Jun 7, 2016

My KCON Paris 2016 Experience

One of the better events that has come out of the K-pop realm the last five years or so is KCON, a music festival and convention about everything and anything Korean. For the first years it took place only in the US but it has later expanded to other Asian countries like Japan and most recently also Abu Dhabi. It was therefore really surprising that suddenly a KCON in Paris was announced, and with probably one of the best line-ups of groups as well (that and the coming one in LA). My two french friends (whom I met in Korea) and I quickly decided we had to go, and we managed to buy standing tickets to the show, and although it felt like a long wait at the time suddenly it was time for me to fly to France and witness I.O.I, Block B, f(x), F.T Island, BTS and SHINee live in person.

I arrived in France one day before the convention and met up with my friend who came to see me at the airport, and to my surprise I found out that I had just missed specially invited guest Jin Goo as he had passed through the same arrival hall as me only a few minutes later. I also found out that apparently all of the groups were arriving shortly at another terminal so we headed there immediately. As one would expect the place was packed with fangirls and we didn't really see anything nor did anyone show up for about an hour so we eventually left to meet up with another friend of ours. "We'll see them tomorrow so it's fine" was what we told ourselves. And we did.

At the arrival hall in the airport.

At the day of the concert we decided we wanted to be there early, but not super early. I think we arrived at the arena around 9 AM, and instantly we faced a difficult decision. I don't know how the other conventions have worked, but there were to separate lines for the concert and the actual convention, and we had to pick one. Had we had seats we could've chosen the convention because we wouldn't have had to care about getting a good spot in the pit, but we didn't have seats. In that situation we decided that the concert was more important (especially since we had recently been to Korea and the convention held only about 500 people at any given moment so it's possible we wouldn't even had the chance to enter in the first place since the queue was already very long when we got there). And thus the queuing began, which at first was boring and cold (the weather was really crappy) but we made some new friends next to us in the queue and we could listen to music together and have discussions about our favorite groups and members. It was also really convenient that we were more people (about 7-8) because that meant some of us could leave and use the bathroom or buy some food while the others were waiting and vice versa. All in all the queuing experience wasn't that bad but it definitely wasn't fun and my back and feet hurt really bad after standing (we couldn't sit since the ground was wet due to the rain).

The last part of queuing, right outside the arena.

Eventually we made it into the arena about 7.30 PM (the concert started at 8) and found ourselves some pretty good standing spots. It was hard to know where to stand due to the shape of the stage (it had like two stages and multiple bridges between them) but we felt pretty happy with our spots. Of course we were all incredibly excited and nervous and it definitely felt surrealistic, but above all I was wondering whether or not I could be standing up straight for three hours because of my back. The arena was much smaller than expected (which I had nothing against) and it was really crowded. However despite claiming to have sold out there were a lot of empty seats on the right hand side which I found odd, but whatever.

We finally got inside!

Then the actual concert started, and everyone was freaking out because the opening number was mostly performed by BTS (which was arguably the most popular group with the most vocal fans as well) as they did a dance version of traditional Korean song "Arirang". I don't really remember much of it apart from gasping over the fact that they were actually there in real life form. I could see them with my own eyes and not through a screen. Other groups did participate in the opening number as well but I honestly don't remember anything but BTS in white suits looking handsome. The first group to perform was Block B or more specifically, Zico, who certainly had the loudest cheers. I'm not a huge Block B fan but I like their songs and they were great live, and of course Zico's star quality, stage presence and charisma can't be ignored. He may have had the most hideous hair cut and clothes and he's not actually that good looking but you can't help but to find him attractive.

I.O.I were up next and it was obvious that they had much less experience than the other performing groups, but they did well. However due to a really stupid mistake by their manager Somi coudn't perform since she's under 16, and for those to attend the concert they need to have a certain permit which they didn't hand in in time. The rest of girls however were all incredibly pretty and look just as good in real life as on screen, and hearing "Pick Me" live was definitely one of the concert's highlights. After I.O.I came f(x), who did their thing as they always do; effortlessly and flawlessly. They were also missing a member in Victoria, who was busy filming a drama in China, but they did fine without her. It was relieving to find out that Krystal is just as pretty in real life, Luna just as sweet and talented and Amber blew me away with how hot she was. Seriously I was gasping over her attractiveness (especially as she came close to us), and she was also the most natural at talking to the audience. They performed three f(x) songs and Amber did her solo with the help from I.O.I's Chungha, but the big highlight was Luna's live performance of her new solo track "Free Somebody". This performance at KCON was her first ever live performance so to witness that was truly amazing, and she performed it flawlessly.

FINALLY after much anticipation BTS came out and performed all of their best and newest songs; "Fire, "Dope", "I Need U", "Save Me" (!!) and "Fun Boys". They all looked so beautiful in person (V and RM especially left an impact on me) and they performed with so much energy, power and presence like I've never seen before. Seeing them live truly made me realize why they've become so popular, more so that what I already knew. I was also going slightly crazy about seeing Jungkook in real life as he has now become one of my most biased biases ever, and he looked amazing. I could watch him dance forever, and Jimin too for that matter, who actually came to sit down near where we were standing. I will never recover from that. Following the boys were F.T Island, who were arguably the least popular group performing, but you almost couldn't tell. The crowd was so supportive of all groups and everyone was really getting into F.T Island's performance, mostly thanks to Hongki's ability to get everyone super excited. Speaking of Hongki I was yet again blown away by his vocals that are so powerful and stable even when running around on stage like a crazy person. Guitarist Seunghyun and bassist Jaejin made their way to were we where and played for us with huge smiles on their faces, and they were both super attractive. Although I'm not a huge F.T Island fan either I can't deny that their live is great.

Last but not least there were SHINee, or well, four out of five parts of SHINee. Jonghyun had to drop his solo album right now so he couldn't attend KCON due to his promotions, which naturally made me upset since he's my bias, but seeing almost all of SHINee is better than none. You could tell already from the beginning that these guys are pros, mostly because of their relaxed attitude on stage and their ability to have fun and enjoy the moment without loosing any of their sharpness. It was incredible how great their live singing was, almost to the point of me not believing it because it was so stable even when dancing their asses off. They also did a lot of fan service, and Key and Minho in particular went to our side a lot and made hearts and blew kisses. I even made eye contact with Minho for a split second, and my life was never the same since. Of course they were all gorgeous in person and Key especially awed me with his beauty, but it was Minho's body (and especially thighs) that stole the show. Onew's smile was as precious as always and Taemin kept on spinning like there was no tomorrow. It was also during SHINee's performance that I finally snapped some pictures, so here they are:

Then after their glorious 25-minute show the concert was over, and all the groups came out again to say one last goodbye.

KCON for me was without a question one of the greatest experiences in my life. To be able to see some of my absolute favorite groups live in one single show was awesome and I would do it all again if I could, even with all the queuing. I was so happy to have my friends with me (both old and new ones) and to able to share this experience together, as I know it is something I will never forget. All of the groups were fantastic and the crowd was also way better than I had expected. There was no pushing or rude behavior (at least where I was standing) and everyone was so happy and excited and cheered for all the groups, whether they liked them or not. You could tell that the idols enjoyed the crowd as well, and it made for even better performances. Of course there were some things about KCON that I didn't like (having to chose between the concert and convention) and the planning was also lacking as the schedule for the convention was released only the day before the event. It was their first time in France so I do have some understanding, but I think for next time it will be even better. And I definitely intend to go next time as well. 

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