Read on for our review and coverage of last weekend’s MBC Festival in London.
For a long time it seemed touch and go that the MBC Festival would actually happen; it was “confirmed” earlier this year and then we heard nothing for several months. However, the organisers do what they do best and released all information at the last minute, sending all UK Kpop fans into a complete frenzy.
Apart from United Cube which pretty much cost teenage/student/unemployed K-pop fans nearly an arm and a leg, the UK has been very lucky with concert prices and concert venues. First we saw SHINee at the Odeon, where there were about 800 fans present with tickets costing between £20-£30, and then we got the MBC festival at the wonderful IndigO2 venue for tickets ranging from £12 to £15. The venue had about 2500 fans and tickets were sold out in about half an hour. Have to say, seems the UK gets pretty sweet deals! Can’t complain about that.
Various projects were lined up for the event; we had our own message books sorted for each K-pop group where fans could write special messages for them, a massive well done goes to the JJL project and 4Minute UK for the glow sticks (Thanks!) and a K-pop flashmob was organised by one of the KCC’s KPop Academy graduates, along with the many Norazo fans we handed out. MBC crew members were seen by all, filming everything from K-pop fans, doing interviews and filming the flashmob. Rumour has it that the footage will be shown in a documentary next month, make sure you check it out and maybe you’ll see yourself!
Now before I go on to talk about the concert I have to say that there were some issues with the organisation. First of all people were having trouble with tickets and seating, then for some reason a queue was set up outside the venue which then changed so everyone went through the main IndigO2 doors inside in the end, but finally (and the worst of all) they were letting some fans into the venue late which resulted in some fans missing some performances, although this could be chalked up to numbers of fans. I walked in the midst a drum performance which seemed pretty epic. It’s really disrespectful towards the performers; they’ve flown all the way from Korea to perform for those who have paid to see all performances, yet there they are giving their all on stage in front of an audience that wasn’t at full capacity. Not only that, people walking in were preoccupied trying to find their seats so they couldn’t concentrate on the performance. As soon as we were seated, 4minute came on. That’s such bad timing! People paid for tickets to see the concert in it’s entirety, with time to be seated, but as soon as many stepped inside the concert was already in motion, which was a bit disappointing. What did you think?
However, 4Minute were amazing. Their live vocals were top notch and got the crowd going, singing their newest release “Volume Up” first, which led to other popular singles such as “HuH”, “Mirror Mirror” and of course “Hot Issue”, where they made sure the fans got involved by making them sing “Hot Issue!”, they seemed impressed by the fans’ knowledge of their lyrics. There were many 4nia’s in the audience waving their glow sticks given by 4Minute UK, and I’m sure it was heartwarming for 4Minute to see their fans back after already performing in the UK for their fans last year.
Culture performances included a solo stunt/gymnast-like act which was completely mesmerising, a female instrumental group called QUEEN who played a variety of tunes on traditional Korean instruments, including the Mission Impossible theme tune! Next were the Samul Nori, a group of men playing a variety of percussion instruments, while at the same time dancing around the stage and swinging their heads so that the ribbon on their hats were constantly swirling. Wow! It was a long performance but one that surely requires a lot of energy, skill and stamina. A major “well done” to these guys! Afterwards it became a joint performance from all three acts and QUEEN performed Arirang.
The next K-pop act was Norazo. When I first heard that they were performing, I thought “Who the on earth are they?” Now, I don’t listen to every K-pop act but I’ve surely heard most of them at least, but the name “Norazo” was completely new to my ears, and it turns out that a lot of K-pop fans didn’t know them either! They were certainly famous amongst Koreans however. When I first heard they were performing I did think it was a shame that another K-pop act that the UK knew hadn’t taken that place, because I would have thought it would be hard for the performers to win over a crowd who don’t know who they are and was a bit apprehensive for them. However, after seeing them perform, the great thing about not knowing what they were going to be like was that they turned out to be the biggest surprise of the evening and definitely a major highlight!
They exploded onto the stage showing off their massive personalities, crazy live vocals (these guys have some serious vocal talents), guitar skills, random dance sequences (totally learning the arm pit dance) and simply the best fanservice of the night. They were completely unapologetic and performed like they were performing in front of a crowd that had been life-long fans. The audience went crazy for them, and I have to admit I totally joined in with their unique dancing! Their English was hilariously endearing (Myu-zik Start-ohhh!) and they were throwing their t-shirts, hats and footballs into the audience. Such an energetic set and a performance filled with a lot of confidence. They may have been unknown at first but they definitely gained new fans! Major high 5 to Norazo for soaring past my expectations of them and for taking on what could have been a potentially difficult challenge. It could have been awkward, but they made it epic! Well done. Hope they come back! The organisers definitely made a good choice bringing them over.
There was also a K-pop Cover dance team called Dae2bak which was comprised of French dancers. They absolutely did not disappoint as they performed a very energetic set and danced to popular crowd pleasing songs, such as Dalmatian’s “E.R”, BIGBANG’s “Fantastic Baby”, Wonder Girls’ “Be My Baby”, U-Kiss “Dora Dora” and more, and they really got the crowd going and chanting. One of the dancers from the team is going to be at LoKo’s next workshop this coming Sunday, so make sure to come along!
There was of course the Hanbok fashion show, which was modelled by 3 members of 4Minute (Sohyun, Jiyoon and Jihyun), Korean models, and even middle Eastern and British models. All designs were by the Hanbok designer Park Sul Nyeo, who made an appearance at the end of the fashion show to accept a ruptuous round of applause. The designs were a mixture of traditional to original, with a wide range of colours and for different occasions; some for weddings, royal hanbok, modern hankbok. It was a real mixture and was great to see the Hanbok used with such versatility.
Last but not least…the K-pop group that mostly everyone was waiting for. The green glowsticks came out and the chanting of “EXO! EXO! EXO!” begun. As the boys came on stage the venue had to endure deafening screams from fangirls and fanboys alike as the opening tune from History burst out of the speakers. EXO-K of course put on a spellbinding and flawless performance with their perfect dancing skills. Their second song “Angel” was a delight, as it was their first time performing it. What a great treat for UK fans! I managed to film the entire dance, so if you want to watch that you can check that out below! Last but not least they sang their debut song “MAMA”, and this was their live performance. The entire audience burst out screaming once again and began chanting to the famous lines “Careless, careless, shoot anonymous, anonymous…” It was a great first performance for Exo in the UK; not only because it’s such a famous venue but because the fans were so explosive with their love and support. Barely 3 months into their debut and they already have such a strong fanbase here. It was a shame their set was so short as both K-pop groups sang 4 songs each instead of 3, but at least EXO were there and people were able to see them perform. Let’s hope they’ll be back in the future!
All in all it was a great night apart from the organisation. Who was your favourite act and why? Leave your comments below!
Here are some pictures from our photographer Jackie.