Opening With “Shoot Out”
There’s beastly idols and then there’s Monsta X. When the seven glittery figures emerged onto the red and black expanse of the stage, they greeted the 21,000-seat venue with a wall of sound. The rumbling bass rattled the sound system, making the intensity of their performance that much more visceral. If K-pop is characterized by sensory overload, Monsta X offers a full-on sensory assault. “Shoot Out” was a fitting entry point for a testosterone-fueled set list.
Kihyun Performing With a Fractured Rib
The hashtag #GetWellSoonKihyun trended worldwide after Monsta X announced that the singer would have to perform while seated at the L.A. show. “Per the doctor’s opinion, the management suggested that it would be best for Kihyun not to participate in the concert tonight,” the group’s team said in a statement. However, Kihyun told the crowd that he felt it was important to “keep that promise” and perform. While he couldn’t participate in the high-intensity choreography, he still managed to belt all the right notes. Fractured ribs couldn’t contain his powerful voice -- and there’s videographic evidence.
The MonTube Segment
“YouTuber” is increasingly becoming an add-on to K-pop idols’ multi-hyphenate careers, and live streaming is practically a necessity nowadays. (Korean streaming service VLIVE did live stream this concert, after all.) The septet put a playful spin on idol vlogging with their “MonTube” pre-recorded video. Each member took on a different genre of YouTuber, with Minhyuk as the beauty guru, Kihyun as the barista, Wonho as the gym instructor, I.M as the English teacher, Hyungwon as the fashionista, Shownu as the mukbang broadcaster, and Joohoney as the cook. The intermission clip was a creative form of fan service -- the entirety of the Staples Center stretched along with Wonho as he geared up for his exercise routine.
The Unit Performances
The group broke out into a succession of subunits at one point. Minhyuk and Hyungwon traded off solo dance segments as Kihyun sauntered on stage to perform a cover of Bazzi’s slow jam “Myself.” I.M and Joohoney flexed the athleticism of their rap skills with their self-composed track “Sambakja.” Then there was “Mirror,” a sensual R&B track brought to life by Wonho and Shownu’s two-toned performance. With a prop wall wedged between them, their dance moves achieved perfect synchronicity.
Joohoney’s Drum Rampage
Excuse his charisma, but Joohoney knows how to command a drum solo. He initially dropped one of his sticks, but he made a swift recovery as the crowd continued with fan chants from “Sambakja.” As he pummeled the kit, you could literally feel the beats through the speakers. By the end of his stage, he ferociously pounded the cymbals. “I just tried to bang up the drums,” he said. Well played.
The “Flower Boy” Portion of the Night
Monsta X built a reputation for hard-hitting singles and mature sex appeal, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to switch up their concept. The members traded in the chains and harnesses of their darker material for school-boy uniforms for a four-song section. Wonho introduced “Honestly” by asking the crowd, “Will you be mine?” This light-hearted R&B track was a stark deviation from their hard-hitting discography, functioning as a vehicle for their aegyo. The trop house of “I DO LOVE U” was aided by plenty of finger guns and inspirational messages flashing across the screen. This duality is not completely unexpected for most Monbebes. If you read “mon” as the French “my,” their monstrous name has the double meaning of “my star.”
Hyungwon’s DJ Set
As soon as the encore began, it felt like the Staples Center transformed into the Electric Daisy Carnival. Hyungwon emerged on stage as H.One, spinning remixes of recent hits like “Taki Taki.” His DJ set was stocked with the requisite drops, and he toyed with plenty of the knobs on his mixer. Somehow, his two-minute set made sense as the transition into the blood-pumping club anthem “Rodeo.”
Emotional Speeches at the End
I.M reminisced on the group’s first L.A. show at KCON LA four years ago. “It’s hard to describe my heart right now, but without you guys, we are nothing,” he said. “Let’s move to a higher level, and K-pop can do that.” Joohoney later encouraged Monbebes in English: “No matter who you are, where you come from, or who you love, I love each and every single one of you the same.”
Monsta X’s L.A. set list:
"Play It Cool"
"Myself" (Bazzi cover)
"I DO LOVE U"
"Who Do U Love?"
"By My Side"