Kpop: The Best Dances Of The Time? 2010.

I fell in love with Kpop in 2009, which was arguably the best year ever for Kpop. It was a year of so many songs that later became classics. And of some which changed the face and feel of Kpop forever. So a look at any year after that is going to be a bit of a letdown. However 2010 was still a year of some great songs and some still recognizable dances. Show someone some of these dances and they can instantly tell you the artist and song.

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It was also a year when Kpop had much more variety. There were bands such as CNBlue and FT Island, ballad groups like 2AM and 4Men, as well as a lot of soloists singing everything from OSTs to Hip Hop. There was a lot of experimentation with style and format too which led to some fantastic girl groups who created girl power ‘anthems’ that have since become iconic.

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It was also a time when I still followed girl groups as well as the guys.

Not all my favorite songs from 2010 fit this title of ‘Best Dances Of The Time’ but here are some of my choices that do. With most of these the dance helps make the song a ‘package’ of all that’s wonderful about Kpop.

I’ll start with Hyuna who has been selling her sex appeal in a powerful fashion for years. Her first solo song ‘Change’ was flagged as being ‘inappropriate to minors’ which didn’t seem to bother her as she is still pushing boundaries to this day.

Another 2010 song that may surprise some of you new to Kpop is Psy’s song Right Now. Released 2 years before Gangnam Style, it too was banned from those under 19+ although the ban in his case was for an ‘obscene lyric’. Psy had already been showcasing his nonconformity for years in Korea before he became a worldwide phenomenon and Right Now helps you understand that Gangnam Style really just didn’t appear out of ‘nowhere’.

Miss A debuted in 2010 as JYP’s new girl group. Now sometimes just known as the stepping stone for Suzy, who has gone on to acting and success as a product endorser, as well as having a solo career as a singer, Miss A was a fun and entertaining group. With the right support they could have been really successful. Bad Girl, Good Girl had some great lyrics about judging someone by their looks.

Infinite was well known for their dancing and if you look at their MVs you can see moves that seem familiar. It’s because some of their moves were improved upon by succeeding generations of Kpop groups and are still around today. Come Back was perhaps not their best song ever, but the dance helped the audience engage with this one.

One can’t talk about 2010 without a mention of Girl’s Generation. (aka SNSD) Although they debuted back in 2007, it wasn’t until 2009/10 that they became really popular with a slew of hit songs that earned them the label “The Nation’s Girl Group.” While Hoot was perhaps not their most famous song of 2010 people fell in love with the arrow shooting part of the dance and you could see people copying it on all the variety shows.

One also has to mention SNSD’s brother group, Super Junior. Formed way back in 2005 they were an even larger group than SNSD, with 13 members at their peak. They too hit their stride in 2009 and have continued ever since, albeit with different lineups of members. I personally enjoyed Bonamana which used some of Michael Jackson’s moves in their choreography.

One also can’t miss mentioning perhaps the best ever female Kpop group 2ne1. 2010 was a good year for them with multiple hits and awards, including Mnet’s ‘Artist of the Year’ award. While back then a practice video was just that, a video of them practicing, it still shows their uniqueness and personalities. Can’t Nobody was also released in an English version.

Showing their dance practice, and not those of the other mentioned groups is perhaps a tad unfair, so here is their Korean version, and English version. Just look at those fabulous outfits.

At lastly for today perhaps the best and most iconic Kpop MV song and dance and talent combination MV of 2010 there is Lucifer by SHINee.

It basically boils down to the fact that some song/dance combinations are ‘forever famous’ and for 2010 that is probably this song. (And their 2009 Ring Ding Dong may have won that title for that year too.) More than any other group SHINee encapsulates all the many facets that make Kpop so enjoyable to watch as well as to listen to. The dance, the clothes, the visuals all come together with the music and lyrics to create the ultimate Kpop experience. Seeing them all perform live was one of the highlights of my concert going resume.

Do you have a favorite Kpop ‘dance’ MV from 2010? One where the choreography is perhaps as important as the song itself.

Have a great day everyone.

All photo and video credits belong to original owners. Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation.

You may also enjoy Kpop: The Best Dances Of The Time? Part 1 (2009),   Like Dance? Watch Kpop,  and  SHINee World V Tour in Dallas. 2017.

 

Astro: The 2nd Astroroad Tour 2019.

2019 has already been a very busy year for Texas Kpop fans. This week I travelled up to Dallas to see two different concerts. Ateez was earlier in the week, while on Thursday I attended the Astro concert.

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Although both groups are ‘Kpop’ there were some striking differences between them, including the venues and the tour promoters that they used. After the overcrowded, dark, and standing only venue, which also was somewhat disorganized, for the Ateez concert it was wonderful to experience the well run Astro concert. Even though one rarely sits down at a Kpop concert the seats themselves act as barriers to being pushed and crowded. And that also means a better view for everyone.

 

Playing on the themes of starlight and the cosmos, the six young men burst onto the stage all sparkly and bright in their stylish outfits.

 

Astro made their debut in 2016 and is made up of members Jin Jin, MJ, Cha Eun Woo, Moonbin, Rocky, and Yoon San Ha. They are under Fantagio Entertainment, and they won a ‘Rookie of the Year’ award in 2016.

 

The members are all extremely talented and very good looking, each with a charm of their own. Each had their loyal fans in the audience but they all made sure to acknowledge all the fans, including those way up at the back.

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After both Astro and their Aroha ( name of their fans ) warmed up after the introductory songs, the group paused to take off jackets and to make their opening greetings and introductions. I will say that from start to finish they seemed very happy to be in Dallas.

 

They only released their first studio album, All Light, this past January and managed to get the number 1 spot on the Korean charts and 6th on the Worldwide chart. But that does not mean that they didn’t have a large selection of songs as they have released numerous EPs. During the course of the evening they sang all their most popular songs as well as some lesser known ones. It was hard to choose a favorite, but mine was probably Crazy, Sexy, Cool.

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There were multiple outfit changes throughout the show, with them becoming more casual and comfortable as the evening progressed. They looked remarkably good dressed in all white, quite dashing in fact. And yet a little later they were cute and adorable with their animal outfits.

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These 6 young men have a pleasant, friendly appeal that easily worms its way into your heart. There really is nothing about them that isn’t nice. That in no way means that they don’t have sex appeal. Trust me, they have plenty of that. It’s just that their music is cheerful and fun, and it makes you want to dance along.

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Astro has that wonderful ability to make you feel more cheerful after listening to their music. You feel better and you feel a smile coming out for no real reason except it feels good.

 

Both Jin Jin and Cha Eun Woo made good use of their English skills while the others mostly relied on an off stage translator. Fortunately everyone quieted down enough for us to hear what each member said.

 

Apparently they liked Dallas, ate well, and thought the weather was lovely. At one point Eun Woo told us that he had woken up at 7:00am and when he looked out over the skyline of Dallas he could see both the sun rising and the super moon in the sky at the same time. He was so impressed he even left the hotel and went out for a walk.

 

Yoon San Ha had a birthday cake brought on stage for him, and he said he was very happy to finally be 20.

 

Although they were all confident and comfortable on stage from the first moments of the evening, it did seem that they became relaxed as the evening progressed. They laughed and joked around with each other. It was nice to see them interact with each other.

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The end came all too soon, even though they warned us and we knew it was coming. They spent quite a bit of time thanking us and saying how much their Aroha meant to them. They also said they would try to come back again.

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It was a really nice concert and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I do have 2 complaints. One please consider other fans when you decide to wear tall headbands, or have large fan signs. My photos are only showing part of the group in many shots because I couldn’t see through the headband someone was wearing.mvimg_20190321_185525

Second, the tour promoters pushed us through the Hi Touch so fast I literally didn’t even have time to say ‘Thank You’. I mean I’ve been through a LOT of Hi Touch lines and only one other was as fast as this. So please give us enough time to at least make eye contact.

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Astro held a great and very enjoyable concert and I would really recommend you go see them if you ever get the chance.

Have a great day everyone.

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All photo credits to Debora Marzec. Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation.

You may also enjoy Kpop Credentials and The KpopJacket: In Photos.

 

Ateez: The Expedition Tour In Dallas.

A sunny spring Sunday saw me set forth to venture north to the Dallas area. The route along the infamous I 35 was bad as usual with much of the time spent at a crawl. Fortunately I got to the Granada Theatre with plenty of time to spare, plus I managed to snag one of the last parking spaces in the nearest lot.

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Riding high on my good fortune I tried to work out the line number entrance order. My Music Taste had given fans numbers and so we each had to find our correct place in line. It was a bit messed up but eventually we got into the right order. I lucked out and ended up with some friendly line buddies.

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Although our numbers were in the low 100’s the pit had really started to fill in so we got front row on the second tier which helped out those of us on the shorter side.

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The crowd was intense, and the venue was filled to maximum capacity, which may not have been a great idea as many people ended up with a poor or even no view. Texas Kpop fans have a reputation for being among the most fervent, yet they still retain their manners. People mostly kept to the line number system and were well behaved, unlike the debacle at the California stop where Ateez had to leave the stage until the fans calmed down. I even heard that a couple of fans passed out or were hurt.

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The Dallas fans sure were loud though. You can hear them in the background of the VLive show they did from backstage. It was a little surreal watching the live video on our phones knowing they were such a short distance away from us.

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I just going to comment here for those who follow me, yes I finally got a new phone so got some fairly decent photos………but apparently I still need a bit of practice using it! So all the photos aren’t necessarily in order I just chose to use some I liked.

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The show was one of the loudest I’ve ever been to, which is kinda ironic as the microphones didn’t work for a good part of the evening. You could see the boys getting frustrated when their mikes went out. The fans were so happy to be there they took it in their stride, but that definitely needs to be worked on.

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Ateez is a new group, as in really new. They made their debut in late October 2018 and they are already on a sold out world tour. They are young, talented and cute, but more than that they have that ‘spark’ or ‘je ne sais quoi’.

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That indescribable something that sets them apart is evident as soon as they start performing. It obviously doesn’t hurt that they are affable, and so very likable when they speak, for example one being adorably shy, while another looks on bemused. But in the time it takes to blink they turn on their charismatic charm, and a different performance persona emerges.

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They were incredibly enthusiastic about their performance, with dance moves sharp enough cut you. For me their dance and choreography ranks right up there with some of their ‘sunbaenim’. Seeing them perform live was captivating, maybe even mesmerizing. They were fierce, and dynamic, and powerful. They definitely showed off their masculine charms.

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Ateez is made up of eight members, Hongjoong, Seonghwa, Yunho, Yeosang, San, Mingi, Wooyoung, and Jongho the apple breaking phenom. They were all born in 1998 and 1999 except for the ‘maknae’ who was born in 2,000.  So they are both new and young, very young, to have a sold out world tour.

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Being new meant that they didn’t have enough songs for a full concert of singing, but that didn’t stop the fans from enjoying every moment of the evening. The breaks between sets were filled with the boys interacting with the audience, answering questions and playing games like the random play dance.

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The performances of their four most popular songs, Treasure, Pirate King, Say My Name, and Hala Hala almost brought the house down, literally. The screams and yells shook the rafters. The only time the noise level was louder was when the fans wanted the them to yell, ‘Yee Haw’.

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Some things I was somewhat surprised by; the intensity of the fans, the number of people they allowed for the hi touch (about 500), the choice of venue, (I like the Granada Theatre, but not when they over pack it, Ateez could have sold out a bigger venue), and how relaxed the boys were. I really believed them when they said they like Dallas, and they seemed genuinely happy to be sharing the evening with us. They told us they would come back and I know there’s a lot of fans determined to be in the audience when they do.

If you get the chance I highly recommend you go check them out.

Have a great day everyone.

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All photo credits to me, except for last one which their staff member took. Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation.

 

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The American Ahjummas……….don’t mess with them! Having lunch before the concert.

 

You may also enjoy Winner Everywhere Tour In Dallas 2019, My favorite Kdramas of 2018, and 2018 Teen Top Night in Texas.

 

Great Night Of Networking At The Korea Spotlight Industry Party @SXSW.

Just a quick post before heading up to Dallas for the Ateez and then the Astro concerts later this week. I wanted to make sure I to said what a fantastic and informative time I had at the Korea Spotlight Industry Party. We all know that sometimes these ‘networking’ things can be a bit on the dull side, but this was anything but. Packed from the beginning with a mini stage show by three of the Korean music groups that would be performing later that night at the Moody Theater it never let up.  ( Kirara, XXX, & Jambinai.)

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The party was held at Friend’s Bar on the famous 6th Street in downtown Austin.  Known as the Live Music Capital of the World Austin hosts SXSW, a mega music and technology festival every year which closes down the city center as thousands of people flock in from all over the world.  The venue was packed with people from all aspects of the music scene, from fans ( well those with SXSW Music Badges and wristbands ) to CEO’s and others in the management side of the business.

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Our hosts, Kocca, and MU:CON, gave out free drink coupons and put on a wonderful spread of Korean/Austin fusion food.

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The Kpopjacket even received a bit of attention from photographers.

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And just as the party was beginning to wind down I got a chance to have a brief chat with Kirara one of the Korea Spotlight artists.

 

All in all a great party, where I met and spoke with so many interesting and fun people. Learned lots of things. Plus lots of new avenues to explore.

Thank you to Kocca and MU:CON for upping their game each year, and for providing such a great venue for people to meet and share ideas and learn from each other. Thanks also to my friend, and photographer, who not only takes some great photos but who also holds my purse, phone, or drink. Thanks Sebastian.

Have a great day everyone.

All photo credits to Sebastian Gallardo and myself. Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation.

You may also enjoy Kpop @SXSW: An Overview, and Winner: Everywhere Tour In Dallas.

 

How Many Ways Can You Watch A Kpop Group Dance?

The most obvious way is no doubt on their music video,

or maybe on a music show,

or a dance practice video.

Sometimes they do a double speed version,

or even a ‘roller-coaster’ version where the song speeds up and slows down.

Recently we’ve seen the relay dance become popular.

Or how about in costume.

A boyfriend/close up version was popular for a while.

And apparently there something called a ‘Beagle’ version.

Or you can even watch classic Kpop dances as part of Korean variety show games.

Of course we would all probably like to watch our favorites front row center at a live performance. If we can’t be there in person at least we can watch fancams of the show.

 

Have a great day everyone.

All photo and video credits to original owners.

You may also enjoy Like Dance? Watch Kpop, and A Look At Some Of My Favorite Dance Practice Videos.

Korea Spotlight @SXSW 2019: Preview.

The excitement of Kpop fans in Texas is almost palpable this week, that along with the Live Oak pollen. (Hint if you have allergies bring your meds with you.) That’s mostly because the Korea Spotlight Showcase @SXSW is returning March 13th for its 7th year in an even bigger and better venue. In fact it is the same venue where the famous Austin City Limits music show is recorded for TV. ACL is the longest running music show on American TV, and multiple famous artists have performed there to now include some from Korea. (There’s also concerts by Ateez and Astro this month in Dallas.)

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But this week the vibe and feeling will be completely different as Korean artists from different genres will take to the stage to showcase that Korea has a wide range of talented artists covering everything from rock, to Hip-Hop to electronic music and more. Of course the widely popular Kpop will also be featured as currently it seems like it is the face of Korean music around the world.

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I’ve been to a few of the previous showcases, but I think this might be the first time there will be traditional Korean instruments, a ‘haegeum’ and a ‘geomungo’, on stage. But don’t expect anything traditional about what will be played on them. Jambinai, who played at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, has created an interesting style by combining both modern and traditional sounds. I won’t spoil your anticipation, but if you’re a rock music fan you might have a new group to add to list. https://www.youtube.com/jambinaiofficial 

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XXX has been called ‘an alternative to Korean Hip-Hop music’, except they are Korean and they are Hip-Hop, so just who are they? They’ve basically said that they were “invited to the party, but chose their own seat at the table” meaning that they are carving their own way and not following the current Hip-Hop trends. This has led to them being noticed, and praised, by both Billboard and Pitchfork. They even won an award at the 16th Korea Music Awards. listen @

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Kirara will be the third artist to be performing and introducing us to her unique and fun style of electronic music. Sounding unlike others in the genre her music is both simple and complex, leading the listener to want to dance along. Described by Lemon Wire as “South Korean electronic polyrhythms” it is easy to be drawn into her musical world and believe her mantra that “Kirara is Pretty and Strong.” She is a prolific producer/performer and has won awards and been interviewed by multiple music magazines and web pages. She once said it was her dream to go to SXSW and now she’ll be here. Welcome Kirara, and I hope you have a great time.

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Hitchhiker is no stranger to SXSW having held his debut live performance here in 2015 and now he’s back. Known for his shiny spacesuit and electronic music he’s popular at music festivals around the world. Unknown to some he is also a music producer and has worked on songs by multiple Kpop groups and artists. Perhaps that’s why the beats and echoes of so many musical genres can be heard during one of his performances. 

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Chung Ha doesn’t need much of an introduction to the fans of wildly popular Produce 1.0.1 a Kpop survival show, as she finished in 4th place and went on to debut with the 1.0.1. group in 2016. she debuted as a soloist in 2017 and has been on the rise ever since. She has won numerous awards including Best Dance Performance-Solo at the 20th Mnet Asian Music Awards. Somewhat of a local, she lived in Dallas for 8 years, this will be her first time performing at SXSW. You can expect a dynamic performance by “the best Kpop female idol ever” and make your own assessment. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

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As a multi-fan with a very long list of groups I follow it is hard to rank them, but if I had to do so iKON would be near the top every time. Somewhat irreverent and liking to push boundaries they had a bit of a problematic image at the beginning of their career, however, lately they’ve become the darlings of Korea. Whilst I liked their earlier image with Rhythm Ta and Dumb & Dumber  their careers really hit the jackpot with Love Scenario which is more of a sing along type of song. It stands at over 270 million views on Youtube and became really popular with school children in Korea to the point that schools actually banned the song, not because of lyrics or anything, just because the teachers were going crazy hearing all the time! To thank the kids iKON held a children’s event which was really cute.Image result for ikon picnic in hangang park

iKON has incredible stage presence and a great repertoire of songs so every person at the Korea Spotlight @SXSW 2019 is sure to leave as an iKONic.

Please note that the Korea Spotlight @SXSW and many other Korean and Kpop related events around the World would not take place without the help and support of KOCCA, The Korean Creative Content Agency. I, and I’m sure all of you, thank them.

Have a great day everyone.

All photo credits go to original owners.

 

 

 

Kpop @ SXSW: An Overview.

Kpop has been a growing force at SXSW year by year, and this maybe its biggest year ever. I’ve attended their Kpop events in 2015, 17 and 18 and have been amazed at its growth so I thought a quick overview might be in order.

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South by Southwest, SXWS, or “South-by” when speaking, is a music, film, and interactive media festival that also has conferences, panels, and gaming with lots of parties thrown in for good measure. Being held in Austin, Texas there’s also lots of great food, and of course all the drinking you could want on the infamous 6th street.

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Starting in 1987 SXSW has grown by leaps and bounds, each year including more and more diverse aspects of popular culture as new technologies emerge. It usually runs for about ten days and closes down parts of the center of Austin, the capital city of Texas. SXSW is the largest music festival with this format in the world, and each year it showcases over 2,000 artists from all around the globe performing almost every type of music you can imagine. The list of artists who have performed at SXSW includes some of the best musicians in the world. The interactive part, which is focused on emerging tech, is probably the biggest event of its kind in the world. An ‘audience’ of over 300,000 people are expected to attend the festival.

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Since many of the artists have to pay their own way many must hold fundraisers and find innovative ways to get to SXSW to actually perform. Maybe one of the first Korean acts was YB back in 2007, and in the following years there were other Korean performers who made their own way to SXSW to showcase their music.

Over the years there have also been occasional panels and speakers covering Kpop and Korean music. For 2019 the general manager of SM Entertainment Chris Lee will talk about “The True Value Of Kpop.” 

Image result for seoulsonicSeoulsonic, an annual tour of Korean indie and alt-rock bands which made stops at SXSW starting in 2011 was an effort by Bernie Cho and KOCCA to introduce different Korean music genres to the west. Cho was quoted as saying in a Korea Herald Interview from 2015 “The K-music mystique is that it is unique, innovative and new. And the diversity in genres is definitely the ace card for promoting Korean music overseas.” But Seoulsonic was not particularly interested in ‘idol’ type Korean popular music which so many of us now think of when we hear the word ‘Kpop’.

But then in 2013 fans Kpop got lucky. The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, & Tourism, plus KOCCA, and Mu:CON got together to sponsor an official event which they called KPOP Night Out.  This title was somewhat misleading to those who thought only of ‘idol’ groups. It was in fact still a little like Seoulsonic being a showcase of multiple Korean music genres, although it usually had an idol type Kpop act as its headliner. In 2013 it was f(x), 2014 Hyuna, 2015 Crayon Pop, 2016 Zion T, 2017 Red Velvet, 2018 KARD, and in 2019 it will be iKON. It has also showcased groups such as Epik High, Mamamoo, MFBTY, and soloists such as Jay Park, Dean, Hyolyn, Crush, and Lee Hi who are also well known to Kpop fans. In 2018 it changed its name to Korea Spotlight which undoubtedly is a better descriptive of the aim of the evening. That is, to introduce the audience to a wider range of Korean popular music, while still acknowledging the impact of ‘idol’ Kpop on the world’s music scene.

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After starting out in a club called Elysium in 2013, Kpop Night Out upgraded to the Belmont in 2016 and for 2019 it will upgrade once more to ACL Live @ The Moody Theater, a well known Austin venue.

SXSW works on a badge and wristband system with prices for these being quite high. People with these get different levels of priority entry to each event. Sometimes if there’s left over space regular people get a chance to gain entry by a pay at the door system. However 2019 is the first time individual tickets for the Korea Spotlight event were sold. Needless to say they sold out very quickly. Whether there will still be tickets/spaces for walk ups left on the night of the concert remains to be seen.

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With a better venue and iKON as the headline act I’m sure this year will be a rousing success. Kpop at SXSW is on a roll.

Have a great day everyone.

 

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation.

All photo credits to original owners.