This guest entry was written by Arnold Arteaga of Is This How You Kpop? Views and opinions expressed in this entry are solely those of the guest contributor.
Friday was a big day for SHINee, as it marked the quintet’s first full solo concert debut on US soil. The group returned to the Verizon Theatre at Grand Prarie near Dallas, TX for an evening that could only be described as explosively triumphant.
Until now, the SHINee World concert series had only descended upon Asian and South American countries, leaving many fans outside that circuit, myself included, scavenging the internet for glimpses of the show. But with K-pop’s massive popularity hike in the last few years, it was only a matter of time before SM Entertainment granted broader access to one of the most iconic streams of music to ever come out of Korea.
It could easily be argued that SHINee’s back catalog is one of pop (yes, all of pop) music’s strongest in existence. SHINee’s songs are so good, that regardless of how you order them, the outcome will leave anyone in ear-shot dying for more. Which is exactly what went down at Friday night’s SHINee World V extravaganza.
The evening’s program featured cornerstones of SHINee’s extraordinary career, opening quite spectacularly with “Hitchhiking” to a sea of fans that erupted with excitement as the curtains raised to reveal Key, Jonghyun, Onew, Taemin, and Minho on stage ready to take us all into their universe.
You couldn’t help but sing at the top of your lungs as SHINee swept the stage floor with their four backup dancers to anthems like “Why So Serious?” and the classic “Juliette”, the latter of which featured a sweet dance solo from Key, who also served as the sole English speaker for the night (though, props have to go out to the other members for at least attempting to express themselves in the language whenever the group would break to talk to the audience).
Every three or four songs into the program, the concert would pause for a wardrobe change, which there were plenty. In one particular instance, Key took a minute to explained that one of his outfits was actually not what he was supposed to be wearing. What happened was that at SHINee’s last Canada show, his stylist actually set the right outfit (which happened to be Gucci) on a stage lighting device that ended up toasting it. Key went on to lightly drag this individual again later in the show, because how dare they burn a Gucci suit!
Obviously, fashion is a big deal in K-pop, and SHINee is one of the few groups who has experimented the most with their aesthetic. They’re not afraid of color or bold statements and they proved as much on Friday. During “Replay” near the beginning of the show, Jonghyun could be seen in a plaid suit, while Minho wore a shimmery sport coat. As the music transitioned, so did their looks. When Taemin took to the stage for his solo song “Goodbye”, he opted to go shirtless, only wearing a black jacket with long streams dangling off his arms. This, of course, drove the audience absolutely wild. Because what’s hotter than dance-machine Taemin going off in a contemporary dance with no shirt on? I’ll wait.
Immediately following Taemin’s assault on the eyes, the four other members came back out in red, black, and white outfits, which could only mean one thing: it was time for “Ring Ding Dong”.
For someone who has been with SHINee since 2009, it was personally fulfilling to watch this song get performed live for the first time. SHINee is the first boy band I fell in love with; they were my gateway to idoldom. I have a whole blog filled with posts that document my admiration for SHINee that date back to this exact era, so it meant a great deal to see “Ring Ding Dong” revived with a full production. What I found interesting, though, was that the people around me weren’t as familiar with it; their chants were slightly less coherent and just a bit off beat with the song.
But if anything, this was a testament to SHINee’s lasting power. They have been in the game for so long, that their music has spanned through generations of fans, old and new alike. Of course, there are those more iconic numbers that no matter how old or new, will always jolt a fan into a frenzy without fail. Case in point: “Lucifer”.
But if there was one moment when the entire theater lost their minds, it was during SHINee’s performance of “Everybody”.
By this point, SHINee had already popped, locked, and dropped it to “View”, “Ready Or Not”, and “Savior” – all receiving a massive audience response – but the energy in the room reached a new height the moment the backing track to “Everybody” kicked in. This brings to mind something Key said earlier in the concert that a lot of us who seldom experience K-pop live can relate to: “It’s better than YouTube, right?”
For some, the internet is the only avenue they have to access K-pop. It’s one thing to dial in and appreciate the intricacies of the design, performance, and detail of our favorite idols and their complex packages through the internet, and another to see them bringing all of that to life right before our eyes. What’s special about “Everybody” is that it’s one of those songs that is so incredibly ambitious on all those fronts, particularly in its choreography, that, given the opportunity, it would be a true wonder to behold. For those of us in Dallas Friday night, we were granted that privilege.
SHINee World V was an unforgettable two and a half hours of high-energy fun. Though the stage didn’t allow SHINee to move very far, as it was nothing close to the massive stadiums they’re used to, the production team did its best to elevate each and every song. The audience alone was something worthwhile to witness.
Like teams in a sport, light sticks and group colors go hand in hand with the K-pop experience, and not only was seeing that on a massive scale impressive but being a living part of that felt as equally thrilling as it would supporting and cheering on a team at a game.
Only on Friday, our team was SHINee and we bled pearl aqua all over Dallas that night.
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