B.A.P Discusses Stateside Love, Busy Schedule at World Tour Kickoff
The K-pop boy band says, "it's really important to pay back the love from the States" before sending fans fainting at New York concert
With tickets sold out for their second New York concert in an hour, the stateside fervor for K-pop boy band B.A.P was reignited once ticket sales began. For their second U.S. tour in less than a year, gaggles of fans greeted the boys at JFK airport -- documented by Mnet America's "Go! B.A.P" series -- and waited hours in line to get the best spot in Best Buy Theater's general admission pit come showtime.
The stateside excitement is comprehensible: B.A.P's fierce mix of hip-hop, pop, R&B and EDM is ultra accessible for Western audiences. Plus, in the 11 months since NYC last saw the sextet, they released a new EP, full-length album, four music videos and lead single "1004 (Angel)" snagged the band their first K-pop music chart program win. Perhaps it's why concertgoers weren't allowed inside until paramedics were on the scene -- there was a lot to be excited about.
Talking to Billboard ahead of their New York show, the B.A.P boys were equally pumped. "New York is beautiful and, thanks to our tour, we're back again," says Himchan. "We're excited to meet all our fans. It's especially exciting because we're starting off our world tour in New York so that's cool."
After hitting the East and West coasts last year, B.A.P plays NY and Los Angeles again along with often K-pop-neglected Middle America for a Chicago and Dallas concert before going to Europe. "More cities and countries have been added to our tour this year so we're really excited," the group's leader Bang Yongguk says. "That's probably the biggest change, the scale and size of the tour versus last year. I think we've added new images that we haven't been able to show in our past concerts. So, with our upgraded setlist our show will be more diverse."
While their setlist last year consisted of B.A.P material along with fun covers -- R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," a dance break to "Teach Me How to Dougie" -- the boys performed only their material. Not that fans would have wanted to hear anything else: B.A.P has already snagged three No. 1s on Billboard's World Albums chart and in February earned their highest position yet on the Heatseekers Album chart with "First Sensibility," at No. 13, last February.
"The fact that we've been able to be No. 1 on Billboard three times means that we're getting support from America and fans around the world," the band reflects. "For us, it's really important for us to be able to pay back all the love we've received from the States."
The love was more than detectable before opening number -- the dramatic, hard-hitting "One Shot" -- even began. One fan had already fainted before the show started, the first of 29 a paramedic on site tells Billboard her team treated, requiring three oxygen tanks by the show's end. The venue seemed prepared as a security team spent most of the show plucking passed-out attendees from of the pit while handing out boxes of free water bottles. A venue employee at the bar says she'd "never seen anything like this."
Looking more like bad boys than their last NYC show, the guys pulled off all their choreography almost too easily -- looking ultra cool while just rocking their shoulders side to side during second song "Badman" and spraying cans of fog on stage during "Power." But the band went unabashedly bold during cut No. 6, "Body & Soul," when they got on the floor, spread their legs and collectively thrust their pelvises to the beat -- adding to the delight of the already screeching audience.
And if fans' jaws dropped during the sexy showing, well, they'll have to get used to them staying there: B.A.P wants to get even sexier. When asked what concepts they'd like to try out, Himchan says, "More of the body-and-soul, sexy concepts," despite the group's youngest member being 17. "Even though Zelo's a minor, I feel that he's pretty mature and could probably pull it off," before adding with a laugh, "I think I'm probably the least prepared for that concept, but I just want to try it."
That's not to say the concert wasn't filled with tender moments. To perform 2013 single "Coffee Shop," the guys wheeled out a coffee cart and gave out cups of coffee and juice to lucky fans in the front row. Plus, every break to chat with the audience was filled with adorable messages like, "Don't forget this!" or "We miss you too and now we're back!"
Most notably, each B.A.P member appeared to have a role onstage: Jongup is the dancer you can't take your eyes off of, who performed a quick Michael Jackson-esque solo stage complete with a back flip; Daehyun is the vocalist belting on each track; Youngjae is the one who seems most interested in meaningful interactions with the audience, much to their delight; Himchan seems to be the member most interested in playing around with the audience (e.g., taking a selfie with a concertgoer's cell phone), also to their delight; Zelo is the shy, but charismatic youngin who follows aggressive B-boy moves by flashing a smile; Yonggguk is the cool and collected leader who lets his bandmembers soak up more of the spotlight while guiding the group behind the scenes -- the 24-year-old wrote on every track on "First Sensibility."
While Yongguk says that he's got "a few songs up my sleeve written for the next album," the boys add that before they start recording more, they're focused on the tour -- and, hopefully, having some fun during this trek.
"Unfortunately, our concert, album preparations and promotions all happen at the same time so we never really get to do what we want to do," the band admits. "But during our tour this time around, we have a lot more free time in between the concerts so we're excited to be sight-seeing together, resting, touring and travelling as a group."
As U.S. interest continues to swell with bigger and better performances in new territories -- the non-stop, choreographed show lasted more than two hours -- the guys certainly seemed to have earned at least a little downtime.