That’s the problem with K-pop. At first, you are not much of a fan. Then you start watching some videos online. Next thing you know, you are standing in line for hours at the Air Canada Center with other crazy fans to see one of your favourite Korean star.
On July 30th, G-Dragon, the lead singer of a very popular K-pop band called BIGBANG, visited his Canadian fans as part of his Act III M.O.T.T.E. (Moment of Truth the End) solo world tour. And guess what? I was among them.
For those newbies out there, G-Dragon is one of the most influential Korean artist in the music industry. You may have seen him and his eccentric hairstyles in numerous BIGBANG music videos, at the World Music Awards, or as a brand ambassador for Chanel. G-Dragon sings, raps, dances, writes and produces songs, and is a fashion icon. And he’s not even 30.
So, I lined up with a bunch of 20 something years old wearing plastic crowns and matching t-shirts to celebrate their idol’s venue. The wait was long, my lower back and legs hurt, but in the end, G-Dragon made it all worth it.
I was lucky enough to attend the sound check, which gave us a foretaste of the show to come. G-Dragon appeared wearing a hat and a mask covering his entire face. After singing some lines and mumbling a few words, he was out to get ready for the night.
Two hours later, my patience paid off, as GD came back with all his bling and glam for an electrifying performance. Fans cheered as he arrived onstage dressed in bright red, matching his brand new album. GD warmed up the room with his popular hit Heartbreaker, followed by Breathe and A Boy. Korean or not, fans sang along.
The music and choreographies with the crew were on point, but GD didn’t seem as playful as he used to be. With lyrics like I need somebody I ain’t got nobody, his new songs revealed a darker side of his success, a lonelier and angrier persona. You cannot help but feel a little sorry for those young artists living under so much pressure. Images of operation tables and tombs projected onstage as well as blood covered drapes created the perfect decor for what was to come.
What’s real? What’s fake? Who am I? I don’t know
It is not a coincidence if his new EP is called Kwon Ji-yong, the singer’s real name. During a heart-to-heart conversation with the fans about the future of his artist image, GD announced his desire to show us his true self and to continue his career as Kwon Ji-yong. He shared is fear to leave all that bling behind and wondered if he would still be able to shine. Of course, fans had their answer ready!
All in all, I personally preferred the last part of the show. After his announcement, Ji-yong seemed more relaxed and authentic, and interacted more with the crowd. The artist even got off stage to sing a last ballad to the fans during the encore.
It turns out this show was more about a rebirth than an end, as the name of the tour suggests. Something tells me this promising young man has a lot of new projects in store. Maybe after a well-deserved break, that is.