If fan engagement sessions are the crown jewels of KCON, then the concert is the throne upon which those jewels rest. From the set-up of the stage to how the tickets were sold, it was clear that the convention itself was secondary to the actual concert experience, so it should come as no surprise that this was the portion I was most excited about in the days leading up to the con.

Day One

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Throughout the first day my consistent mantra was that Everglow disappeared for me to see IZ*ONE’s Highlight performance in person. And boy, was that worth it. While I certainly felt a twinge of sadness over not being able to see Yiren and her band mates sing Bon Bon Chocolat, I completely forgot about it the moment the lights dropped and the dance cover renditions of Sicko Mode and Bad Guy began.

Within the span of several hours I went from not knowing anything about the boy groups performing – I was really there for IZ*ONE, to be frank – to desperately figuring out what exactly ATEEZ and The Boys were performing on the stage. There was something for everyone, and the way in which the concert combined covers of old hits like BTS’ Fire with rookie groups’ own work definitely helped their appeal to people who had never heard of any of the newer groups (like me).

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There were some moments that felt a bit odd – the IZ*ONE talk segment definitely felt a tad bit too long, and NU’EST’s vibe much more low key than the other segments. That didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the first day and with much more anticipation than I thought I would have for the next. To quote a friend who had literally never been into K-pop in his life: “These idols are the real deal”.

Day Two

One of the nice things about going into music festivals with one clear bias is that it allows you to freely enjoy the other parts, if you so choose. Having had my fill with a spectacular day one I was looking forward to being able to just chill and enjoy the music. I definitely enjoyed it, but chill I did not – I was too busy getting infected with the energy emanating from the stage.

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The point hammered home to me throughout the entire weekend was the precision with which these artists, when at their peak, absolutely nail their dance moves. From the velvety flow of Seventeen to SF9’s dance cover of EXO’s Love Shot, their abilities were very clearly second to none. I was absolutely floored when AB6IX’s Jeon Woong pulled off his backflip and landed perfectly during Hollywood – against that show of skill Woojin sitting on the side seemed all that much sadder.

And just when I thought Day 2 was over, Seventeen came back with an encore rendition of Very Nice, proving that nothing was predictable nor low-key at KCON’s marquee event, especially when the members of Mnet’s World Klass appeared in the audience to film a segment for their upcoming TV show.

If the purpose of the KCON concert is to advertise new groups to new audiences, it was the best advertising I have ever seen. I hope to be able to see every single one of these groups again live, though I must admit I screamed a bit when realizing Ateez had just finished their first US tour. Even if I am still a bit lukewarm on the convention itself, I will absolutely be going back to the concert.

KCON NEW YORK 2019 Image Gallery