Sweat, body odour, hair pulling and waiting — all the things you would expect to encounter when seeing your favourite band at a concert. Recently, I went to my first Korean pop (K-Pop) concert in Melbourne and experienced a whole new world of music and atmosphere.
On the day of the concert, I left Ballarat at 10.00am. I figured I had plenty of time to get some shopping done in Melbourne at my favourite Japanese store that sells everything for $2.80. Yes, everything!
A friend of mine had said that people had been lining up outside the concert venue since 7.00am, which I thought was a little crazy because the venue did not open till 5.30pm, but I admired their dedication and their vision for the perfect spot amongst the crowd. My friend and I had purchased VIP tickets, which meant we had a prime spot at the front near the stage.
When we did eventually arrive after having walked five blocks to Festival Hall, we lined up in the VIP section only to be told that it was actually the front of the line and that we would have to walk all the way to the back of the line. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, however. We met some lovely people and that made our wait so more bearable. As for waiting, we did plenty of it. People waited for the toilet queue, only for it to close when people still needed to go. We waited for the cloak room that didn’t open till four, making everyone rush to offload their gear. We even waited for the band to come onto the stage after what seemed like an hour.
Usually I’m a pretty patient person, and this wouldn’t have bothered me, but for security reasons nobody was allowed to bring in bottled water, so we were already dehydrated before the concert began. Although I couldn’t sing from having a dry throat, the concert turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever attended. The band made up for any waiting by giving us an amazing show.
Each song was performed with great energy and accompanied by fantastic dance skills. I was able to enjoy one of my favourite bands in the flesh, which was something that I thought would never happen unless I travelled to Japan or South Korea.
Like any concert there were plenty of screaming fans that would do anything to get in your way. I can tell you that this happened plenty of times throughout the concert and I was close to losing my cool. The band however, made the cramped conditions feel all the more worthwhile by addressing us in their best English and doing little dances for everyone to make the concert feel more personal. Although this band had travelled to several different countries before arriving in Australia, they had a way of making everyone in the room feel special. It was almost like Melbourne was the only place they were performing and they wanted to make the most of it.
So what exactly was so different about this concert from all the others I had been to before?
Firstly, K-pop fans seem to be so dedicated to their idol groups, and are, for the most part, very respectful. Fans of these bands have a comradery that no one else has. A month before the concert, I found myself involved in a Facebook group dedicated to fans of the band I was going to see. It was great to be able to talk to and meet other people from Victoria and Sydney that were into this particular band. The group also had a fan day so that they could meet each other in preparation for the concert. It was a great opportunity for people that were going alone to the concert to make some friends to hang out with.
Secondly, K-pop fans are dedicated fans like no other. While most westernised-bands have their own crew that fly with them across the world, K-pop bands do not have such comforts. K-pop bands must rely on their international fans to provide them with refreshments at the concerts. Fans are more than happy to donate their hard earned money to bring their favourite bands half-way across the globe.
So on this day, while I endured blisters and sore feet, I experienced a concert that was nothing like I had ever imagined, with amazing singing, dancing and theatrics. I only hope that I can experience more K-pop concerts like this here in Australia. or abroad in Japan or South Korea.