Infinite-ly Entertaining: Infinite Makes a Successful American Debut in Los Angeles

infinte tour

 

The general feel of the production of that of a finely tuned theatrical performance with a live band on stage and live music.

Yes folks, you heard me right, the performance was amazingly live.

 

 

November 8, 2013, Nokia Theater L.A. LIVE

“Infinite 1st World Tour – One Great Step” was the title of a cohesively produced performance that included not only the majority of Infinite’s globally popular songs, but solo performances, two showcase songs by the rap duo, Hoya and Dongwoo, and a video drama tie-in that opened the show and continued with segments throughout the evening.

But there were a few things that really set Infinite’s performance apart from the norm in Kpop performances.

production Incredible Production

In a world where perfection is everything, the KPop gurus seem to feel that audiences want to see the stars perform exactly what they see and hear on CD’s and music videos, so lip-syncing is an industry standard. Even when vocals are live, they are usually done over the original track.

If such “cheats” were used at the Infinite concert they were much less apparent as the vocals were truly live, and the band rocked. Gone were the strings and horn section that usually accompany Infinite tracks. The music, while different, was familiar yet subtly changed and exciting. The fans were not disappointed.

In fact, minor changes to the tracks did not stop the largely American demographic from enthusiastically busting out lyrics to all of their favorite songs along with their idols – a fact that was not lost on Infinite, some of whose members were moved to actual tears as they realized these crazy Americans really liked them and avidly followed their music.

IMG_6209Incredible Dancing

There are few Korean pop bands with choreography as clean as Infinite. Their live performance was no exception, and the boys danced their hearts out, not just as the beginning of the performance, but even at the end of a 3-hour show, they danced as if they were fresh on stage. Not all of their moves are incredibly complex, but the dynamic of the seven young men synchronized perfectly is compelling. They dance with gusto. They dance as if they love dancing. They dance with smiles on their faces.

choreo3Incredible Fan Service

Venue issues aside, it seemed every single act took giving the fans extra attention into account. The boys actively engaged the fans at every opportunity. They were not shy about climbing down into the crowd. Even when fans threw themselves at them, they took it with a smile and politely let security peel them off. During one song, each young man was equipped with a basket filled with little stuffed animals they gleefully tossed to the crowed. Two walked through the crowds personally handing out animals to their fans.

Every opportunity was taken to reach out and touch hands, snap selfies with fan phones, pick up fan gifts. In short, they were everything a fan-girl or fan-boy would want in an idol group at every step.

choreo1Incredible Effort to Speak to Fans

Most of the boys spoke English or tried very hard. Perhaps some of the lines were rehearsed, but no one cared. Hearing English, even if it was stilted or a little broken, was eminently charming and endearing. The effort made to try and speak in the native language was much appreciated by American fans that were visible moved by Infinite’s efforts.

Upon leaving the theatre we were greeted by crowd of patiently waiting parents. One couple, whose teenage son and daughter had yet to emerge, had been looking forward to this night. They are big Infinite fans. (OK, they like Big Bang, too! Shhhh.) Mom and dad had a date night while they waited. How do they feel about their kids listening to Korean music? “It has a great beat. If the music is good, it doesn’t matter. And there are some English words thrown in.” (laughs) “My daughter has taken it as an opportunity to learn some Korean.”

Before they left the stage, Infinite was already talking about coming back. I think they were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic welcome they received. Or perhaps by how American the audience was? Regardless, there is a large crowd that will be waiting for them to 다시 돌아와! (“Come back again!”)

choreo4 production2 choreo2

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[BIBIMBEATS] June 2013: The Rap Heavyweights of K-Pop

Think K-Pop is just flashy clothes and cool choreography?  Think again.  Beneath all those layers of BB cream lie quite an intimidating pool of talent.  In fact, the genre is home to some of the most versatile rappers the country has to offer.  Evident recently in PSY’s booming popularity, K-Pop rappers are a force to be reckoned with.  Here are a few that Bibimbeats ensures can make the most skeptical hip-hop fans nod their head.
 

First we’ve got maknae-leader duo Bang Yong-guk and Zelo of B.A.P.  The group has seen increasing success since debuting earlier last year, from selling out international venues to earning Best New Artist recognition from four separate award shows in 2012.  Some critics attribute their early success to Yong-guk’s solo collaborations and Bang & Zelo’s sub-unit work prior to B.A.P’s debut.  But then again, maybe it was Zelo’s killer 16-syllable-per-second rap in smash single “Warrior”.  Either way, it’s safe to say Bang & Zelo are only getting started.

Bibimbeats Recommends: “Rain Sound”

As a member of a group that’s seven strong, it’s probably easy for a guy to get lost in a band like INFINITE.  But with debut album “Fly High” released this January, rappers Dong-woo and Hoya of sub-unit INFINITE-H were able to do so effortlessly – and with some pretty well-respected back-up.  Enlisting veteran hip-hop producer Primary and the talent roster of Dynamic Duo’s Amoeba Culture brought the album an ‘old school’ feel.  Title track “Special Girl” enjoyed public praise from idols and rappers alike, and “Fly High” even bumped national darlings SNSD’s comeback off the top on charts across the board.  (Whoops! Sorry, girls!)

Bibimbeats Recommends: “I Can’t Tell You” with Gaeko of Dynamic Duo

Next up we’ve got the only idol to make it as one of CNN’s “50 Reasons Why Seoul is the Best City” – BIGBANG leader G-Dragon.  GD’s no newbie, beginning his rap career when he was just 13 years old.  Citing Wu-Tang Clan as a major influence, his love for hip-hop doesn’t stop there – his vibrant, ‘fashion forward’ music videos being something of a reinterpreted nod to that of mid-90s Hype Williams.  Last month, his second solo album “One of a Kind” reached platinum status in South Korea, selling over 225,000 copies and breaking a record that – and here’s the kicker – he previously set with his 2009 solo debut “Heartbreaker”.

Bibimbeats Recommends: “A Boy”

Maybe he doesn’t have a string of solo album successes, but B2ST’s Jun-hyung is easily one an idol rapper to watch.  His determination as a lyricist has taken him to a holding his own in collaborations with esteemed rappers like Beenzino, Verbal Jint, and Outsider.  Fans can currently check him out in production duo Brave Brothers’ project Absurd with fellow idols LE of EXID and FeelDog of BIGSTAR.  With a 19+ language rating, Absurd’s “You Got Some Nerve” definitely breaks him away from the squeaky clean B2ST image.  It will be interesting to watch Jun-hyung continue to evolve.

Bibimbeats Recommends: “Be Quiet” with Kim Wan-sun

When someone’s a protégé of one of the genre’s greatest, they’ve got to have something going for them – especially when it comes to Cho PD-trained Block B leader Zico.  While Block B and their record label are currently in quite the legal battle, Zico remains a top rapper, evident in both his 2012 mixtape ‘Zico on the Block 1.5’ and pre-debut work with bandmate Kyung.  Zico fans can check out rookie group OFFROAD’s comeback “Head Banging”, a summer anthem he both composed and produced.


Bibimbeats Recommends: “Feel So Young” with Ugly Duck & Crush