Although Calgary doesn’t often play host to Kpop acts, the increasing interest in Korean music among Canadians is bringing more and more groups to our sprawling country. Recently, the five members of A.C.E paid us a particular honor by doing a Canada-specific tour and coming to Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary. I knew that I had to be there!
A.C.E debuted in 2017 and consists of members Jun, Donghun, Wow, Byeongkwan, and Chan. A friend of mine introduced me to their music last year, but it wasn’t until they released their recent single Under Cover that I truly began to notice this young, up and coming group.
I happened to be in Korea when I heard that A.C.E was planning to come to Calgary, so I had to wait a little while to check for tickets, but thankfully there were still some available when I got home. Compared to some of my ticketing experiences (see this post, for example), it was refreshingly easy.
On July 6th my friend and I eagerly made our way to the University of Calgary and joined the line of fans waiting in MacEwan Hall. The atmosphere was bright and bubbly, with people picking up their merch orders, chatting about Kpop groups, and, if they had bought VIP, heading to the front to gather together. Some thoughtful fans had prepared a banner event, and had printed out hundreds of banners which said “We will always be on A.C.E’s side” for everyone to hold up during the song If You Heard. I had to look around for a while to find them, but once I did I was delighted to take a few back to my section of the line.
Eventually they began to let us in and we headed upstairs to the Ballroom. It was a perfect space for the size of the crowd, since you could see the stage well from all areas and could either press up close or stand back with a bit of room depending on your preference. We settled about two-thirds back and enjoyed the blasting of Take Me Higher from the speakers – until we realized that they were only going to play Take Me Higher, on repeat, at which point we had to laugh.
After about six or seven loops of the song, they finally dimmed the lights and the announcer teased that A.C.E would be coming out soon. Before we knew it, they were there in front of us. They started with a portion of Under Cover and transitioned into a stunningly-shot video to let the boys catch their breath before they said hello. Thanks to a translator, A.C.E was able to express themselves freely (with one hiccup, but more on that later). It seemed that they were just as excited as we were to be together for the evening.
It was a delight to watch them perform their high-energy choreo so closely, and with such amazing precision. From powerful songs to soft ballads, A.C.E proved their talent and love of the stage over the course of the evening. Fans cheered loudly for them as they hyped us up during Do It Like Me, and we were all touched to see the complete version of 5tar, a song that they first released while Chan was away promoting as part of the temporary group UNB and then re-released upon his return. We were also fully ready to see Take Me Higher in person, even after hearing the recording so many times earlier on.
In between songs they included some fun, playful behind-the-scenes video clips, such as one where Byeongkwan walked around the dorm and talked to each member to see what they were up to, or another where they each dressed up for a special concept. Since they are still a fairly new group with a small discography, they also did some duo stages and a couple of cover songs, which they excelled at.
During one of their ment (sharing/talking time) sections, Donghun told the crowd that he had taken out his in-ear for this concert and that he hadn’t been able to hear the music, but because we were singing loud and clear he had followed us instead and had been able to perform well. The translator accidentally said this part backwards – which is easy to do, since the sentence structure in Korean is opposite – but Byeongkwan was quick to speak up and correct the mistake in English. He later shared that he had lived in Canada briefly as an elementary school student, and was always glad to return.
Whether during the performances or the ments, I quickly learned that A.C.E is a group that thrives in a concert environment – and also that they are overflowing with positivity! Their smiles were plenty and frequent, and they interacted with fans as much as they could, waving and making hearts and laughing along with us.
All too soon, they were saying their final heartfelt words, thanking us for our fervent participation as an audience and promising to come back again in the future. When they left the stage, some fans near me wondered aloud if they were going to have an encore or not, but I knew they still had a couple of songs to share, and we cheered them loudly until they returned. During the encore, I was especially happy to see Cactus and the full version of Under Cover, two of my favorite A.C.E songs.
It was the perfect ending to the evening, and though I was sad to see them leave the stage, I felt thankful for all that they had shown us. I arrived at the concert as someone merely interested in their music and left as an avid fan, impressed by the absolute joy of their performance.
Please check out the amazing A.C.E below:
Categories: KOREA-CANADA BLOG 2018