A line of fans ready to experience the final KCON 2019 LA event, KCON After Party, wrapped around the block of LA’s Hammer Museum. The Monday event was widely anticipated by some who gathered to camp early Sunday evening for the after celebration contained stages by MAMAMOO, ATEEZ, Balming Tiger, JUN, and Grace Kelly. Once fans were allowed into the venue’s courtyard, K-Pop videos screened in front of the small stage, and host Danny Lim arrived shortly after to welcome fans to the closing event that marked the end of the eighth year of KCON. According to Lim, the KCON has now hosted over 1,000,000 K-Pop fans since its flagship event in 2012.
First on the program was the multinational, multi-lingual, multi-cultural collective Balming Tiger. Coined after the strong Asian ointment, Balming Tiger aims to “add a different taste to the K-Pop culture” by creating music that connects with today’s generation while highlighting each members’ distinct artistic color. Members Omega Sapien, Sogummm, and San Yawn took the stage and performed songs such as “Armadillo,” “Meet Me When The Rain Stops,” and “Pop the Tag.” Via their unique approach as an alternative K-Pop group, Balming Tigers hopes to further popularize Asian culture throughout the world.
Next up, Korean-American musician JUN took center stage. Also known as JuNCurryAhn on Youtube, the young musician-turned-singer rose to fame with his violin covers that garnered over 1.4 million subscribers and 145 million views since 2011. Keeping true to his roots, JUN performed performed EXO’s “Love Shot,” and BTS’ “Boy with Luv” on his violin. The famous Youtuber dance cover couple, Ellen & Brian, performed alongside JUN during the covers as well during the performance to “Admit,” a track from his latest and first EP, “Limbo.” Following his online success, JUN has been actively pursuing his solo career in the mainstream music industry. The Korean-American artist continued to showcase his new work and choreography with his song “Switch.” This performance would mark the third time he had performed at KCON LA 2019.
Saxophonist prodigy Grace Kelly took the stage accompanied by guitarist Matthew Wang. An alumna of the famed Berklee College of Music, Grace Kelly sang and played the saxophone on her self-penned track “Feels Like Home.” The song was dedicated to her boyfriend and stirred feelings of falling in love. Much to the crowd’s pleasure, she performed a saxophone cover to BTS’ Jungkook’s “Euphoria.”
ATEEZ then took the KCON After Party stage, garnering cheers from the entire crowd. Newly debuted in late 2018, the rising rookies immediately gained a tremendous international following and sold out their ‘EXPEDITION’ World Tour within six months of debut. The group performed one of the title tracks, “Illusion,” as well as one of the B-sides “Dancing Like Butterfly Wings” from their latest album ‘TREASURE EP. 3: ONE TO ALL.’ ATEEZ followed this with special cover stages of Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” and YG’s “One Time Comin’.” Leader Hongjoong did a cover to Eminem’s “Without Me” and main vocalist Jongho covered Bruno Mars’ “Finesse.” This was followed by “Say My Name” & “HALA HALA(Hearts Awakened, Live Alive),” two tracks from their first comeback album, ‘TREASURE EP.2: ZERO TO ONE.’ The rookie octet was one of the most active musical acts in promotions and performances at KCON LA 2019.
Vocal powerhouses, MAMAMOO later graced the stage starting out with the title track “gogobebe” to their latest album, ‘White Wind’ followed by their 2018 summer track, “Egotistic” from their ‘Red Moon’ album. As the MOOMOOBONGs rose above the crowd creating a canopy of green, MAMAMOO’s leader, Solar, covered a verse of “Speechless,” an original from the Disney movie, Aladdin. The lead vocalist performed the song the night before on the KCON Stage. Many fans called MooMoos were disappointed due to Wheein’s inability to attend KCON LA for health reasons. Main vocalist and maknae, Hwasa, explained that because Wheein was not present, they wanted to perform even harder. The vocal-focused, soulful group continued their stage with “Rainy Season,” “Starry Night.”
MAMAMOO was the most interactive with fans. Hwasa constantly accepted fan gifts and took pictures with their polaroid cameras. Main rapper Moonbyul and Hwasa also made sure to visit the side of the stage to greet, sing, and throw finger hearts to fans who could not see from the back. Solar even teased a fan, taking a selfie with a polaroid camera and pretending to take the camera home herself. MAMAMOO concluded their stage with the fun, iconic song “Um Oh Ah Yeh,” and that would mark the end of KCON 2019. And shortly after, post-concert depression and nostalgia kicked in for the audience who had had a game-changing KCON.
Written by: Emily H.