Kpop concerts are a growing trend in the USA. What use to be a once a year occurrence has now expanded to what seems to be one every few months. In just the first two months of 2016 there was already the massively popular group Infinite, and next month EXO, arguably one of the biggest groups in the world today. Because of the rising number of concerts, a larger number of people are getting the opportunity to go to these events as they hit major cities around the country. But that also raises a lot of questions as to how these events are run and what exactly goes on at a Kpop concert. It can be said that the experience is rather unique and once you attend one, you have a growing desire to attend them all. This article will try to explain what to expect and how to prepare for heading to concerts.
What is the difference between a concert and a fanmeeting?
Both of these things have appeared recently and they continue to confuse people as they wonder what the differences are. A fanmeeting will have several songs just like a normal concert, but they also leave time for more fan interaction. Instead of just getting on stage and performing, the group has a chance to connect on a more intimate level with those that are attending. Sometimes this includes games that invite members of the audience on stage to take part with the group members. It varies from event to event in regards to who gets selected for these games. Sometimes the group members will select people themselves, either based on how energetic a person is, what they are wearing or just something that stands out to them. This is often limited to the first few rows since that is what the group can most easily see. Other times there will be contests put on by the promoters in the weeks leading up the concert. For the Got7 showcase that was held last year in May, Jazzy Group selected people by random lot to play musical chairs with the group. They also had a dance and song cover contest where they selected 7 of the best videos and those winners went on stage to play an identify game with the group. Winners knew ahead of time and were given instructions the day of the concert as to wear to go when it was their turn to go on stage. This was open to anyone attending and wasn’t limited to just the first few rows. A lot of this depends on the company bringing the group and the ability of the venue to accommodate getting people on and off stage easily.
Concerts usually have more songs and a small question and answer session where the group will talk about what they have been doing and answer questions that were either pre-selected by the promoters or were asked of fans while they were waiting in line. Sometimes they will award prizes to those whose questions were asked, usually items like signed posters or concert gear. This is not a definite at every concert however and most of these kinds of perks depends on the rules of the companies involved. Concerts on average are longer then fan meets with more songs and less interaction. It isn’t unusual for a fanmeeting to last barely an hour and a half where a concert is usually over two hours long.
How hard is it to get tickets and what are the perks?
It is almost always the case that tickets will get announced with a very short window of time before they are open to be purchased. Many times you will only have 1 week to plan before tickets become available. Ticketmaster and AXS are the two main companies that are used for selling kpop concert tickets. Ticket websites are determined by the venue that the concert is taking place in. Promoters generally have no control over what system is going to be used. For some groups, be prepared to be at your computer and ready to pounce as soon as tickets go on sale for the best seats will often sell out in minutes. Familiarize yourself with the website before the day they go on sale. Get yourself an account so that you can just have all your information already entered when it is time. This will save a lot of headaches later when the site becomes laggy due to everyone being on it all at once.
There are often several price tiers in regards to tickets. They range from roughly $60 to $200 depending on the perks and the proximity of the seats. The closer the seats, the higher the price tag. But these seats also will come with several perks to make paying that kind of price seem a little more bearable. Often times the highest tiers will come with either Hi-touch, which is high-fiving all the members of the group, or a group photo, which usually involves at least 10 other people. Each of these perks is a very brief moment with the group in a more personal environment.
For Hi-tough everyone is lined up and filed into a room where the group is standing with their hands up, ready to high-five you. You basically get 10 seconds to hi-five each member while maintaining a constant forward motion which will be greatly policed by venue staff. You will usually have time to say something quick to each member if you have it will planned out. This is usually not filmed and staff will generally yell at you to put away all cell phones and recording devices otherwise they will pull you out of line. There are no photographs during this time.
For group photos, this is a group of usually about 10-15 people. The group is already inside the room, either sitting in chairs or standing up against a backdrop. Depending on the venue, those in the photo will either file in front of them or be standing behind them. The photographer will tell you to pose, snap a quick photo and then staff will usher you out. There is no filming and photos will be available online usually a few days after the concert is over. Again, this is kept very quick and efficient to try and maximize the amount of photos that can be done. Concerts are on great time restraints and everything has to be over by a certain time, which means the staff will make sure no one idles around or tries to spend too much time trying to speak with the group. You will not be allowed to touch the group usually unless they initiate it. They will quickly usher everyone out so that the next group can have their turn. However, after it is all over you will be left with a momento of the photo.
In some cases the perks could be tour merchandise such as a light stick or a t-shirt or water bottle. It really varies with each concert and depends a lot on the promotors as well as what the group’s management company will allow.
Can we take pictures?
This depends on the venue and the company. Keep in mind that usually when it comes to rules around the concert, these are set not by the promoters who are bringing the group but rather the management company of the actual group. In most cases, DSLR cameras with removable lens and any sort of recording devices are going to be strictly forbidden unless you are a member of press or staff. In some cases, such as with BTS, photos are restricted even to the point of not being able to take them with your phone. This is heavily policed by BigHit Entertainment and often times anyone that is caught taking photos will be removed from the concert. Sometimes smaller cameras will be allowed but sometimes it isn’t good to even risk trying. Many venues have no rules against phones being used, but once again it is at the discretion of the management company. It has already been announced that anyone trying to take photos or video during the EXO concerts in February will get removed from the building. This even includes cell phones. Management companies have the right to dictate what can and cant be done and they will crack down on anyone that isn’t following the rules. Be sure to be aware of this before heading to the concert. Also make sure and check the rules for the venues. The Staples Center in LA and the Prudential Center in New Jersey both have bag checks and metal detectors that are mandatory to go through when walking in the door. They will find anything that is attempted to be smuggled in so make sure you read the rules for the venue.
Photos and video during the fan events such as hi-touch and group photos is strictly forbidden. Once again, if you are caught attending to take pictures while you are in line, they will remove you from your spot and you will lose your perks.
How early do I have to get to the concert?
If you have a seated ticket, its always good to arrive about an hour before the show so that you have time to make it through the line and get to your seat. If you have a general admission ticket, there is really no set time for getting in line. Some people get in line the night before in order to get the best spots, but depending on the city this is not necessarily advisable. Also many venues will try to discourage this sort of behavior and will set up guards or send people home who try to get in line too early. Sometimes the promoters will set up a numbering system so that people will not have to wait in line for hours, particularly in extreme weather. This is usually the best tactic but is hard to police and takes usually more volunteers then the company has available in order to police it. If they are going to be doing any sort of line system, generally the promoters will announce this prior to the concert.
Can I give the artists gifts?
This really depends on the management company. Groups like VIXX have strict gift policies. For the most part they tell people not to bring gifts because they will not be able to accept them. Sometimes the promoters will provide boxes where gifts and letters can be deposited before the show with the promise that they will be delivered to the artists. Sometimes letters will be permitted but actual gifts are not.
keep in mind that anything the artists are given, are going to have to fit in their luggage as they not only travel home but also as they travel between cities on a tour. Anything that might not fit in their carry on or checked baggage could potentially get left before. Remember this before spending hundreds of dollars. It is always good to check with the promoters to see if gifts are going to be allowed.
You will NOT be allowed to hand them gifts during hi-touch or the photo opportunities. A lot of the times if staffers see someone trying to hand an item to a group member they will confiscate it immediately. It is best not to take the chance and to just rely on the items being put in boxes before the concert. Do not ask for autographs or hugs during the fan meet style perks either because this will be strictly frowned upon and could get you removed.
For any concert it is important to check the rules that the promoters post as well as the general rules of the venue. A lot of times they will not allow large bags or backpacks into the venue at all. These are things you need to find out before you go. There is nothing worse then standing in line for hours only to be turned away at the door because you tried to bring in something that is not allowed.
The most important thing about going to a kpop concert is to have fun. If you stress out about being up front or what you can and can’t bring then you forget the real reason you are going. You are going to be able to see your favorite kpop stars in person and not through a computer screen. Don’t forget that simple important piece and you’ll have a great time no matter where you are sitting. Good luck with heading to future concerts!