Billboard sat down with the six-member boy band as they toured America with a rare four-date trek.
A lot was atypical about B.A.P’s U.S. tour.
As a K-pop idol group, the six-member boy band would thrive in an environment similar to performing in their native Korea: technologically-advanced flashy concert stages for shows in the biggest cities. This was the arrangement when they performed at KCON 2012 in Los Angeles and that BIGBANG, 2NE1 and SM Entertainment artists had for their arena shows in New York and L.A.
But things were a little different this time around. With Verizon Wireless and Asian entertainment brand Mnet America behind them, B.A.P embarked on a four-date theatre tour for the Verizon Presents APAHM Concert Tour 2013: B.A.P LIVE ON EARTH.
In the matter of 10 days, the boys hit the usual L.A. and N.Y., but also performed for fans in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Not only were B.A.P fans treated to the live show, but the tour’s sponsors and the group brought fans a private “high touch” event to each stop where 100 fans were selected to give each B.A.P member a high-five—a popular practice in Asia. According to Mnet America, it was the first high touch event in the U.S. open to the public as similar fan interactions needed to be bought with special packages in the past.
If that sounds like too foreign of a concept for Americans to grasp, well, you should talk to the seven fans Billboard spotted crying after high fiving Bang Yong Guk, Him Chan, Dae Hyun, Young Jae, Jong Up and Zelo (aka B.A.P). But if the reaction seems shocking, the boys themselves were just as shocked as the reaction for their tour.
“There’s a lot more energy and noise than we expected,” vocalist Dae Hyun tells Billboard (via translator) a day before the tour’s final concert. “Everybody -- even those in the seated areas -- would get up and cheer ‘til the end of the show. We were really excited about the response and didn’t expect it.”
That excitement carried over to the Best Buy Theatre for their New York stop -- at times, to a dangerous extent as one female concertgoer fainted and needed to be carried out of the general admission pit before the show even began. The crowd moved like an unforgiving sea, squeezing those at the front (some of whom were in line the night before).
Danger aside -- for B.A.P, the ultra-enthusiasm translated to a deeper connection with their U.S. fans.
"It seemed like fans were really dancing together with us, rather than just cheering for us" reflects singer/dancer/rapper and major B.A.P visual Himchan (via translator). "That was something that brought the American fans to a different level. They were really dancing along to all of it and we really thought there was more of a connection between our fans in America."
NEXT: 2013 music, American ambitions and their "dream come true"