A sunny Saturday brought with it the convention portion of KCON 2017 NY, but the bright stars that performed that night (June 25) was the real attraction for thousands of K-pop fans, who spent this weekend at New Jersey’s Prudential Center attending the Korean culture festival.
After opening performances from K-pop cover violinist JunCurryAhn and dance crew 1Million, the second and final night of this year’s east coast leg of KCON USA presented by Toyota kicked off in a big way.
Unlike the previous night’s five acts, the second KCON 2017 NY concert had four K-pop groups in the lineup — TWICE, CNBLUE, NCT 127, and UP10TION — which allowed things to start off on a bit of an atypical note: The nine women of TWICE, the latest in a string of popular girl groups created by J.Y. Park (Park Jinyoung), paid homage to their producer.
After CNBLUE’s lead vocalist Jung Yonghwa and bassist Lee Jungshin introduced the event, the crowd erupted in cheers as TWICE’s Tzuyu, Nayeon, Sana, and Momo appeared to cover miss A’s “Bad Girl Good Girl.” The group’s remaining members, Mina, Chayeon, Dahyun, Jihyo, and Jungyeon, swapped places with the foursome to lead the crowd in the iconic clapping hand choreography of Wonder Girls’ “Nobody.” TWICE closed out the night’s opening set with a performance of Park’s 1998 funk classic, “Honey.”
After the ladies of TWICE departed from their opening set, UP10TION — performing as a nonet while one member is on hiatus — took to the stage with their yet-to-be-released new song, the summery, rhythmic house track “Runner.” The boy band followed that up with some of their older releases, including their propulsive 2015 debut single “So Dangerous” and last year’s upbeat dance tracks, “Attention” and “White Night.” Though their set was shorter than some others, UP10TION returned after NCT 127’s following set to show off their softer side with a New York City-oriented performance of ABBA’s “Honey Honey,” based on the song’s version from the Broadway musical Mamma Mia.
Roars of applause greeted the next performers, rookie boy band NCT 127. A part of SM Entertainment’s larger NCT project group, 127’s nine members stormed onstage with their debut track, the experimental “Fire Truck.” After quick introductions, the team jumped away from their singles and performed the brassy, breezy “Good Thing,” off January’s Limitless EP, and the synthy “0 Mile” from their recently released Cherry Bomb EP. Despite being the youngest act of the night, NCT 127’s approval from the crowd couldn’t be denied as each beat brought about screams from the crowd; the show of support rivaled that which greeted then-less-established acts at previous KCONs that preceded bright futures, like the response to BTS at KCON LA in 2014 foreshadowing the group’s impending popularity.
NCT 127 took a breather from their aggressively fun performances with a short segment where members Taeil and Doyoung serenaded an audience member. They closed their performance with the hip-hop-heavy single “Cherry Bomb,” which they released only days before heading to KCON NY.
The already-hyped atmosphere of the Prudential Center jumped up a degree when TWICE returned to stage. The K-pop It girl group of the moment, the team performed their hit songs “Signal,” “Cheer Up” and “TT” as concertgoers throughout the stadium rose to their feet and mimicked each song’s choreography. After the third song, TWICE chatted with the fans and posed for photos, so that the KCON audience members could take their own pictures of the now-iconic Korean act. They ended thing with the lively bubblegum pop track “Knock Knock,” released in February.
KCON NY 2017 came to an end with CNBLUE, one of Korea’s most prominent pop-rock bands. Their first performance on the east coast since 2014, the quartet — Yonghwa, Jungshin, guitarist and vocalist Lee Jonghyun, and drummer Kang Minhyuk — impressed with this year’s synth-rock track “Between Us,” before jumping into renditions of “Cinderella” and “You’re So Fine.” The ever-charismatic Yonghwa won over the crowd in between songs with a quick chat, and then ended the set, and KCON, with “Can’t Stop” and “Love Light.”
Clocking in at under two hours, the second night’s show of KCON NY 2017 was short and sweet, a night for the K-pop fans in attendance to talk about for weeks, if not months, to come.