intentionally held off on viewing fancams of this song because I wanted to experience it completely live for the first time. After watching the performance, I need this to be released as soon as possible. Woohyun thrives on tracks that let him really perform, and this synth rock anthem let his vocals soar and showcased his incredible charisma.
- Back – This is one powerful song, and set the crowd on fire when performed live.
That’s four highlights among many, and it would be impossible to encapsulate what makes a night like this so special. I’m already counting down until they come back to the States and I can see them again! For now, I wish them good luck on their remaining tour dates and hope that when they’re done they get a nice vacation before returning with (hopefully) multiple Korean comebacks in 2016.