So, really, how big are K-pop sensations BIGBANG? The indomitable boy band has been covered extensively in the media for international chart success (their Korean “Alive” EP charted on the Billboard 200), YouTube clicks (over half a billion official views) and scandals (usually a career killer in Korea). But, perhaps, the stats from their first world tour speaks loudest.
BIGBANG has seemingly locked down their title as one of K-pop’s reigning megastars with one of the highest-grossing tours in K-pop history. The five members–G-Dragon, T.O.P., Taeyang, Seungri and Daesung — embarked their very first, world tour, “BIGBANG Alive Galaxy Tour,” on March 2, 2012.
The outing hit markets in 24 cities of 12 countries for a total of 48 shows (19 shows in Japan, six in South Korea, four in the U.S., three each in China and Hong Kong, two each in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and the U.K. and one each in The Philippines, Malaysia and Peru). In 10 months time, the group traveled 89,000 miles through the Americas, Europe and Asia.
The tour played arenas, domes and stadiums across the globe, wowing an estimated 800,000 fans with a large-scale, over-the-top production featuring bedazzled LED stages, stage props and costumes. At their East Coast stop, Billboard spent time with the boys backstage and got a sense of the massive production.
BIGBANG sold out tickets for each original show and had to add additional dates due to high demand in places like New Jersey, California and Peru; an incredible feat for their first time performing outside of Asia. In Peru, BIGBANG caused quite the pandemonium. The fans (know as VIPs) that have gathered weren’t just Peruvian locals; some traveled all the way from Brazil, Ecuador, Columbia, and South American countries.
Reports said thousands of fans and local press waited outside of their hotels and pitched tents more than a week before the actual concert that was held Nov. 14.
BIGBANG completed the tour with an emotional three-day finale concert in Seoul at the end of January.
After successfully concluding the tour, BIGBANG found the time to regroup and talk to Billboard for an exclusive Q&A.
Billboard: Hello BIGBANG! Congratulations on completing such a long and successful tour! How does it feel now that it has come to a close?
BIGBANG: We realized through this world tour that we really shine when we are on stage together. We are the most passionate when performing BIGBANG music. It was a new feeling for us to perform in so many different countries. We were really excited.
You hit so many different countries, visiting four different continents. Can you tell us some of your experiences in the different countries?
In Peru, we couldn’t believe that there were thousands of fans lined up at the airport, hotel and concert venue. They were outside singing our songs! We thought we were in an amusement park while we were resting in our rooms because of all the screaming. We are extremely thankful to all the fans. It is an amazing feeling to be so welcomed.
For the concert in New Jersey, due to the storm (a week after Hurricane Sandy), we had to change our flight three times and eventually get on the last flight available. 30 minutes before landing, the pilot announced that we would be rerouted to Buffalo because JFK Airport conditions were unsafe. This sent our staff into a panic because we were only 14 or so hours away from the concert. Even if we were somehow to get on a bus, it would get us to the concert venue just in time to get on stage and perform. Luckily, after we landed, there was a 50% chance that we could take off again and head toward JFK. After about an hour of anxiously waiting, we took off to JFK. The landing was very turbulent and scary but we landed safely and all of the passengers applauded the flight crew. We were concerned if people could actually come and see us perform. After seeing the venue packed with people and seeing all of our fans that day it really touched our hearts.
So many of your shows sold out so quickly, you needed to add more dates to satisfy all the fans. What is your reaction to such a big, global response?
It’s clear that not only in Asia, but that many people from countries across the globe love BIGBANG and K-pop. We were so proud that many fans came to see our concerts. More shows were being added because the original dates were selling out so quickly. When we heard that news, that’s when we realized that we were actually on a full-scale world tour.
Did any one country’s fans stick out to you?
Actually, it’s hard to pick one country because it was our first time visiting many of these countries. No matter how big or small the concert was, we were happy to meet our fans from all over the world and to feel their energy.
Do you guys have any touring rituals, funny stories, or backstage habits that you’d like to share?
Usually, when we finish a song, the stage goes dark, and it becomes chaos because everyone sprints backstage for wardrobe change. But when Seungri’s solo stage comes up, we all watch from the sideline. When the sounds of Seungri’s helicopter and laser gun appear, we all stop from what we are doing to watch his performance. What can we say!? Seungri is very cute and entertaining! In the dressing room, we talk and fool around with each other. We are all very talkative and can talk all night long.
What was the most memorable part of the show itself? Do you have favorite songs to perform?
What impresses us the most is that music fans across the globe can dance and have fun together regardless of the language or cultural background. It’s hard to pick one song we love because all the songs are special to us, but when our overseas fans sing “Haru Haru” together, it’s really heartwarming.
What was it like working with choreographer Lauriann Gibson?
We heard that this was Laurieann Gibson’s first collaboration with an Asian artist. She was so passionate while thinking of ideas for our concert that she would go without taking a break to eat! We felt like we could learn a lot from her since she’s worked with such great musicians. Laurieann as well the lighting, band, and stage design crew, helped us bring our music to life and improve the experience by 120%.
What else is next for the BIGBANG members in 2013?
2013 will be a period for each individual member’s personal growth. G-Dragon will release a new solo album and hold a solo concert in Korea and Japan. Taeyang is also getting ready for his new solo album. TOP just finished shooting his feature film “Alumni” and is waiting for it to be released this year. Daesung will release his solo album in Japan at the end of February and debut in Japan. Seungri will continue to work on Korean and Japan TV dramas to keep his fans happy!
Daesung, what can you tell us about your Japan solo album?
My Japanese debut album titled “D’scover” is comprised of remakes of classic Japanese pop songs. You could expect heart-warming, powerful and upbeat songs on this new album. It was challenging to work simultaneously on the world tour and solo album, but when I look at the final product, I am thankful for my team that made it possible.
G-Dragon you recently gave a track in English to Nicola Formichetti for Paris Fashion Week. Will you or BIGBANG be releasing music in English anytime soon?
We believe that anything and everything is possible regardless if it’s a domestic or international project. If we are ready and the timing is right, we would like to hope and think that English songs would be released in the future.
Do you guys have any other exciting collaborations or surprises coming?
G-Dragon, Daesung, Taeyang will all release their new songs through solo albums. Also, if we could share positive energy with other artists and do something creative together then you will see more collaboration. Fans will have to stay tuned and see what comes out in the future. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a surprise!
Is there anything else you would like to add or give a message to your fans worldwide?
The “2012 BIGBANG Alive Galaxy Tour” was a memorable experience to meet with fans across the globe. We would like to continue visiting various countries around the world and to meet every BIGBANG fan out there. In order to do that, we have to constantly evolve and challenge ourselves and grow as artists. We hope that all of you will support for us.