One of the coolest things about the KCON concert is that it stretches across multiple nights. If you get the combo tickets, you’ve got two days of artists to look forward to. By Sunday, things feel familiar. You’ve got your same seat but there’s a different roster waiting to perform.
I was a little frustrated with Saturday’s concert despite some of my favorites being part of the line-up. But whatever kinks may have snarled up the pacing were pretty much fixed on Sunday. For me, night two was a far more enjoyable show overall. Things moved at a clip (the concert was closer to 2.5 hours than 4), there was a nice mix of styles that kept things feeling fresh and the audience seemed a little less ‘shouty-for-shouting’s-sake.’
Some of the same games and features made a return on this second night (I could do without the raffles and emoji contests, KCON), but they didn’t seem to drag down the show until the very end when poor NCT Dream were pulling raffle tickets and slips of paper from multiple boxes when they’d probably rather be… you know… performing.
There’s already been a bunch of online discourse about the brutal schedule that The Boyz (and I think Dream, too?) were working under. Basically, they flew in from Korea and performed at KCON only hours later. I don’t know about you, but I can barely catch my airport shuttle after a long flight. I can’t imagine busting out intricate choreo in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans. But, these guys are as professional as it gets. If they were tired, you’d never know it from their stages.
The Boyz, in particular, brought tons of energy. I wasn’t a fan of most of the songs they chose to perform (though Maverick sounded much better in the context of an arena), but when they got to The Stealer I instantly remembered how incredible they can be. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so hard on their recent music. Their performance level is too high to be wasted on throwaway tracks. The Stealer was one of the night’s biggest highlights. The precision of that choreo is something else.
Poor NCT Dream were down Mark and Haechan, but it was interesting to see how the others picked up their slack. For me, their set was very comparable with The Boyz in the sense that I’m not partial to songs like Hot Sauce or Glitch Mode, but when they perform a total banger like Hello Future or Beatbox they really set the stage alight. I was holding out a dim hope for My First And Last to make an appearance, even though I knew it was unlikely. Alas, they didn’t perform anything pre-2021.
Every year at KCON, there are two kinds of artists. There are the big guns that often fly in right before their performance and leave shortly after, and then there are the smaller acts that stay for days, working the convention floor. They’re the groups you might run into randomly in the hallway (happened this year with INI!), and to me they’ve always been the heart of the KCON experience. My group this year was TO1, whose Drummin’ has become an unexpected “song of the summer” contender. Their performance was a huge highlight, bringing the kind of ‘young Golcha meets Block B’s H.E.R.” energy that has always been appealing to me. They looked like they were having a blast, and when they dressed up in cowboy gear for a boisterous cover of PSY’s That That, the audience joined in their energy.
The other big highlight for me during night two was WJSN. As the most established group of the whole weekend (seriously, the oldest group this year debuted in… 2016?!?), I was miffed they didn’t get to perform more songs. But, the one-two punch of Last Sequence and As You Wish was super, super good. These ladies know how to sell a big dance anthem.
Other acts had smaller sets. STAYC did the most with a two-song performance (RUN2U for the win!) while NMIXX showcased their versatility with a cover of Seventeen’s Aju Nice. Also, I think I’m somehow starting to (gulp) like O.O. Help me! It kind of went off in the arena.
LOONA returned for their second KCON LA and picked a few great songs to perform. I was especially happy to hear Voice, which might just by my favorite full-group LOONA track. P1Harmony didn’t make as big of an impression on me, but I think that’s just because I would have preferred to hear Scared or Siren over their two most recent tracks.
All in all, 2022 was another successful KCON. I’m happy the convention and concert are back on their feet after a too-long hiatus. I’ll leave you with a couple of cool songs that I heard about a million times this weekend since they’re tied to promotional videos. I’ll be downloading both. Yes, KCON’s advertising overlords got to me. I’m not immune to the MNET system, as much as I like to (lovingly?) complain about it!