Sunday, June 2, 2019

Concert Review: STRAY KIDS in LA May 17, 2019

Changbin, Hyunjin, Woojin, Lee Know, Seungmin
I.N, Han Jisung, Felix, Bang Chan

After the fiasco of the ATEEZ concert in March, I was very nervous about this concert. I knew it HAD to be better because we all had seats. No pit at all. But I was still nervous about if all I would see would be phones. And if the sound would be okay such that I might actually hear the songs just a little. Or would I only hear screams?

Anyway. We (I took Adia and Leila with me this time) traveled to LA (actually Pasadena which is not quite LA) on the Thursday before. We drove through nice awesome gusts of wind and one dust storm that was pretty scary there for a second. Rain threatened the whole way, but never really dumped on us, so that was good. We arrived to an overcast and chilly California, but was greeted by the hotel front desk dude who asked what we were there for. When I said, a concert, he said, "Oh, the Korean band?" I was like "yeah, but BTS was here LAST week!" He was like, yeah, and THAT was insane! :) I was happy to know that he knew there was yet another Korean band besides BTS gracing their lovely city. LOL.

On Friday we made our traditional concert pilgrimage to Choice Music in Koreatown (very much LA now) and spent a ton of money on albums. We had beverages at the nearby cafe and opened them and filmed ourselves a bit. A very nice old Korean dude watched us the entire time, fascinated. Finally stood up and asked us what we were doing. We explained it all and he loved it. He explained that his wife was a famous singer too in a big fancy choir and even went to Julliard. He told us he was 90 years old. He was adorable and cute and so happy to chit chat.

We then ate lunch at the food court. I was not brave and ordered simple rice and chicken. It was good. But huge and I barely made a dent.

Then we went back to our hotel and got ready for the concert. We arrived more than four hours early even though we had assigned seats! It's part of the experience to just go hang out with the crowd and be part of the excitement. So we did!

We stood in a short line to get our P2 (hi touch) wrist bands. Then a long line to buy merch. (Well, I didn't but the girls did.) Then another short line to get batteries for the lightsticks they bought. Then we just waited until security let us in. Which happened about an hour before the show.

Once inside and I saw where our seats were, I was devastated. They were close, but as far left to one side as you can go, which meant that we could really only see half the stage. Unless they stayed all the way to the front. And we truly could only see half of the screen (video presentations are a big part of kpop concerts... not just for jumbotron type viewing)

I was so bummed.

But the girls were still very excited and seemed not bothered, which made me feel better, and I just hoped for the best and that the boys would come to the very front of the stage.

Finally, it started, and can I just say, the beginning of these concerts are seriously the biggest adrenaline rush. I have no words. Best thing ever. And this one was no exception.

And when they came on stage... WE COULD SEE THEM!! YES!!

And we only had one or two awful phone people in the way! By awful, I don't mean people who film because... I film I have my phone out, I mean, you have to have that memory preserved. By awful, I mean people who hold their phone up at complete arms length for the ENTIRE time... and film EVERY SINGLE THING! Like, seriously. BE IN THE MOMENT!!! UGH!!!

But I could see around my problem person, for the most part, and managed to get a few clips myself (not at arms length!) and the tried to remember to be in the moment and watch with my own eyes.

And they were as amazing as expected. Dang, these boys are good. They truly blow me away with their talent despite how freaking young they are. I loved every minute of it and was sad when it had to end.

(At the end, the problem girl stood on her chair and then she totally blocked the view of all of us behind her... finally I got her attention and said in my best mom way... GET DOWN! She crouched a little then, but still stood on the chair. Seriously. I wanted to lecture her afterwards, but refrained.)

Here's my video of our experience if you are interested. I skipped their long comments at the end and put them here in their own video. Every single one of them talked to us in English whether they could or not. It was awesome. Two of the boys are actually from Australia, so they have that most awesome accent and of course can talk to us a ton.

(Reminds me of when NCT was in NY for an interview a month ago and the interviewer said to Johnny "Wow, your English is amazing!" and Johnny said back. "Well yeah,  I'm from Chicago." He was so annoyed!!!)

Afterwards, we waited in the theater with the huge crowd that had paid for a hi touch. At one point, Adia saw Woojin peeking his face out of the back stage door... and she said all calmly... omg that's Woojin.. then she yelled "OMG THAT'S WOOJIN!!!" The whole crowd then turned just as Woojin lead the whole line of them out the door and up the side of the theater. We stood and cheered and they smiled shyly and cutely as they tried to sneak through us all to the hi touch spot. LOL. One of our favorite moments.

Finally it was our turn. They threatened us with our lives if we tried to film it. But Adia still tried... putting her phone in her front pocket. So just as we got to the first boy, security stopped us and reached over and took her phone. She was mortified, since Lee Know, first boy in line, saw the whole thing. And then we had to quickly recover and go on with the high fiving! Sigh.

So it was one of those hi touches were there were about four security/staff people behind us the whole way, yelling and pushing us along, distracting us from our tiny little interaction moment. I HATE THAT SO BAD! Anyway... so the first half I was trying to be in the moment, but the second half I was so annoyed with staff that I can't even remember the boys. I'm so bugged.

But Jisung was as enthusiastic as expected and had a comeback comment for everyone. (to my simple "thank you" he said "YES!!" back to me. Lol. To Leila's "your awesome" he said back to her, "No, YOU'RE awesome!" Stuff like that... for everyone.) Bang Chan was good to look in our eyes and say thank you very deliberately. Felix was so beautiful I forgot to breathe. I.N was just so so cute. AH! And then... I can't remember Woojin or Changbin or Seungmin... and I sort of remember Hyunjin because he was at the end. Also very very beautiful. But... all I could think about by that time was how I wanted to turn around and tell all the staff to shut up. Sigh. DANG IT! I need to learn to just tune them out and ignore them!!

I shook my head at the staff directing us out and said "that's just not right" or some such stupid thing. She's all... I know. I think she thought I meant how fast it is, but whatever. That's annoying too, but it's the fact that the yelling staff makes you forget to actually enjoy the moment.

They all have such soft, delicate hands. I just have to say. And they didn't really high five us, after HUNDREDS of people, i think they get so tired holding their hand up. So it turns into a bit of a high hand shake.. .or quick hand grasp. It's all quite awkward actually. LOL.  Next time I might rethink my strategy and not do a grasp OR a high five, but simply just place my whole palm to theirs and just hold it there for a moment.... not hold on, and not hit like a high five, but just put my whole hand on theirs.... things to ponder.....

In the end, the hi touch thing is a bit of a let down, but also so much fun. I have mixed emotions about it! I decided you have to have a certain personality to make them succeed, and I don't have it. It scares me WAY too bad. And for most of the boys (I'd say half of a usual group) they feel so awkward too... so it's all just weird. Some boys love it though.'s fun to see which ones are which when it comes down to it.

We got a Lyft ride back to the hotel and then as is usual after concerts, talked and watched our videos and pictures for another hour or so before we could settle down to sleep. Seriously. The high and energy from concerts (that are fun and not fiascos) are amazing and why I continue to pay the money to make them happen. It will never get old.

Then we got up the next day and drove all the way home. So tired. But all worth it.
Our view of the stage

With Leila and Adia

Stray Kids 

A favorite moment I managed to capture

Saying goodbye :(

Next concert? Hopefully KCON in August. And then I have Pentagon tickets in September (back in LA) and tickets also in September for a music festival in Las Vegas where Monsta X well be showing up. So... it continues.

Concerts I've missed that make me so sad: NCT, Up10tion, BTS, and a festival where Super Junior and Taemin played. During April and May I could have happily gone to LA every weekend for something or another. It's so crazy. How did this happen?

Bonus: My favorite Stray Kids song (I think... there are many) with lyrics if you are interested. I've probably shared this already, but here you go again:

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