This year’s Korean Music Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles was all about national pride and spirit! All eyes in Korea are on the team representing them this year at the World Cup, so the enthusiasm and support for the team was showcased throughout the concert.
Even though a good 80% of the audience was there specifically for Kara, B2ST, Wonder Girls and 2PM, the line up was unexpectedly spread apart. B2ST performed first to the surprise of virtually everyone in the audience. Fans were rushing to their seats and in an instant hundreds of fan signs shot up into the air. All glitzed up in black and gold, B2ST intro’d themselves in Korean and sung Easy, followed by Mystery and ending with Shock before they bowed, “Thank you!” and scuttled off stage. They were sharp and hit the beat every time! Anybody could tell they must have practiced their bones off!
Veteran singer Kim Yun Ja was next. Her sound is actually enka and she became famous in Japan for her enka singing style. That sounds like something to hit the snooze button for, since a huge chunk of the audience was there for the pop groups, but she got the entire audience checked into her routine from early on.
Another noteworthy performance was Lee Eun Mi. Her voice carries very richly, and she received a thunderous amount of applause for her performance which was visually and emotionally impacting.
Leessang and Kim Jong Kook also received a lot of audience love, and I’m quite sure some new fans were made in the process. Their interaction with the audience was strong and their presence on stage was captivating.
Being a veteran performer really shows. The veteran singers know their way around the stage like they know the back of their hand and they know how to invest in their performance and allow the audience to become a part of it.
One of the unique features of the Korean Music Festival is the audience gets to bear witness to special performances that they wouldn’t see otherwise. In one case, Kara performed a special stage with trot singer Joo Hyun Mi. MC Haha randomly selected a girl in the audience to serenade (yes, she was serenaded in front of 18,000 people – petal throwing and pelvic thrusting included). 2PM, Kara, Leessang, Kim Jong Kook, and Haha crowded the stage for a spirited performance of “GO KOREA!” in support of Korea’s participation in the World Cup.
Once 2PM hit the stage, the screams pretty much hit an all-time high. I don’t think it got any higher than that if my ears are any indication (they’re still reeling from the shock) but they are definitely well equipped to handle thousands of screaming fans. Once the beginning riff of Again & Again started, the floor practically started to shake. Scanning the crowd I could see that a lot of the audience was mimicking the hand movements and what not. The boys followed this up with Heartbeat and finished with their latest song, Without U. Each performance was more powerful than the last. Their dance moves were fast and so well timed, and their bodies are in excellent shape. The whole atmosphere was just tingling with goosebumps.
Kara’s performance was very sexy. I’m impressed. They’ve got a powerful stage presence and Nicole? She can really swivel her hips! She was a co-MC with Haha but made sure to leave room for English remarks as well. Kara performed Lupin, Honey, and Mister.
The Wonder Girls were the last performers of the night. No big surprise there considering they’re the group with the most exposure in the US. They performed So Hot first followed by Tell Me, and just before they performed their biggest hit, Nobody (in English), they asked the audience “Do you know our dance? We’re gonna teach it to you.” In five minutes everyone was taught the basic steps to the Nobody dance, though I have a pretty certain feeling that most people already knew!
The crowning touch to this concert was a dazzling display of lights and fireworks cascading into the night sky, the perfect backdrop to the final song “GO KOREA” in which all the performers returned to the stage to celebrate. Cameras went up for those final closing shots of video footage and the entire bowl was feeling a serene sense of satisfaction, that is until the mass chaos of tracking cars in a dark, unlit parking lot followed. For the most part however, the 8th Annual Korean Music Festival was a supreme success! Until next year!
Check out more stories, images, and videos from the festival here.