This year’s Korean Music Festival was held on April 30th with the theme being “The Legend Continues”. Being the ninth year of the concert, it is well known for being the biggest annual K-Pop concert in the US every year.
MC’ing the concert this year were G.NA and Kim Chang-Youl. Compared to past hosts who were fluent in English (Brian Joo in 2007 and 2008, KARA’s Nicole in 2010), G.NA spoke a lot English and translated mostly everything for the non-Korean speaking audience.
Starting off the concert was Korean drumming followed by traditional Korean singing by Song So Hee. The US national anthem was sung by Sul Woon Do followed by K.Will singing the Korean national anthem.
Veteran singer Sul Woon Do, one of Korea’s most popular trot singers, entertained the crowd with his music. Some people may have recognized him as the father of F.CUZ’s Lee U.
One of the special stages this year was during Jeong Soo Ra’s set, as she was joined by Hyorin (SISTAR), Jay Park, Ji Eun (Secret) and Soohyun (U-KISS) for a song. Although she was an enjoyable singer and had amazing stage presence, the audience became much more livelier with the addition of idols to the stage.
After hearing the first words from G.NA’s debut song “I’ll Back off So You Can Live”, fans went crazy, waiting for her to walk out on stage. I was hoping for someone to take over Jun Hyung’s (BEAST) rap part during the beginning part of the song, but G.NA just waved to the audience at that part. Following that up was her more recently promoted song “Black and White”. As one of the MC’s of the event, I was hoping for her to perform more then two songs. I did think that she sounded amazing live, almost perfectly as it sounds on her album.
Being the only idol boy group this year, U-KISS had many fans anticipating their appearance on stage. They began with their most recent song “0330”, with many ready for the moment to sing along with everyone’s favorite lyrics “Don’t deny our R squared pi”. All the members then introduced themselves in English, followed by their more upbeat dance songs “Binggeul Binggeul” and “Man Man Ha Ni”. I would have to say that both songs were so much enjoyable to see live because of the energy that reflected off the audience.
Sistar was the first of the three idol girl groups of the concert to go up on stage. They performed their debut song “Push Push” and “How Dare You”. Both were very solid performances. Like G.NA, they too weren’t on stage for too long and performed only two songs.
Baek Ji Young was definitely a crowd favorite as she sang three of her most popular songs from recent years, starting off with this year’s “That Woman” from the Secret Garden OST. K.Will joined in for her 2009 dance hit “My Ear’s Candy”, taking over the rapping/singing parts originally done by 2PM’s Taecyeon. She finished her set with “Don’t Forget” from the Iris OST.
To the delight of many screaming fans, Hyun Bin (Secret Garden) and Lee Byung Hun (IRIS) made surprise appearances as during both the OST songs, scenes from their respective dramas played in the background.
The first half of the concert came to its conclusion with lots of energy as DJ DOC was the last to go before intermission. One of their biggest hits in the past, “Run To You”, was definitely a crowd favorite and got many people pumped and up and singing along. In fact, all of their songs were like that, keeping much of the audience on their feet.
Starting the second half of the concert was the 1st Generation Jazz Band. With an average age of 70 years old, they hardly acted their age, performing with so much enthusiasm .
Secret was the next idol group to come up, performing their three latest hits, starting with “Madonna”, followed by “Shy Boy” and “Magic”. All were excellent performances that had the audience singing and dancing along.
Ballad singer K.Will was another of the more anticipated singers of the night and started the song he is currently promoting “My Heart Beating”. Rapper Vasco joined him for “Love 119”, which was another upbeat song that the audience was familar with. He finished up his set with his 2009 hit “Miss Miss and Miss”. Like Baek Ji Young, K.Will’s ballads seemed to touch the hearts of the people in the bowl.
After K.Will were older generation solo singers Lee Eun Ha, followed by Jeon Young Rok.
With his new album being released this week, Jay Park was easily one of the most anticipated performances of the concert. Starting with his very memorable “Nothing On You”, the noise level of the bowl went to one its highest levels for the night. The audience continued to go crazy as Jay had his first ever live performance of “Abandoned”, from his new album.
Jay then went on to rap to Lil wayne’s “6 Foot 7 Foot” followed by break dancing by him and his backup dancers.
The girls of 4minute performed with their usual strong stage presence, with each song having so much energy and enthusiasm. Their started with their new song “Mirror Mirror”, followed by “I My Me Mine”, “Muzik” and “Hot Issue. “They were surprised at how well the audience knew the words to “Hot Issue”.
Although it was surprising that the closing artist was a non-idol, solo singer Kim Jang Hoon had an amazing set and performed a number of songs. So many times, he screamed into the microphone and then pointed it at the audience, egging everyone on to match his voice.
He jumped off the stage and joined the audience, managing to sing a ballad while being embraced by many audience members. Later, he also had a random person help him on stage for a song, holding the microphone while he played the harmonica.
For the concert finale, the entire lineup of artists came out to sing a special ending medley, while at the same time a spectacular display of fireworks lights up the sky. Walking over the extended parts of the stage, they all give their final “thank you” to the audience and bow. With this year’s KMF over, fans can only look forward to next years concert and what excitement it will bring.
Every year it is easily visible that a huge percentage of the crowd isnt Korean. Nearing the end of the concert, G.NA explained the feeling that many international K-Pop fans have: “I know the majority of you don’t understand Korean, but through music there’s something we can connect to you by”. The entire audience roared back in agreement.
For fancams and more photos by soompi members, check out the KMF 2011 topic here.