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Photos from K-Pop Nation 2012 concert in Macau: U-KISS, B.A.P, SHINee, and Girls Generation

I wanted to put up this post that very night the concert ended. But considering I only got back to Hong Kong around 2am, I was too damn tired to do anything but sleep. To say it was a hectic day would be an understatement — but I’ll write about my Macau experience when I begin my Hong Kong travel series.

This post is going to be all K-pop!

I chose to go to Macau on 2nd July, 2012 (Monday) because the K-pop Nation concert was happening that evening. I got up early and took the ferry from Hong Kong in the hopes of reaching Macau airport before the flight from Incheon (Seoul) landed at 10:40. That didn’t go according to plan for reasons I’ll rather talk about in the Macau post, but long story short, there was no need for me to go to Macau airport. You see, my biggest (K-pop) dream is to see the members of SNSD up close and in person. But as soon as I got past immigration, I saw a bunch of Shawols (SHINee fans) waiting outside. I was wearing my custom-printed SNSD t-shirt when a considerate girl approached me and told me in her limited English that SNSD arrived yesterday night at this very terminal! She told me it would be of no use to stand around if I was hoping to see the girls.

I thanked her for that bit of information, but as disappointed as I was, I thought “what the heck” and waited to at least see SHINee up close.

Macau Shawols ferry terminal
SHINee fans had been waiting long
Macau Shawols waiting for Shinee
But SHINee was to land in Hong Kong only at 2pm
Shinee fans Macau terminal
The boys wouldn’t land in Macau for another hour
Macau Shawol Diablo sign for Shinee
I can see how this is appropriate, ‘cos you know, SHINee are South Korean… and practically everybody is playing Diablo III right now!
Shinee arriving Macau terminal
As it neared 4pm, the screams began
Taemin Key Onew Shinee Macau arrival
But as they quickly made their way out of the ferry terminal, there was one tall guy missing: Minho
Onew Jonghyun Shinee Macau arrival
Sorry for the blurry shots, but it all got a bit crazy as you can imagine. I couldn’t use flash either.
Macau Shinee ferry terminal arrival
It got chaotic pretty soon

Despite the hour long wait, my experience of seeing SHINee (or whatever I could see of their faces – I couldn’t even see Taemin’s face), lasted less than a minute. Just like that it was all over. There were sunglasses and other things belonging to fans scattered on the floor in the frenzy as girls ran all over the place to get a glimpse of their idols. But fortunately nobody got hurt, and SHINee’s asshole manager didn’t punch anybody either.

I left the ferry terminal and took the bus to The Venetian Macau to get my tickets to the concert as my return ticket back to Hong Kong was only at 11:45pm. I got the HK$780 (Rs. 5,500/$100/€82) ticket and decided to spend some time sightseeing until sunset.

Cotai Arena counters Macao
I headed back to Cotai Arena around 7pm. Although I had to handover my Canon 7D camera and tripod to security, I still managed to keep my Canon 450D in my bagpack
Inside Cotai Arena Macau panorama
This is Cotai Arena – and my HK$780 seat was in front of the girl in white top

As the clock struck 8pm, a DJ came on stage and started playing some dance music to pump up the crowd.

Kpop Nation Cotai Arena glowsticks
All the glowsticks up in the air gave a good indication as to many seats were unoccupied
Cotai Arena unsold seats kpop concert
The concert was far from ‘sold out’. A good 40% of the seats were vacant. The HK$780 I paid was the fourth highest in a six-tier pricing — meaning there were three more ticket prices that cost more.

And then, seven guys walked on stage. Then walked off. Then walked back on again.

U-Kiss Kpop Nation Macau concert
U-Kiss Kpop Nation stage performance Macau
They kicked off their performance with their best song to date, “Neverland”
U-Kiss concert Macau China
The boys performed “Believe” “0330” “Bingeul Bingeul” and “Man Man Hi”
U-Kiss performing Kpop Nation macau
But it was fairly apparent that the boys were lip-syncing
U-Kiss performing Macau kpop concert
Which was kinda disappointing considering how good they are as live performers

The organziers were pretty strict about anyone recording video, but some people (as always) managed to record fancams.

B.A.P entrance kpop nation Macau concert
Next up were a hot rookie group
B.A.P performance K-pop Nation Macau concert
B.A.P began their set with an R&B ballad behind curtains before unveiling themselves
B.A.P K-Pop Nation Macau concert
They sang all their singles to date: “Warrior,” “Burn It Up,” “Unbreakable,” and “Power”

After two songs or three, every group would take a break to introduce themselves to the audience. The audience had a laugh when one of the B.A.P members said something along the lines of: “… I’m excessive to be here”. He meant “excited” but that’s not how we all heard it 🙂

B.A.P performing Macau China
Despite the fact I’m not a huge fan of them…
B.A.P Kpop Nation concert Macau dancers
… B.A.P put on one heck of a performance! I was really impressed!

After B.A.P’s energetic performance, it was now time for the big guns of K-pop. The hugely popular SM Ent. artists were up next. I was a little disappointed to not see Minho since SHINee are not Super Junior — even if one member is missing, their choreography just doesn’t feel right.

Shinee kpop nation concert
But come out as a four-piece SHINee did
Shinee Kpop Nation Macau concert
They began with with “Lucifer”. I had a blast singing along to the whole song, as it remains my favourite K-pop song!
Shinee performing in Macau
But despite the expected awesomeness that comes with being SHINee… they were lip-synching too
Shinee on-stage Macau China
After performing “Stranger,” they paused to speak to the audience. Jonghyun also explained why Minho wasn’t here tonight.

Or at least that’s what I assumed he was talking about, because he spoke in Korean and the translator only spoke in Cantonese(?). Maybe Minho was filming his drama.

Shinee Sherlock live in Macao China
The crowd went wild when “Sherlock” came on
Shinee Sherlock live in Macau China
Fans were itching to chant/shout “SHINee’s back!”
Shinee Sherlock dance Macau concert
“Oh-I’m-curious yeah…” Love that chorus! 🙂
Shinee Sherlock Kpop Macau concert
Taemin is such an energetic dancer

After “Sherlock,” I assumed “Hello” or “Replay” was next. But no. The boys looked at each other and awkwardly just walked off stage waving goodbye to the audience. I was like: “huh?”. The deal was that each artists would perform five songs each. I assumed SHINee would do an encore of two more songs later. At least that was the hope.

Kpop nation concert dj
Anyway, the DJ came back and I got ready for the final act
Kpop Nation Macau concert stage
For it was now time for the pink glow sticks to come out!
Sunny Sooyoung Seohyun screen
Because it was now time for the biggest act in the concert line-up
Jessica Yoona Yuri screen
The loudest cheers were for this group
Taeyeon Tiffany screen
Heck, they’re the main reason I came to Macau today
Snsd Macau kpop nation concert
I spent $780 mainly to see them
Girls Generation Kpop Nation Macau entrance
Because they’re my absolute favourite group in all of K-pop
SNSD Kpop Nation Macau China
SNSD a.k.a Girls Generation!
SNSD Girls Generation Kpop Nation concert
It was only because I was this far that I could manage to fit all nine of them in one frame 🙂
Girls Generation leg dance Macau
The girls ‘kicked’ off their set with “Genie (Tell Me Your Wish)”
Yuri Hyoyeon Snsd dancing Macau
I wonder what Yuri found funny
Tiffany Genie performance SNSD Macau
“Macau, put it back on!”

Snsd screen graphics kpop nation Macau

Girls Generation Genie end pose
And that was song number one
SNSD Macau Genie line dance
Next up was “Run Devil Run”
Sunny behind Sooyoung Genie dance
Poor Sunny – the shortest member right behind the tallest girl in the group 🙂

SNSD close up Macau concert

Run Devil Run dance SNSD
As impressive as their choreography usually is, it’s funny when you capture such frames. Looks like they’re creepily trying to exit the stage 😀
Girls Generation on-stage Cotai Arena
The girls then took a break to introduce themselves
Ice Princess message for Jessica Macau
This Jessica admirer got his message on the big screen
Sooyoung Girls Generation Macau
Sooyoung raises her hand, Sone raises his hand — just when I click. Ugh.
Taeyeon Girls Generation Macau
Hello dorky leader 🙂
Girls Generation Macau audience interaction
The girls introduce the next song
SNSD Hoot graphics
Time to “Hoot”! And thanks again Sone’s hand. Ugh!
Girls Generation Macau Hoot performance
But just before hitting the first chorus…
Girls Generation technical problem Macau concert
… the music suddenly stops!
Taeyeon surprise Macau concert
Best part? Taeyeon goes: “Surprise!!!!”
Yoona talking Macau concert
The girls make small talk while the team behind the scenes try to sort out the technical glitch
Girls Generation Hoot down dance
When the music began a second time, it was time to go “Down, down, down” again
Girls Generation Hoot Macao
Seohyun was doing her line before the first chorus
Girls Generation technical problem Macau
And the music stops again! And Taeyeon went: “Surprise!” – again! LOL
SNSD on stage Macau
But thoughtful ‘manager’ Tiffany still gave a shout out to the technical team for their efforts. While Yuri checked up on Sooyoung.

It was really funny, but at the same time we all wondered what was going on. Here’s a good fancam of the goof-up(s):

The girls were about to walk off stage…

SNSD Hoot third time Macau
Just then the song restarts a third time… the girls embarrassingly walk back to their positions
Hoot SNSD Macau Kpop concert
Third time proved to be a charm as it went without a hitch
Girls Generation Macau concert
The girls followed “Hoot” with “The Boys”
Girls Generation The Boys live in Macau
Which was a moment everybody was waiting for as we finally got to shout “GG!” at the top of our lungs
Girls Generation hair Macau concert
Ahh, hair freeze moments
Snsd hair funny picture
Seems everybody but Tiffany had their hair moment 🙂 LIKE A BOSS!
Girls Generation The Boys Macau concert
You don’t realize just how cramped for space SNSD’s choreography is until you see them live. How do they not bump into each other? 🙂
Snsd The Boys live in Macau
“Girls bring the boys out!”
SNSD lights Macau concert
Confetti began to rain even though we had one more song left
Girls Generation Taeyeon jig
The girls spoke one last time before getting into their final song (that’s Taeyeon doing a jig)
Taeny Macau Kpop Nation concert
TaeNy is so real, it’s no joke!
Snsd Macau stage
Everyone was up on their feet and ready to fan-chant like crazy for the final SNSD song
Snsd Gee performance Macau
For it’s SNSD’s signature song, and the one that introduced me to the group
Girls Generation Gee crab dance
“Gee, gee, gee, gee, gee, baby baby”
Girls Generation Gee dance Macau
Even though I’m tired of hearing “Gee,” seeing it live is another feeling altogether
Sunny Hyoyeon Jessica Girls Generation
Sunny smile!
Kpop Nation SNSD confetti Macau
Confetti marked the end of the girls’ performance
Kpop Nation Macau crowd Cotai Arena
The crowds were pleased, and so was I!
Empty seats Kpop Nation Macau
Ignore the empty seats below, the upper sections were full
Girls Generation SNSD saying goodbye
The girls cheerfully walked off stage with Yuri giving us all a big “muaahh”!

The DJ came back on again and some of us waited to see if there was going to be a encore. I was hoping for more SHINee, but there was none. The announcer said ‘thanks for coming’ and I left the arena.

Kpop Nation The Venetian Macau
I collected my Canon 7D and tripod and made my way out
B2ST 4minute Macau concert
Next up, B2ST and 4Minute!
Kpop Nation tickets
So was it worth it?

Well, kind of. I can now say I saw Girls Generation live in concert. And U-Kiss, B.A.P and SHINee. Add to the fact I’ve seen Jay Park and three-fifths of BIGBANG, I guess I’m lucky to have seen enough K-pop acts compared to most fans back in India. On the other hand, K-pop Nation 2012 wasn’t a well put together concert. For something that promised to be an unique show with the artists interacting with the fans and sharing stories… yeah, there was none of that. Pretty much all the interaction went like this: “We are _______” “Hello Macau, I am _______” “What’s up Macau, how you doing?” “Our next song is _____” “Goodbye Macau, we hope to be back”. That’s it – standard concert talk. In fact, SNSD spoke the most, and it was thanks to technical difficulties.

As much as I loved seeing SNSD, it was B.A.P’s set that I can say was the best without any bias. Their segment was if that’s how they would have done their stand alone concert. From start to finish, their act packed quite a punch. So I appreciate the effort they put in putting on an impressive show for what was a multi-starrer concert.

I’m proud of the fact SNSD were pretty much the only group who didn’t lip-sync! Every other group danced well, but didn’t bother singing live (did B.A.P sing live? some vocals sounded like it did). Girls Generation did both live, and were funny… god, tell me why I love them so much again?

It would have been cool if the venue was sold out as the experience could have been wilder, but that’s what you get when you price a concert out of the reach for most K-pop fans (who are really young). I know K-pop concerts in general are more expensive (heck, I’ve seen world famous David Guetta and Metallica for less!), but I can imagine the cost of bringing down such acts to such a small place like Macau, and that too in an expensive venue. Still, it’s baffling to see how many seats were empty for a concert that had U-Kiss, SHINee and Girls Generation in the line-up! That last group alone could fill up a stadium.

Of course I would have wished I was closer to the stage so I could see the girls better, but in some ways I’m glad I only paid HK$780. SNSD barely came forward to the smaller stage up front, so there was quite a bit of distance even for those who were seated in the most expensive section. It would have been nice if they had like a T-shaped stage, but anyway… I’m saving up and hoping for an SM Town in either Singapore or Bangkok later this year.

Otherwise the concert was alright. Oh yeah, there was one moron who showed up with his girl to the venue and accused me of taking his seat. I didn’t want to argue with him so I just let him sit in my seat. SNSD were just finishing up “Gee” and I wanted to click as much as I could before they left the stage. I don’t know what his problem was.

All-in-all, looking at the above photos, I’m happy I was there. My love for K-pop remains the same and I don’t think my urge to see the SNSD again has died down one bit.

As for the rest of my day, I’ll begin writing about my Hong Kong trip soon.

P.S: I did take a few more photos of U-Kiss and B.A.P, so if any of you fans/clubs want to see those, just ask. I’ll e-mail them to you. I didn’t take any videos as the Canon 450D can’t take videos, plus I didn’t want to get into trouble as the usher was right behind me.

f(x) – ‘Electric Shock’ album review: Officially in the big league(?)

f(x) are a group that only won me over last year with their summer releases “Pinnochio (Danger)” and “Hot Summer“. Their brand of electro-pop mixed in with acute girlyness and signature dance choreography made me watch their performances week after week no matter how old it got. But in SM’s world, f(x) are the girl group equivalent to boy band SHINee. Neither are considered superstar groups like SNSD or SuJu, despite racking up enough hits and a fair number of wins on music programs to earn that status.

Maybe its public perception, or lack of success in Japan – or maybe it’s because they debuted only a few years ago. Whatever it is, you can’t help but pay attention whenever a group like f(x) now makes a comeback.

FX Electric Shock album cover
‘Electric Shock’ is f(x)’s second EP/mini-album after 2010’s ‘Nu Abo’

Continue reading “f(x) – ‘Electric Shock’ album review: Officially in the big league(?)” »

Big Bang Monster mv screencap

K-pop Round-up-Review: BIGBANG, Wonder Girls, Teen Top and She’z

I didn’t feel like reviewing these releases individually, so here’s the second edition of my K-pop Round-up-Reviews. First up, the return of BIGBANG.

BIGBANG – “Monster”
One of South Korea’s best groups makes a return with a re-package album titled ‘Still Alive,’ just three months after the fantastic ‘Alive‘. I’ll make a mention of the other three ‘new’ tracks later, but let’s first get to the lead single:

What can I say about G-Dragon that hasn’t already been said many times before by pretty much anyone who knows how talented this guy is. This song is awesome! Penned by G-Dragon and T.O.P, produced by G-Dragon and Choi Pil Kang, “Monster” is a great single and has already become one of my favourite BIGBANG tracks. I rank it higher than 2011’s “Tonight” and it’s only unfortunate the group aren’t going to be promoting it on the music shows.

Unlike “Blue” and “Bad Boy” which were a change of pace for the group, “Monster” is pure K-pop. Piano melodies, thumping beats and strong vocals by Taeyang and Daesung. It isn’t a song that you can label ‘quintessentially BIGBANG,’ because the song structure is something you hear from a dozen other idol group songs. As for the video, it sure looks expensive. Lot of action, special effects and outrageous Prodigy-inspired styling. As usual, I’m not going to comment on the fashion or choice of clothing because the quality of the music outweighs both. – 5 out of 5 (Excellent)

Big Bang Monster mv screencapAs for the other tracks on ‘Still Alive,’ the title track is a full version of the intro track found on ‘Alive’. “Feeling” and “Ego” are Korean versions of their previously released Japanese tracks. “Bingeul Bingeul” (not to be confused with U-Kiss’ track of the same name) is rock-infused and a pretty good album track. The rest of the track-list includes “Blue,” “Bad Boy,” “Fantastic Baby” and “Love Dust” – making this a great collection for people who were holding out from picking up ‘Alive’. I’ve got my copy on pre-order at YesAsia!

Wonder Girls – “Like This”

Another super group returns to the Korean music scene a few months after a stellar previous effort. As much as everyone is anticipating the American debut of the Wonder Girls, JYP has released the Girls’ second Mini Album ‘Wonder Party’ in Korea. Comprised of six tracks, the lead single is “Like This”:

I must say the song caught me by surprise. It’s a sound I never expected from the Wonder Girls. Very edgy, unique and more hip-hop than k-pop. It’s another track by their mentor J.Y. Park, but all that time spent in America seems to have influenced his musical style too. It took me a few listens to like the song but I think it works for the direction the girls are heading towards as they venture into the Western market.

If I heard the audio before watching the music video, I would have picturized it very differently. Quite ghetto in fact. It’s weird. The song doesn’t sound like a happy-go-lucky song you like to bop to, but the way the girls dance to the beat (and everybody else in the MV) – the video seems to convince you otherwise. For once you get an idol group video in an open environment and not confined to a set. So everything the Wonder Girls have done this time seems to be a welcome change. “Like This” may not be a favourite, but I won’t skip the channel if the music video ever came on. – 3 out of 5 (Excellent)

Wonder Girls party album cover members

As for the rest of the album, it didn’t really fit my fancy as much as ‘Wonder World’ did. I didn’t instantly fall in love with the other tracks like I did when I first ‘Wonder World’. It may take me a few listens, but just like “Like This” the rest of the album is altogether a sound you’re not used to hearing from Wonder Girls.

Teen Top – “To You”

This is the first time I’m writing about Teen Top. The six member boyband debuted around the same time as INFINITE and seemed to be on the same path of progress alongside INFINITE. But INFINITE gained pace far quicker and are already one of the best (and my favourite!). After “Supa Luv,” my favourite song by Teen Top to date is “No More Perfume On You” (produced by Sweetune). I hoped the songs would get better, but instead the Brave Brothers-produced track “Goin’ Crazy” was chosen as their 2012 comeback. I didn’t like it. I’m not a fan of the “Brave sound”. So when I heard Teen Top’s next comeback track was also going to be produced by Brave Brothers, I doubted I would like it.

When I heard the audio first, I thought the song was quite dull. But I must admit it was a poor quality upload. My opinion soon changed when I saw the MV. I loved the hard beats, 90s-inspired vibe and for once, Niel doesn’t get all the lines to sing! I especially loved the dancing. Like INFINITE, Teen Top are fantastic performers and their dancing is very in-sync. “To You” isn’t better than “No More Perfume…” but it is now my second favourite song by the group. It suits the image of the boys well and I look forward to their live performances.

When I heard SISTAR’s “Alone,” I was quite wowed. I never knew the Brave Brothers could produce such a good track! So it’s a sign the “Brave sound” has evolved and Kang Dong Chul is experimenting with newer sounds as supposed to sticking to the uptempo formula that churned out “Bingeul Bingeul” and “Man Man Ha Ni” for the likes of U-Kiss. “To You” may not be a classic, but I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. – 4 out of 5 (Very Good)

Teen Top Artist album cover members kpop
Back on top

Honourable mention

The other song I felt I should give some attention to is “My Way” by rookie girl group She’z.

She'z My Way mv screencap kpop
She’z from Line Entertainment

Pop-rock with really strong vocals. The traits very common with, erm, I dunno… Kelly Clarkson? 🙂 And Kelly is exactly the artist that came to mind when I heard the first line of the chorus. Sounds like “My Life Would Suck Without You” doesn’t it? The selling point this group has is a fresh sound and all four of them have really good vocals! Hello Venus, another rookie girl group that debuted just recently, caught my attention too. But their debut single “Venus” is the typical cutesy concept, which although good, doesn’t hold the candle to a debut song like “My Way” by She’z. I appreciate it when companies know what the market is saturated with and then take the tough decision to offer something different.

My rating for She’z “My Way” – 3 out of 5 (Good)

P.S: I also liked A-Pink’s “Hush Hush” but only when I see them dancing to it.

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