October 8, 2018 K-EXPO 2018 Excites Melrose Ballroom Queens, NY 9-30-18
To the average music fan, the term K-pop may be foreign. Then there is a niche group of listeners with an international ear who have already been on the wave of K-pop, Korean Pop music, for years. Starting to raise even more interest, K-pop related acts are arriving on the shores of North America even more in recent times. For example, BTS recently wrapped up their first U.S. stadium at Citi Field in New York. Speaking of the city that never sleeps, the K-EXPO, an event which brings together Singer-Actor L of K-pop superstars INFINITE, quickly rising boy bands ASTRO and A.C.E, K-pop/Rock quartet The Rose, and influential individuals in the scene, made it’s first ever visit in the Big Apple on Sunday, September 30th for an event no one will soon forget.
Initially scheduled to come to New York’s Pier 36, an e-mail addressing all that were set for K-EXPO, pinged at 10 PM the night before, alerting them that the venue had been changed. While many fans panicked, screamed, and complained via social media, All That Group, hosts of the event, managed to reput together the expo, in eight hours, for the following day at Melrose Ballroom in the borough of Queens. In fact, the expo ended up making most fans of Kim Myung Soo, The Rose, A.C.E, and ASTRO, as they say now-a-days, shook.
A schedule of excitement that kicked off at 11 AM, the whole day was packed with different events ranging from a random dance-off, to a class run by a professional dance team. There were even chances to meet and take photos with the groups who were participating in the event. A two level venue, the second floor of Melrose Ballroom was full of band merchandise, Korean beauty products, and much more. While there was supposed to be food, due to the last minute change there in fact was not, but it was one of a few bumps in the road, but let’s get to the performances.
Starting off relatively slowly, the first two performers – Kim Myung Soo and The Rose – killed them with ballads, making fans beg for more. First up was Kim Myung Soo, whose ballads have always caused fans to sway, cry, and scream. This was his first ever fan meeting in the U.S. as a solo artist. Besides being a solo act, Myung Soo is also lovingly known as L from the K-pop group INFINITE. Interestingly enough, he grew even more fame from his most recent television role as Im Ba Reun, in Miss Hammurabi.
Excited to be in the US, he started off his performance with, “It’s Ok Even If It’s Not Me,” a ballad from the soundtrack for the Korean Drama The Emperor: Owner of the Mask (2017), followed by several fun conversations with the MC and the fans. He then reprised the INFINITE song “No More,” and while the organizers messed up the lyrics, he remedied the situation by singing the intro completely A capella. Keeping the show interesting, he actually ended up doing this multiple times. Walking off stage, with the fans begging for more, he returned after an outfit change to “Talk and Talk” and “LOVE U LIKE U.”
Next up was The Rose. Starting as buskers (street performers) on the seat of Seoul, South Korea, DoJoon (vocal, keyboard, acoustic guitar), Jaehyeong (bass, back-up vocal), Hajoon (drums, vocal, rapper), and WooSung (vocals, electric guitar) have transformed into a popular British Rock Korean Pop group.
After a short sound check, they began with their debut song “I’m Sorry,” getting the crowd pumped through a Rock ballad, followed by yet another, slower, heart-retching cut, “I.L.Y.” As per a regular K-pop gig, all the groups took intermittent breaks in their performances to talk to the MC and interact with the fans. Some fans were even lucky enough to be pulled on stage to play games with the groups. Then, after some games and chatting, they went back to playing and performed their final song of the night, “Baby,” which got the whole crowd bopping, jumping up and down, screaming along with the band.
Shortly after The Rose packed up their equipment, the excitement grew for the next group, A.C.E. For those unfamiliar with the act, A.C.E debuted in May of 2017 under Beat Entertainment and has released one mini album consisting of new and previously released digital singles. Their first time ever in New York, the excitement among their fans was palpable in the room as they prepared to begin.
Comprising of Jun (leader, vocalist), Donghun (vocalist), WOW (vocalist, rapper), Byeongkwan (vocalist, rapper), and Chan (vocalist), amped up for their New York debut, the group put on one hell of a performance. Starting with their most recent comeback, “Take Me Higher,” they danced their hearts out and the crowd was needing more. Fortunately, A.C.E did not disappoint, following up with “Callin’” while producing bops with dance moves to rival any other top notch Korean Pop group. Slowing it down for “5TAR(incompletion),” simply standing at the front of the stage and belting their little hearts out to, they ultimately finishing up their set with their debut song, “CACTUS.”
Last, but certainly not least, wrapping up the expo was ASTRO. These guys have been around since 2016, pumping out mini album after mini album. Having, in total, six mini albums, and hinting at another is in the works, fans were on the tips of their toes to get a view of this six member group as they emerged onto the stage.
Receiving a mass of cheers, JinJin (leader, rapper), MJ (vocalist), Cha Eun Woo (vocalist), Moonbin (vocalist), Rocky (rapper), and Sanha (vocalist) walked out like they owned the place. Confident, they offered their most recent single, “Always You,” and, after chatting, they continued the show with “Crazy, Sexy, Cool” before the all-time dance move bop “Baby,” After again talking to and answering questions from the MC and fans, they wrapped up the concert on a high note with “I’ll Be There.”
All in all, K-EXPO 2018 had it hiccups. Let’s be honest though, most first time conventions and expos like this one have their issues. This particular one had to face a lot of issues on the back end of having to move venues last minute and working with what they had. They were apologetic, they did what they could, and hopefully they will grow from this experience. While the expo closed with some angered fans, most were still grateful and very happy. Every performer put on amazing shows, even with the crazy circumstances. Here is to hoping All That Group bring back the K-EXPO bigger and better next go around.