Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Convention Center and Staples Center was the site for a series of events celebrating all things Korean pop culture, hosting the 2019 leg of KCON Los Angeles. The sequel to July’s KCON 2019 New York, held at the Javits Center and Madison Square Garden, KCON 2019 LA offered up a wide array of content and programming over Aug. 15-18, with concerts on the 17th and 18th serving as the main attraction. With over a dozen K-pop acts in attendance, this year more than ever before turned its eyes towards rising newer acts, such as girl groups ITZY and Loona, and put a larger emphasis than ever before on female-oriented acts, like vocal-pop group Mamamoo and Japanese-Korean team IZ*ONE.
Visa issues unfortunately kept soloist Chung Ha, girl group Everglow, and boy band Oneus from appearing at KCON 2019 LA, but the main concert events, which will be broadcast in Korea the television show M! Countdown on Mnet -- the cable channel that has helped launch the careers of many of the artists in attendance at KCON 2019 LA -- were full of excitement and sensational performances from many K-pop stars.
Each Night Kicked Off with Epic Special Stages
The first concert opened with a riotous rendition cover by ATEEZ of senior KQ Entertainment labelmates Block B’s “Very Good,” originally released in 2013. It was then followed by an explosive rendition of BTS’ 2017 hit “Not Today” from Loona, with the 12-member team putting their own spin on things; they would later perform brief snippets of choreography from BTS’ “Fire” as well as “Cherry Bomb” by NCT 127 and Seventeen’s “Thanks.”
The following night opened up with a fierce performance from Stray Kids’ rapper-producing trio 3racha. The three were quickly joined by band NFlying, who had a late-career revival earlier this year thanks to breakout song "Rooftop" several years after debuting with their first Korean single in 2015. They opened the night with rock renditions of Mamamoo’s “Gogobebe” and ITZY’s “Dalla Dalla,” which both acts would perform later in the night to major cheers from the crowd.
Rookies Were Everywhere
While the concerts at the Staples Center on Saturday and Sunday were the headlining events of KCON 2019 LA, Friday (Aug. 16) witnessed the first ever KCON Rookies concert, featuring ATEEZ, LOONA, and AB6IX, three popular, newer K-pop groups; Oneus was also set to attend but was unable to. The event featured introductions to each group and its members, who played games before performing, and preceded a heavy orientation at the main shows towards newly-established K-pop groups.
The main concert events at KCON Los Angeles witnessed the first-ever Stateside concert performances from LOONA and ITZY, two newer girl groups, and also featured rising acts like AB6IX, ATEEZ, IZ*ONE, Stray Kids, and Verivery, all of which put out their first albums in either 2018 or 2019 and many of whom have already gained sizable followings in the U.S., especially Stray Kids and ATEEZ who have both toured in the country this year.
Queen, Naomi Scott & More Got the Cover Treatment
Along with the previously-mentioned covers, several other stand-out moments at KCON featured artists putting their own spin on songs performed originally by non-Korean artists. Ranging from the likes of NFlying ramping up the energy at the Staples Center with a Queen medley to Mamamoo’s Solar stunning with her rendition of Naomi Scott’s “Speechless” from the Aladdin soundtrack, KCON’s special stages were a major highlight of the weekend.
KCON LA - 솔라 SPECIAL STAGE- SPEECHLESS pic.twitter.com/XXwBx8U5VW— solar pics (@kyongsunarchive) August 19, 2019
Female Acts Reigned
For years, KCON has heavily veered towards male acts, but this year’s Los Angeles event featured the lineup leveling out, with six female teams countering the eight boy bands in attendance. While the male acts -- including SF9, and concert-closers NU’EST (Saturday) and Seventeen (Sunday), each of which had appeared at KCON NY and, as at that event, performed not only singles but also offered up some B-sides -- served up dynamic performances that had the Staples Center crowd singing and dancing along, the two nights saw the audience come together en masse to cheer on the girl groups.
While energy was high for all of the acts, the Staples Center simply overflowed with enthusiasm and energy when it came to the appearance of each female act that arrived on stage.
Whether it was welcoming ITZY and LOONA to the U.S. with roars of approval for their captivating performances or dancing along to Momoland and fromis_9’s viral hits like "Bboom Bboom" and a remix of "Love Bomb" or joining Mamamoo -- who still dominated the stage as a trio even though they were down a member due to Wheein falling ill before heading to L.A. -- KCON 2019 LA was a surefire sign that K-pop fans in the U.S. are ready and waiting for even more estrogen to head over the Pacific in the future.
Ahead of the airing of KCON 2019 LA on M! Countdown, check out some videos from the concerts shared through KCON’s official Twitter account below.