Better Than: Middle-school dances
There's a lot to live up to when your group name is an acronym for "Best Absolute Perfect." The six-member K-pop boy band B.A.P. performed last night at Club Nokia; featured was their elaborate fictional backstory about how they hail from the war-torn, alien planet Mato, which is ruled by a giant bunny who's tasked the group with harvesting positive energy from Earth. (The full name of the show is -- take a deep breath -- "Verizon Presents APAHM Concert Tour 2013: B.A.P Live on Earth.")
B.A.P. appeared on stage in white military costumes with baroque embellishments. Some of them also sported hairstyle embellishments, like silver toning, surely the envy of Final Fantasy characters.
Including the members, there were 12 dancers on stage, along with two hydraulic lifts and a giant LED screen in the background. It was a set design fit for a larger venue, but they somehow pulled it off, especially with stadium-thumping songs like "No Mercy" playing.
At various points the guys showed off their "Dougie" skills, and we learned something about them each: Young Jae is a nail biter, it turns out, who only recently lost his "baby stomach fat." He also has "stunning forearms" and is often moody (perhaps because he's hungry).
They also performed some R. Kelly.
Like other K-Pop bands, they use varied music styles. In general, the group shines when they're doing R&B and hip-hop, but when rock-infused and teenybopper elements get thrown in the mix it doesn't quite work.
"We're like a white paper now, on which can have any kinds of drawing," group leader Bang Yong Guk has said. "On the contrary to this, our music is black. All members love African-American music as it has soul. If we can be born again, we want to be born as African-Americans and do their music."
One wonders if something was lost in translation.
In any case, the show took a strange turn when the audience was shown a montage of photos of really sad people suffering from hunger, war and strife. Then again, maybe we were just selfish bastards for withholding positive energy from their planet, or whatever.
Cool photo of the fans below
The weirdest thing about B.A.P live? They just look like a bunch of normal dudes. Sure, there's a lot of showboating and pageantry, but B.A.P. did not appear as guyliner'd and over-the-top as they do in their music videos.
In fact, they looked quite comfortable in subdued black jeans, t-shirts and sneakers.
B.A.P.'s greatest talent is dancing. They have an effortless, loopy way of moving, in contrast to boy bands who try to keep it sharp and tight. It's the first time I've seen someone channel a flamenco riff via a ripple throughout his body -- then get hyphy at the next beat.
Whatever the case, whatever their image, the true testament to B.A.P.'s success is the howl of happy young girls.
Personal Bias: In my head, B.A.P. is pronounced "Bap" -- the sound Chris Kattan's manic monkey made on Saturday Night Live.
The Crowd: Mewling teenage girls and supportive "I'm into it" parents.
Random notebook dump: The walk down the stairwell smelled of tween spirit, which is a powerful combination of sweat and tears. I'm taking the elevator next time.
Set list below
What the Hell
I Believe I Can Fly (R. Kelly)
Teach Me + Never Give Up
Fight for Freedom
My First Kiss
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