Nowadays, there’s a certain amount of freedom that comes with being a rookie group. With all the work of mostly the second generation and the further globalization of K-pop thanks in no small part to the likes of BTS and BLACKPINK, many of the new kids get the chance to explore international markets. Case in point, trio M.O.N.T. On March 31, they embarked on their first US Tour just months after their official debut.
The boy group’s second stop was on April 2 at Dallas’s Viva’s Lounge. Their greenness meant the venue was relatively small. Then again, a smaller venue means a more intimate connection with the audience. That, more than anything else, is what made this stop on their “Will you be my mint?” Tour so successful.
Before the show even begins, the crowd is all abuzz with excitement. Official lightsticks and light-up headbands bob around the venue. Most of the young fans are glued to the front of the stage (until the concert promoters inform them to step back so they can put up a rope barrier). One can feel the anticipation in the air. It zips around Viva’s Lounge like buzzing electricity. Smiling faces, eager shouts and excited giggles. Before the group even alights the stage, the place is filled to the brim with excitement.
The show opens with a short video projected on a screen above the stage. Already the tone is set. This is a concert heavily dependent on a fanbase that already knows the quirks and charms of the three members. Once the video concludes, the house lights dim further, and the stage explodes in purples and pinks. The audience, unsurprisingly, erupts with shouts and screams for their favorite rookies.
From the first note, the boys of M.O.N.T have an energy that pours over the audience in pulsating waves. They’re all smiles and elated tones when they engage with the mid-sized crowd of their beloved MINTs. If you’ll remember from my post mapping out my expectations for the tour, I theorized that a huge part of the show was going to be the group’s ability to interact with the fans. Well, I wasn’t wrong. Between songs, the boys take time to speak to the audience. They share their own excitement, lead vocalist Narachan exclaiming, “How are you? Are you excited?” to raucous high-pitched affirmations from the crowd.
When they launch into their lead single “Will you be my girlfriend?”, every person in the audience understandably goes wild. This brings brighter smiles to the faces of the three young men. They dance with what seems like unwavering vigor, never letting their smiles falter, never breaking seeming collective eye contact with everyone in attendance.
Of course, with as few songs as they actually have to their credit, it’s only natural that the majority of the music featured at the concert is from other, more notable idol groups. Main vocalist Bitsaeon asks, “Do you like K-pop?” To which the audience readily answers with a thunderous bellow. He then asks “What are your favorite groups?” An ecstatic MINT shouts, “YOU!” Of course, this gets a shy but appreciative giggle from all three members before they launch into a cover of BTS’s “GOGO,” a song they’ve performed while busking in the streets of Warsaw. Throughout the night, they’d perform covers from BLACKPINK (“Du Du Du”), Bruno Mars (“Uptown Funk” and “Runaway Baby”) and a Chipette rendition of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.”
The most common thread throughout the show, however, was M.O.N.T’s endearing interactions with their fans. Of course there were the requisite games (a somewhat convoluted game called “mind reader” where fans brought up on stage and the members of M.O.N.T had to simultaneously pantomime the catch phrase). However, it was the moments during songs and in between that really made this show so good. They didn’t hesitate to high five those standing as close to the “barricade” as possible. They gave their smiles freely, threw out a barrage of finger hearts and, as a I mentioned, made eye contact with everyone.
Each member comes out to highlight their own specialty (Roda his rapping, Narachan his dancing and Bitsaeon his vocal range with a stirring rendition of Josh Groban’s anthemic “You Raise Me Up”). Never once did they let down on their interactions with the audience.
In spite of the lack of original material (and a not-so-spectacular sound system), M.O.N.T’s stop in Dallas was memorable. It’s very rare that one can go to a K-pop show and be so fully immersed with the members of the group. The young men of M.O.N.T were determined to make sure their fans knew they were appreciated and loved. If nothing else, the “Will you be my mint?” Tour bodes well for the trio in terms of the lasting mark they’ll have on anyone who becomes a fan. They certainly left a positive impression on me.
(Featured image via M.O.N.T Official Facebook page, Photos by Cy.)