KCON USA brought nine diverse Korean acts to the Prudential Center this past weekend, from JYP Entertainment's first rock band Day6 to Jersey native Ailee and fan favorites Seventeen and BTS.
From unexpected collaborations and covers of K-pop classics to tearful speeches, KCON USA (presented by Toyota) brought K-pop, R&B, hip-hop, ballads and a number of unscripted moments to the Prudential Center stage in New Jersey on June 24-25. The eclectic range of performances left fans more than delighted, as fan favorites and rising acts alike kept audiences going for two straight nights.
7:45 p.m.: The evening's MCs, power vocalist Ailee and Rap Monster of BTS, take the stage to a near-deafening roar from the crowd, which doesn't seem to die down as the two banter for a bit from the script before dropping hints as to who the night's first act will be.
7:52 p.m.: Confusingly-named Seventeen kick off the first night of KCON New York with twelve of its members -- rapper Wonwoo is on a temporary hiatus due to health problems -- and perform an alternate version of "Shining Diamond" off its very first EP.
7:55 p.m.: Seventeen bring the sugar with its latest single, "Pretty U," a bright love song with choreography reminiscent of West Side Story if the Sharks and Jets ever decided to stop feuding and form a boy band. Member Hoshi displays Wonwoo's photo on the cover of a book to an awww-ing crowd, a move he's done a number of times during Wonwoo's break from performing.
8:20 p.m.: One-time rapper turned R&B singer Crush does double duty on his vibey summer hit "Oasis" as he fills in for absentee rapper Zico of Block B. Crush puts his own spin on Zico's OG Maco-inspired verse, dousing the heated crowd with bottled water as he jumps around the extended stage and gets the audience hyped.
8:24 p.m.: Crush closes his KCON New York set with the sultry "Hug Me" featuring Dynamic Duo's Gaeko, with Crush slipping once again into rapper mode as a complement to Gaeko's racy verses.
8:28 p.m.: Ailee performs breakup anthem "Mind Your Own Business" straight through a technical glitch that stops her backing track. Always a consummate professional, Ailee powers straight through and flaunts the same vocal prowess you can hear on the studio version of the track.
8:44 p.m.: A tearful Ailee explains the importance of tonight's homecoming performance: "I was nervous for the first time performing -- I've never been nervous before, not even my debut performance, not even my first solo concert...but I was super nervous today, just thinking about performing at home. You guys have made it very comfortable tonight, and I don't wanna leave the stage!" She goes on to hint at a potential American album in the future, which the crowd is more than ready for.
8:56 p.m.: In an unexpected move, BtoB eschews the usual jeans and fashionable tees for pastel pink suits and begins its set with "Remember That," the 2016 ballad that gave the band three music show wins. Soaring high notes from Eunkwang and Changseob send the crowd into a frenzy.
9:07 p.m.: In a cross-cultural watershed boy band moment -- okay, maybe it isn't that major -- the boys of BtoB do an impromptu cover of One Direction's "History."
9:15 p.m.: Seventeen fly through a number of nostalgia-invoking covers, from label mate After School's "Bang" to Super Junior's "Sorry Sorry" and TVXQ's "Balloons."
9:32 p.m.: Dynamic Duo's Gaeko impresses with his flow on "Rhythm Is Life," a gimmick-free rap track that relies solely upon a drum-driven rhythm and Gaeko's skills.
9:39 p.m.: Dynamic Duo and Crush close the first night of KCON New York with the timely dance-rap anthem "Friday Night," as Seventeen, Ailee and BtoB dance on the main stage.
Day 2: Saturday, June 25
7:42 p.m.: Mamamoo gets the second night of KCON New York going with the jazzy "You're the Best," which features choreography that incorporates notable moves from previous singles and lyrical references to "Piano Man" and "Mr. Ambiguous."
8:04 p.m.: Mamamoo's Hwasa gives New York a special shout-out to the tune of "Empire State of Mind" during her ever-changing ad lib for "Um Oh Ah Yeh."
8:07 p.m.: Best known for his romantic ballads and guy-next-door persona, Eric Nam emerges with a full bouquet of roses, which he proceeds to hand out to a number of flustered audience members.
8:20 p.m.: To the crowd's disappointment, Eric Nam doesn't perform "Ooh Ooh" featuring INFINITE's Hoya; he apologizes and appeases the crowd with a 20-second long a cappella rendition.
8:23 p.m.: Eric Nam performs his KOLAJ collaboration "Into You," a crisp, tropical track that marks his foray into the Western music industry. The singer, who isn't known for his dancing unlike most in the K-pop industry, took this opportunity to show off his best moves.
8:37 p.m.: Day6, JYP Entertainment's first venture into rock, performs its debut song "Congratulations," a melancholy power ballad that could easily fit in at Lollapalooza.
8:51 p.m.: Day6 take a page from Seventeen's book with a cover of C.N.Blue's "I'm a Loner" and rock remakes of K-pop classics "Lies" by Big Bang and "Nobody" by the Wonder Girls featuring the vocals of Mamamoo.
8:57 p.m.: Eric Nam and Ailee team up for a cover of Soyou and Junggigo's inescapable love song "Some." "That was so awkward!" Ailee cries the moment their performance ends. Thankfully, her friend Eric agrees.
9:05 p.m.: Headliners BTS, clad in the same tourist-in-Honolulu tops from their music video for "Fire," bring the heat with the trap-meets-electronic sound of "Fire" and quick footwork during the song's breakdown.
9:24 p.m.: BTS close KCON New York with international fan-favorite "Dope;" the chaotic, in-your-face, brassy track gets the crowd to shout along. Rap Monster and Suga barely need to rap their final verses; the fans know every single word.