On March 31, rookie group M.O.N.T. are going to make their Stateside debut with their “Will You By My Mint?” Tour. Starting in LA, they’ll make their way across five US cities, asking of their fanbase, “Will you be my mint?” The tour’s title is a play on the title of their debut single, “Will you be my girlfriend?” It’s certainly a clever way to preemptively get their fans pining for them at every stop.
Truth be told, M.O.N.T. is new to me. They came together under the spotlights and public pressure of yet another YG Entertainment group survival show called “Mixnine.” I’d not watched any of the show (these survival shows have stopped being interesting for me quite some time ago). So I’m truly coming to the group blind. Though it would be easy enough to go back and watch clips of their performances on the show (both as the contestant/trainees and as the unit they’ve ultimately become), that won’t do much to inform me of what I’ll be getting. Not to mention it’s not the same as an actual live experience.
However, that shouldn’t suggest that there aren’t a few things I’m expecting when I walk into Viva’s Lounge on Tuesday evening.
1. A young audience
M.O.N.T. is a young group. Therefore it’s only natural to expect their audience to be the same. Quite frankly, K-pop in its most basic form is a genre geared toward teenagers and younger. Each year, dozens of groups debut, the members starting younger and younger with each cycle. It’s not a stretch to believe I probably won’t see many women in the audience my age (not any who aren’t there to chaperone their kids, that is). Of course, it comes with the territory after being invested in Korean music (and K-pop more specifically in this instance) for as long as I have. But at the very least it’s not going to catch me off-guard if and when I walk into a sea of kids and their parents.
2. A lot of interaction
As the trio only has a handful of songs in their discography thus far, they’re going to need to rely heavily on their interactions with the audience. I suspect there will be quite a few ments (basically moments in which the group stands and talks to the audience), perhaps even a few fan events to fill their time slot. Which leads to my next expectation:
3. Very little original music
As I said, M.O.N.T. doesn’t (yet) have an extensive discography under their belt. Their first single “Will you be my girlfriend” will certainly be their most recognizable. Beyond that, they’ve released two official singles, “He’s thinking about you” (a duet between member Jung Hyun-woo [stage name Narachan] and an artist named Taru and featuring Roda, M.O.N.T.’s rapper) and their latest release, “Sorry.” With so little material, it only makes sense they’d fill the space with cover songs. Their predecessors in K.A.R.D. did it before them. After all, the point of a concert is to hear the music. Otherwise, it becomes a fan event if most of the time is bolstered by a lot of verbal filler. I can’t really say what they’ll opt for in terms of their cover songs. Most likely they’ll reach back into their “Mixnine” past and draw on the performances they offered while they were still vying for their current slots in the group. That segues perfectly into my next expectation:
4. A LOT of dancing
Though it would make sense for them to try to incorporate a variety of performance styles into their first US tour, the fact remains with so little original music and their status as a new group, they’ve got to find a way to keep audiences engaged. Now, a lot of that will have to do with their already established base of loyal fans. However, for those just getting into them, something’s got to catch their eye. Of course, fan interaction goes a long way. But many of these venues are standing-room only. To keep people from wanting to just find seats at the back, I imagine a great deal of action has to be going on on-stage. Eye-catching choreography, and plenty of it works twofold: 1) It ensures the audience remains focused on the stage, and 2) it means the music will be high-energy.
5. A short set
All things considered, a lot of talking, a fistful of original and (probably) several cover songs doesn’t make for a very long show. My final expectation is that this will probably run no longer than 45 minutes. There are a few reasons for this. Beyond the lack of material, the show is set on a Tuesday evening. Kids have school. Parents have jobs. It doesn’t really help their cause if they have a show that goes on for several hours. Also no matter how much fan engagement you incorporate into a show, a minimal discography will only get you so far. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A shorter show, if done well, leaves audiences hungry for more. By whetting the fan appetite, they’ll be sure to come back for more. M.O.N.T. can count on their established fans to be ready and waiting. However, any new fans (or newcomers) will need something to tithe them over until they boys get further along.
My expectations aren’t extensive. But as I’ve mentioned several times, M.O.N.T. isn’t an established group. I’m very interested to see what they can do in front of an audience of their US fans. With the success of their European tour, I’ve no doubt they’ll make a name for themselves worldwide, riding the wave of K-pop’s overwhelming visibility in the States in the last couple of years.