On May 21st, 2012 MBC and Google set out to make history at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California with 'Korean Music Wave in Google'. The two forces joined together for an unforgettable concert that drew in a crowd of over 25,000 made up of casual K-pop listeners to fanatics, and even some who experienced the phenomena for the first time that night. The event was also streamed live through YouTube all over the world making this the most globally watched K-pop concert in history.
With the announcement of the concert being made public with free admission, fans bookmarked the ticket distribution site, cleared out their schedules for the weekend, as well as setting multiple alarms for May 12th 7:00 PM PST in preparation of the tickets going live. Although the notice was short, fans' readiness was demonstrated by the crash of Powerhouse's page even before the site went live and tickets ran out within an hour despite the constant server errors.
With the exception of Google employees and MBC staff, who had VIP tickets, everyone else who managed to get an email voucher or ticket had no choice but to camp out or park themselves in line at the wee hours of the morning in order to secure seats up close near the action, or else face the massive lines that later went so far beyond that the end of the line was not even visible.
At 5:00 PM PST, the gates opened up and fans rushed forward pushing, shoving, and nudging one another, losing a shoe in the process, falling over barriers, and surprising the ticket checkers, who seemed quite overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of K-Pop fans.
After a fight to secure the best seats possible, fans waited patiently for another two hours before the vice president of MBC and the head of entertainment from YouTube stepped out to officially open up the ceremony. After the initial words, the display changed to a countdown announcing the beginning of the concert. Energy was high and excited screams filled the air. Despite the 12+ hours of waiting for many, it was surprising to see how much energy the audience was able to muster up to cheer for the opening of the concert.
To kick off the concert was KARA with their highly popular track, "Step". The crowd went wild as the girls showcased a perfect live performance in adorable, white outfits followed by a short talk session. Nicole, who grew up in the States, made the fans laugh as she stumbled over her own words and quickly blurted, "I'm so nervous!" The group then introduced the hosts for the night, who were none other than Girls' Generation's very own Taeyeon and Tiffany.
Dressed to dazzle in a short red dress to compliment her vibrant hair, Tiffany charmed the audience with her fluent English, while Taeyeon shined with her smooth emceeing skills in an elegant orange gown. The girls drew much cheer from the crowd, and introduced the next act, which were the fine men of MBLAQ.
As the center screen/doors slid open, the members of MBLAQ emerged dressed to impress in sharply tailored, black and white suits. They launched right into their latest hit "This is War" much to the screams of A+ and the K-Pop lover filled audience. Fans could be heard singing along and their enthusiasm did not die down as the boys continued into their next song, "Y". The members managed to somehow look unruffled and handsome as ever even while struggling to catch their breath as they concluded two powerful performances in a row. The group drew many ear piercing fangirl screams as they took the time to converse with the audience with Thunder introducing in English their next track in the line up, "Oh Yeah".
As MBLAQ made their leave, SISTAR made their entrance in classy, yet subtly sexy black and gold outfits. Belting out "Alone", they left fans mesmerized with their "crane leg dance" and flawless vocals. Up next was their trademark body wave choreography with their catchy track, "Ma Boy", and along with it came the screams and shouts of male and female fans. It also seemed the Shoreline staff standing guard in the aisle nearby could not help but glance behind to sneak glimpses at the girls as he bumped along to the music. The girls then greeted the audience in their upbeat manner and Dasom flaunting a bit of English as fan service before they drove the crowd wild again with their hit track, "So Cool".
f(x) came next with "Pinocchio (Danger)" and continued their performance with their hit track "Hot Summer", ironically, as the weather started to get chilly. However for the moment, the girls left the audience oblivious to the temperature drop as they witnessed live the adorable choreography that had won their hearts through their computer and TV screens at home. The group shined during their talk session as Amber, feeling right at home having been raised in California, riled up the audience asking them to shout even louder and bringing laughter asking Krystal, another Californian, if she was "gonna go crazy". Krystal responded with the classic, "duh!" much to the amusement of the audience. The group then launched into "NU ABO" to finish off their performance with a bang.
The audience was then treated to two special performances from Wonder Girls' Sun and Girls' Generation's Seohyun. Sun put on a beautiful cover of Insooni's "Father" in remembrance of her late father and to express the importance of showing one's appreciation and love for one's father. Almost like it had been planned, the audience swayed their arms in unison as she sung the moving song. Seohyun was up next with a song of a completely different feel, covering Cherry Filter's "Flying Duck". With her punk rock transformation complete with a pink guitar around her neck, Seohyun delivered an upbeat crowd pleaser.
To finish up the performance they started earlier, KARA was back with a change in outfit. The girls had the audience bobbing along to "Lupin", before following up with the last track, "Mister". As soon as the girls announced "Mister" as their next song, the crowd roared in approval and all eyes were on the girls as they performed their wildly popular "hip dance". The song had even the uncle fans in the audience moving to the beat while also trying to steady their hands to capture every moment of the girls with their cameras and phones.
After a line up of several girl groups, B2ST brought back the male force as they stepped out in studded grey suits. It seemed the audience, at least the fan girls, were ready for some male presence, as the screams were deafening. To the crowd of thousands of screaming fans, the group put on performances of "Shock", followed by the extremely popular, "Fiction". Banners and signs were waved in the air nonstop throughout the performances even as fans concentrated to absorb every lasting detail of their favorite member. The group then brought out "Beautiful", which had the audience singing along to the familiar catchy tune.
Up next was another girl group who definitely had many on the verge of hyperventilation. Opening up their part of the show with "The Boys", Girls' Generation had the audience shouting "Girls' Generation makes you feel the heat!" The same Shoreline staff member was back in the aisle again and it seemed he was also captivated by the power and beauty of the seven ladies in their sparkling outfits, as he seemed unable to take his eyes off of them. The girls then explained the absence of members YoonA and Yuri, who had to stay back due to their dramas, and adorably asked the crowd for their support as they were standing on stage as seven rather than nine. The audience drank it all up as they cheered on the girls with loud screams. Performing "Taxi", followed by "Gee", fans went nuts as they sang their hearts out and danced along.
The globally popular Wonder Girls continued the energy as they asked everyone, "Be My Baby", showcasing an upbeat performance that had the audience chanting the chorus line. The girls then launched into an old favorite, "Tell Me", which seemed to bring back memories for many K-pop fans who all shouted "Omona" right along with Sohee. The years spent in the U.S. were put to good use as the group showed excellent command of English as all the members were able to communicate with the audience fluently. Yenny even brought the whole venue on their feet as she taught them the famous choreography to their next song, "Nobody". The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement as everyone sang along and followed along with the choreography.
Then came one of the biggest names in K-pop, Super Junior. The group definitely made an impression as they made the most dramatic entrance of the night. Some of the members emerged from the middle of the venue and walked past the fans as they made their way down the aisle onto the stage for an unforgettable performance of "Superman". The group then launched into "Mr. Simple" before introducing themselves to the audience. Their introduction and greeting were definitely one of the most memorable of the night as the members energetically shouted, "We are Super JuniUH". Leeteuk also had the crowd laughing as he asked "My name is..? My name is..?", to which the crowd shouted back, "Leeteuk! Leeteuk!", and he answered, "Wow, you're genius!" The group then brought the house down with their final performance with the song that every K-pop lover knows - "Sorry Sorry".
The prestigious last stage went to the group often referred to as the "Gods of K-pop", TVXQ. The duo lived up to their nickname as they left the audience awestruck with a fearsome performance of "Keep Your Head Down". They then slowed things down and delivered spot on live vocals with "Before You Go". Even out of breath, the two took the time to thank the fans who cheered them on so loudly. Yunho expressed that despite feeling a bit physically drained after traveling from Korea along with performing at LA prior to this performance, he was so energized by the crowd that he couldn't help but give it his all. He and Changmin then pumped up the stage asking the crowd, "Are you ready?! Are you ready?!" before diving into the final performance of the night with "Rising Sun".
They say that all good things must come to an end, and this concert was no exception as all the artists were brought out on the stage for the last time to bid farewell to the audience. Taeyeon and Tiffany closed off the unforgettable night with their final commentary, and Leeteuk reminded us about the message this concert hoped to bring as he eloquently stated, "Our languages and our appearances may be different, but we became united as one with music." The groups then all lent their voices for the traditional Korean song, "Arirang", and were also joined in by many audience members who also sang or hummed along, savoring the final moments of the night.
Photos: Edaily, JoyNews, Joins, MBC