AIA Festival 2014: Why Going to a YG Family Concert is a Must-Go
Would you stand for four and a half hours to listen to nothing but YG music?
Of course, you would! And that’s exactly what myself and thousands of others did at the AIA Festival 2014.
Concert goers start walking towards the entrance of the YG Family venue.
With more than 15,000 people crammed together in anticipation of their favorite YG idols, you could really feel the excitement, energy, and euphoric atmosphere within the crowd. I came ready for the massive hordes of YG Stans – the name for YG fans – as I brought coffee to provide enough caffine during the concert, as well as pack wet issues to fight off any sweat from the closed, crammed, sweaty confines I would soon find myself in.
A quick glance around me showed many in the audience decked out with Blackjack shirts — the fan name for 2NE1, and VIP yellow glow sticks — the fan name for Big Bang.
The event was truly international as well. The YG fans in the audience were not just Korean, as you can hear Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and English within earshot.
The four an a half YG concert was also a test of endurance. Standing at the YG concert was actually an hour longer than a Lord of the Rings movie, but instead of watching wizards, elves, and trolls, I saw K-pop stars of all variety. The long concert, however, was worth every bit of exhaustion, leg aches, and sweatiness. Hearing Big Bang, 2NE1, Epik High, Lee Hi, Akdong Musician, Winner, Team B, and PSY was a treat all in itself.
As the time inched closer to the 6:30 PM starting time, the cheering has already begun even before the first act. It was time to get the show started!
YG’s Famed Ladies – 2NE1
2NE1 opens up the concert to massive applause.
The 2NE1 Profile:
Pronounced as “twenty one” (and less commonly said as “to anyone”), 2NE1 is a four girl group that drops down the house with electro, dance beats. As the sister group of Big Bang, the four ladies are one of the most popular K-pop groups today. The group already has massive success, winning two Song of the Year awards with I Don’t Care (2009) and I Am the Best (2011).
The four ladies of 2NE1 were the first group to kick things off. Singing their iconic songs “Crush” and “Fire”, the fans were already in full swing, cheering and singing the song lyrics word-for-word. They later sang the addictive lyrics of “it ain’t over till it’s over” in “Gotta Be You” then got fans to chant “Come Back Home”.
The energy brought on by the four ladies was infectious, as their electronica, dance beats made it easy to become immersed in the concert. It was also surprising that YG decided to bring out 2NE1 as the opening act. Usually, in concerts they save their biggest, most popular groups towards the end. Yet, what better way to start things off right than with one of YG Family’s crowning jewels? 2NE1 is YG royalty and easily grabbed the audience’s attention from the start.
The queens of the Blackjack kingdom had a bit of everything in their performance: a skit that involved motorcycles, bad girl strutting, and sensual dancing. Speaking of dancing…
Minzy, Minzy, Minzy. I’ll say she was the highlight of the four bad girls of K-pop. With her red hair she memorized the audience with her crazy splits, booty dancing, showing utmost confidence, and displaying that sensual side of hers.
Seeing Park Bom live was also great to see. She was recently involved in a drug scandal, as she laid low after the incident went down. Fortunately, the fans, including myself, had her back, as shouts of “we missed you” and “we’ll always support you” echoed through the stadium.
It’s good to see the four ladies back, stronger than ever this year after a two-year hiatus from touring (their last tour until this year was the New Evolution Global Tour back in 2012). 2013 didn’t feel the same without them performing live. Welcome back 2NE1!
Going Out With a Bang – Big Bang
Big Bang looks on to the crowd as fans wave yellow VIP sticks.
The Big Bang Profile:
Big Bang is one of YG Entertainment’s marquee groups, being one of the most influential groups in both Korea and overseas. Many of their members have also pursued solo careers in singing. To many, they are known as the nation’s boy band.
Can Big Bang bring out a crowd or what?
Judging from the amount of VIP shirts and yellow glowsticks from the audience, it’s safe to say that everyone was here for the five male idols. Like their female counterparts, 2NE1, Big Bang added energy, addictive beats, and got everyone to break out dancing.
The “ooohs” and “aaahs” continued for each Big Bang song, as one of the biggest draws in K-pop today have swag that few other Korean male bands have today.
The famed pop group dug out one of their first major hits, the 2007 iconic-piano opening, rhythmic hit “Haru Haru” to the massive applause from the crowd. Their newer, contemporary hits, “Bad Boy” and “Fantastic Baby” soon followed.
The group has definitely come a long way from their humble beginnings in 2006. It’s been eight years since they first debuted as young teenagers. It’s been a surreal experience to watch them grow from five rookies to the dominant powerhouse veterans in K-pop today.
Giving it your 200% effort – Akdong Musician
The Akdong Musician Profile:
Consisting of the brother-sister duo of Lee Chan-hyuk and Lee Soo-hyun, Akdong Musician (also known as AKMU) is one of K-pop’s popular acts today. Living in Mongolia for two years, when they returned to Korea, the duo pursued a music career.
They first became known through the music TV showK-pop Star season 2 where they won 1st place in the competition.
The youngest members of YG, Akdong Musician switched up the tempo from the upbeat, in-your-face attitude of the 2NE1 starlets to a more cutesy, mellow melody. The two starred in the popular music audition show, K-pop Star 2, as they emerged as the winners in the end. During their performance, they sang “Crescendo”, “Give Love”, and the catchy tune released in 2014, “200%”.
We’re looking at the new generation of YG singers. One of the many appealing aspects of the brother-sister duo of Lee Chan-hyuk, 17, and Lee Soo-hyun, 15, is they have that students-next-door image. They really remind me of the awesome Korean kids I used to teach as an English teacher, or the high-schoolers running around Seoul in their school uniforms.
Can You Count From 1 to 4 – Lee Hi
The Lee Hi Profile:
Known by her stage name Lee Hi, her singer alias actually came from her real Korean name Lee Hi-yi, which is pronounced the same. She participated in the TV series K-pop Star season 1 and got 2nd place. Her debut single “1, 2, 3, 4″ received over 650,000 downloads, a slew of awards, and instantly put her on the map as one of YG’s new, promising singers.
Another alumni of K-pop Star, Lee Hi finished as the runner-up in the famed K-pop’s 1st season against Park Ji-min, who would eventually form a duo in JYP called 15&.
Known as the girl that popularized counting to four with her song “1, 2, 3, 4″ in 2012, like Akdong Musician, she represents the new generation of YG artists.
During the concert, she sang her famed “1, 2, 3, 4″ song, as well as featured in her fellow YG artists’ songs, including singing alongside 2NE1 for many of their songs.
The Winners – Winner and Team B
Will there be a second coming of Big Bang?
While it’s hard to match the achievements and talents of the famed five-person group, YG sure hopes so. Before talking about about Winner and Team B, some story time is needed for background purposes.
These two are YG’s latest male bands, first introduced on the reality survival show WIN: Who is Next. Before Winner had their group name, they were previously known as Team A. Original team name? Not so much. Straight to the point? Very much so.
In a battle of who’s the better letter in the alphabet, Team A competed against Team B in a series of competitions. The grand prize for beating the other team? A chance to be the first YG boy band in eight years since Big Bang. Team B would stay as trainees, yet they remained popular well after the show’s competition.
Eventually, Team A bested out the team with the 2nd letter of the alphabet, Team B, and had their group name changed to Winner. During the time both teams were competing, they already had a ton of exposure. Winner debuted in Taeyang’s “Ringa Linga” music video as dancers, toured with Big Bang as opening act singers, and started on the show “Winner TV”, another reality show that showed their journey in becoming K-pop stars.
With a slew of hype behind them and the backing of YG advertising muscle, by the time Winner released their first album in 2014, they already had quite a sizable fan base and placed 1st in many music charts. The group was also noted to have raised YG’s stock prices up by 6.57%, a larger increase than rivals SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment at 2.2% for their new rookie groups (Red Velvet and GOT7 respectively).
Now that story time is over, it’s time to answer the question: How did the fans react?
Winner goes out in style on floating rings.
The Winner Profile:
First introduced in the reality-survival program called WIN: Who is Next, Winner was formerly known as Team A. After winning the program, Winner was to be YG’s next male group to succeed in Big Bang’s footsteps. Before becoming an official group, Winner were trainees and served as backup dancers to Big Bang and 2NE1 on their world tours.
Team B also performs to the cheers from their participation on the TV show “Winner TV.”
Like with the other artists, quite crazy, with lots of “Winner” and “Sarang haes” — I love you in Korean. Winner’s live debut was actually here at the AIA Festival. Winner performed “Go Up” and “Smile Again”, while Team B performed “Climax” and “Just Another Boy”.
YG is known to pour a lot of attention in each of their groups and the fans know it. With that being said, Winner is expected to continue to provide the YG musical flavor and climb their way on top of the music charts the way Big Bang has (and continues to do). Perhaps Team B will become a permanent group in the future.
As for Winner, time will tell if the group formerly known as Team A will be the second coming of Big Bang.
Can You Fly High – Epik High
Epik High features Sandara Park of 2NE1 (center) singing “Love Love Love.”
The Epik High Profile:
The trio of Tablo, Mithra, and DJ Tukutz, Epik High was one of the pioneers to bring hip-hop and popularize it in Korea. Prior to joining YG Entertainment in 2012, they worked in the underground hip-hop scene. Some of their songs, such as Fly, would be featured in video games. They are also known to mix genres and collaborate with many female vocalists to add a ballad / soul bridge in their songs.
It’s been two years since the hip-hop trio of Epik High joined the YG Family umbrella. As a fan of the group for years, I was wondering if the transition would work. After all, the underground hip-hop group with their indie roots would merge with one of the most powerful, mainstream music companies.
Yet, after seeing them collaborating with 2NE1′s Sandara Park in “Love Love Love” and Park Bom in “Up” in real time, it looked like Epik High would fit in with YG’s other artists just fine.
It was great to also see Tablo live once again. Known more as Haru’s dad these days from the show Superman is Back — the show is about a celebrity dad and spending time with their sons / daughters for 48 hours, the Epik High front man is still going strong and bring the house down with his rapping. Tablo’s sidekick, Mithra, also had slick rapping and looked out among the YG artists. And seeing DJ Tukutz have his own “Epik High” DJ table in the middle of the stage was great to see.
YG did a great job in bringing them into the YG brand, but letting them keep their indie roots at the same time.
Korea’s Global Horseridin’ Icon – PSY
The PSY Profile:
Known as the Gangnam Style guy to many people unfamiliar to K-pop, PSY was actually one of the biggest stars even before his 2012 hit. His 2002 hitChampion made him a household name in Korea. He is a well-respected hip-hop star that blended the mainstream pop and his rapping roots together. Throughout his singing career, he is also known as one of the most entertaining singers with his dancing and facial expressions.
Before PSY came out, his TV intro consisted of flashes of his “Gangnam Style” dominance from two years ago, the caption “most watched video on YouTube”, and posters of his face on Billboard and MTV. Then when his face appeared on the TV, the crowd responded with a deafening cheer.
PSY is still revered and well-respected here in Korea, even after the “Gangnam Style” craze came and gone around the world.
If I had to pick a singer that brought the most energy to the concert, it’s hands down PSY. Wow, he can really move, dance, and has immediate stage presence. The 37 year-old is still as iconic as ever, as he sang many of his classics, including “Champion”, “Father”, “Right Now”, “Gentleman”, and of course “Gangnam Style”.
With sweat dripping from his forehead with each performance, he was always in high-spirits, smiling, and talking to the crowd. Several times during the concert, he had a cheering competition to see which section of the audience (left side, center, right side, VIP section) could cheer the loudest.
My section in the center was the quietest during the first round of the “who could be the loudest” game. However, we kicked it up a notch and screamed our lungs out during the later rounds of the competition, including myself.
When I first came to Korea back in 2010, one of my first concerts I went to was when he released “Right Now.” I’m glad to see the soju-rappin’ entertainer is still the same: Energetic, wild, and knows how to have a good time.
I know when I’m 37, I would hope I can have as much energy as PSY.
Memorable Extras and Funny Gags
During the four and a half hour event, there were a lot of great, hilarious moments. Here’s a small rundown of some of the LOL moments.
Sandara Park parodies TOP’s song with “Doom Dara dibby dada, Sandara dibby dada”
- 2NE1 member Sandara Park singing “Doom Dara dibby dada, Sandara dibby dada” playfully teasing TOP’s song Doom Dada
- Seungri pretending to be G-Dragon and doing his own take on Crayon
- Big Bang doing a silly, hilarious parody of 2NE1’s I Love You with a lot of butt grabbing in between. Yes, the audience was going crazy during the butt grabbing parts.
- PSY for being himself and going crazy in all his performances.
- 2NE1′s fun skits, including using fake motorcycles during one of their songs to add some story in their performance.
- A lot of fire pyrotechnics during the song Fire, as well as fire shot randomly during many Big Bang songs
Wrapping It Up
If the cheering, chants, and excitement from the fans were any indication then the AIA Festival: YG Family concert was a resounding success.
As the final curtain fell and the YG artists bowed and left the stage, it didn’t hit me the concert was over. Like many others, I wasn’t ready for it to end, even though it was nearly 11 PM with the final subway calls coming. It was a surreal experience, a feeling of post-contest excitement that I felt soon after.
Now it’s over to you, the reader. What makes YG artists so appealing to you?
Credits: Green Tea Graffiti