This past month, K-Pop royalty and global superstar G-Dragon made his return to the United States for his "Act 3: Moment of Truth - the End (M.O.T.T.E)" tour. After a string of successful dates throughout the country, he touched down at New York City's fresh venue the Barclays Center for a several hour extravaganza of a show, complete with everything from shifting stage parts to pyrotechnics. He showed off a mix of solo material both new and old, and enraptured fans with his powerful performance and commanding stage presence.
The show started off with a couple of throwback tracks from his debut album, with "Heartbreaker" and "Breathe" both eliciting huge reactions from fans. The show juxtaposed the joy of fireworks and aggressive dancing against projected imagery including CCTV cameras and PVC leather suits. It could be said that G-Dragon was making a point about being watched through this motif, which he later elaborated on during a speech about his celebrity life differing from his personal life.
As the show went on, fans were treated to a series of numbers with heavier choreography and more action on the stage. By the time "Michigo" started pumping through the speakers, the arena lit up with excitement, and the supporting band's tough grooves had everyone on their feet. The excitement didn't stop there though, as the crowd later joined in a singalong to "R.O.D" and essentially popped off when the projector screen revealed the face of GD's label mate and long time collaborator CL.
Towards the midway point of the show, the venue changed the curtains and stage set during a band jam. It's worth noting that the support band assembled for the tour was both spectacularly talented and diverse, with a mix of performers from different backgrounds (and several multi-instrumentalists). The jam eventually gave way to a vulnerable performance of "That XX," to which the crowd sang along - even to the curse in the chorus. The song transitioned into a manic and emotional remix version with great results, and it was clear the crowd appreciated the update.
The slower section continued with the Sky Ferreira-featuring version of "Black," which once again caused the crowd to pop off with energy. It was at this point that one couldn't help but wonder how much more potent the show would be if it featured guest performances, but GD brought the attention back to his wonderful self as he started letting loose during numbers like "Missing You." This eventually gave way to a surprisingly sexually potent performance of "I Like It," where Kwon Ji Yong was joined by four petite women in multicolored wigs - perhaps a hint at Black Pink's next concept? (I kid, I kid).
As the show started drawing towards its conclusion, fans were shown a video featuring interviews with G-Dragon's family and friends. The VCR discussed the differences between G-Dragon the performer and Kwon Ji Yong the person, and it elicited great reactions to both jokes and emotional realizations. The featuring of his parents seemed to impress a lot of fans, as many idols choose to keep their personal life super closely guarded. Later, the video screen showed a tense solo interlude about how G-Dragon perceives himself. He was awkward and quiet, shuffling his hands and adjusting his clothes a lot as if he had something weighing on his mind. He used this tension to finally transition into songs from his new album, and the crowd stood at attention and threw their "middle fingers up" on command.
Before the last song, G-Dragon gave an English language speech about not knowing what's next for his future. It was clear that the burden of enlistment was on his mind, though the moment connected well with fans during what's been an anxious time for the entire world. He then closed with "Divine Comedy," the bittersweet Daft Punk-evoking track from his latest album. A return to the stage with "Crooked" and "Untitled" got one of the biggest crowd reactions of the night, and fans were able to leave on an emotional but pleasant note.
To keep it simple - G-Dragon is earning his keep. This international solo tour de force proves definitively that he has the hits, stage presence, charisma and creative vision necessary to be a bonafide world star. In taking on one of the biggest venues in New York City, G-Dragon showcased the kind of power he has in the worldwide music conversation. Whether he was dancing up a sweat, crooning a ballad, or striking fear into fans' hearts with imagery of a dystopian surveillance based society, G-Dragon was solidifying his legacy.