Where was I? Ah, yes. Fighting for my life and the right to touch Zico’s hand (this one) in the pit in front of the stage.
My friend who was in the seated section overlooking the pit would later describe the scene as, “You know, like, in The Lion King when the hyenas cause that wildebeest stampede in the gorge and Simba is clinging to the tree branch for life while Mufasa looks down in horror? Like that.”
Except, in this analogy, the wildebeest are the fans, I am Simba, and Taeil (the hat guy) is Mufasa.
Okay, it wasn’t really so bad. It was so crowded, it was virtually impossible to get knocked to the ground. Really, it was as though we were all connected to each other, bits of cytoplasm moving as one amoebic cell, while secretly wishing the bitch in front would just die already so we could move closer to the nucleus that is Block B.
Why yes, I did just compare these seven Korean men to a basic necessity for biological survival. I do enjoy hyperbole, don’t you?
Anyway. The whole concert was a highly entertaining ball of fun, but in the effort of not having to summarize a three hour sexy-fest, I think, instead, I will only touch on two aspects of this experience that stood out to me the most. I would like to offer unto you a brief discussion of two solo performances during the concert, but for reasons mostly having nothing to do with the quality of the performances themselves.
Now, before I begin to casually poke fun at these guys, I would like to emphasize that, although my joking is in the context of the Block B concert, the source of my well-intentioned ridicule is essentially at the K-Pop industry itself, rather than this particular group or any of its members. They are simply a product of their working environment, and since five minutes of research is enough to give a glimpse of how heavily manufactured and formulaic the Korean pop industry is, it is certainly not my place to pass judgment on any of the artists working within. Even if they do things like this.
Ladies and gents, prepare thyselves for an exploration into the strange, yet highly entertaining world of K-Pop nonsense.
Around the halfway mark of the concert, Jaehyo (this one) performed a solo acoustic ballad, accompanied by a single, morose piano. I found this a touch odd, as Jaehyo is not known for his vocal ability….or rap ability….or dancing ability…but rather for being an ulzzang. What’s an ulzzang, you ask? Oh, I’m so excited to tell you what an ulzzang is. The word “ulzzang” in Korean literally means “best face”. An ulzzang is, in Korea, a professional selfie taker. To be a famous ulzzang in Korea is to be someone known for nothing more than being good looking and posting photographs of themselves on the internet. That’s right, folks, in Korea, your selfie ability can make you famous.
And it did, for one darling Ahn Jaehyo. His chief qualifications for being a member of Block B? Placing first on an MNET reality show called “Pretty Boys” and being a member of something called the “Bestnine School Ulzzang”. My research on the specifics behind the last one was inconclusive, but simply based upon the title, I hope you get my point.
Fortunately, he’s not a bad singer. Therefore, those three and a half minutes of my life were not so much horrifying for me to witness as they were reasonably pleasing to my ears and, very much, to my eyes. They were, apparently, horrifying for our dear Jaehyo, as it turns out that the backup band had made a ‘whoopsie’, and his performance was not, in fact, supposed to be only accompanied by a single, morose piano. Poor kid.
Last: Turnt Cookies
I am most excited to talk about this one. You see, although K-Pop groups typically release songs as a unit, on occasion one member will branch off and send a solo song, lonesome and bashful, into the universe. In the most recent case for Block B, it was the main rapper, Zico (this one), who took on a side project.
Now, after Zico debuted with Block B, he became associated with image concepts such as this, this….and this…..this…..this….and, oh hell, this, too.
K-Pop image concepts, man.
Before all that, though, he garnered a reputation as a pretty decent underground rapper. His image was different then. Swag. Streetwise. Hardcore. An affinity for sweets, particularly of the ‘cookie’ variety. Unafraid to take on the controversial issues. Don’t take nothin’ from nobody. One might even say, Zico was ‘tough’.
Dear, scarce readers, I present to you Zico’s single, “Tough Cookie“.
I showed my brother this video. May I present the final moment of the reaction video he sent me from the States:
Dramatic representation by one Stephen Colbert, as I’m not sure my brother wants his image plastered on the Internet.
First, dear reader, I implore you to watch the music video, for which Zico received a significant amount of backlash for his inclusion of the word “faggot” and culturally appropriating hip-hop style while simultaneously wearing a confederate flag on his sleeve, but not nearly enough appreciation for his ability to eat chocolate chip cookies with a grill the size of Seoul.
Now, Zico performed this single about making other rappers piss themselves with his raw talent at this concert open to ages 8 and up, and I was lucky enough to bear witness to it.
Allow me to take you on a visual journey, if I may.
Picture Zico, this man, in all of his grilled glory, hopping about the stage as he spits sweet rhymes about how his “frequency invades your erogenous zones”. That’s all well and good, but it’s really the animation behind him, on the giant screen display, that places the cherry atop this magnificent cookie sundae.
Imagine, if you will, Cookie Monster.
Now, imagine Cookie Monster blown up to the size of, I don’t know, Donald Trump’s ego.
Next, add the following:
-One pistol for each fuzzy blue hand
Now that you know Cookie Monster’s true form, picture him, chains shaking as he fires round after round into the air, in cadence to Zico’s sick flow, while grinning maniacally through his diamond-encrusted grill as dollar signs float through the air around him.
Y’all. I have scoured the internet for evidence of this. I have Googled. I have Tumbled. Navered. Daumed. Youtubed. Twittered. And I have come away fruitless and with the assumption that the gods above have decided that this was a gift so glorious, so marvelous, so….tough, that only the selected thousands attending the concert should bear witness to it. I can only hope that I have given you an adequate approximation of the wondrous sight I was privileged enough to behold.
Overall, 10/10 would repeat. K-Pop concerts are fun, cheesy times when it’s okay to ‘squee’ over your bias and nobody will judge you for it…except, of course, your friends who are also at the concert but think your bias is stupid.