It’s barely been eight months since the debut of South Korean boy band iKon, but already they are headlining their very own nine-country iKoncert 2016: Showtime Tour in Asia, stopping by Hong Kong last Saturday to meet the screaming, dominantly female fans (or ‘iKonics’) that filled the AsiaWorld-Expo Arena.
The seven-member group is the latest to form under YG Entertainment, the label home to hit K-pop acts such as Big Bang, 2NE1, Psy and Winner. Team leader B.I, together with Bobby, Jinhwan, Junhoe, Yunhyeong and Donghyuk have been collecting fans ever since they emerged on the 2013 reality TV show WIN: Who Is Next, where they were on the losing team.
So it came as no surprise that the boys, aged just 18 to 22, performed with the charm and confidence of seasoned entertainers. As the revving intro of party anthem Rhythm Ta sounded, the crowd’s anticipation bubbled over and the group appeared on stage, clad in blaring red leather jackets.
The excitement was kept fresh and the energy high as the group moved swiftly down the first parts of their setlist, delivering hits Dumb & Dumber and Sinosijak. The members then took turns introducing themselves before moving on to their hit debut single, the groovy summer song My Type. But even after the self-intros, it was a tough task to recognise all of the members, each having only a small section in each song. It soon became clear that iKon was mostly about Bobby, B.I and Jinhwan (in that order), with Junhoe diving in every now and then to do the more difficult singing parts. While B.I was the leader, Bobby clearly outshined him. His voice was solid, commanding the attention of the whole arena, and his raps and knee kicks earned the loudest squeals from the audience. One of the highlights of the evening was his solo performance of Go, his rapid-fire rap lyrics articulated spot on as he leapt around the massive stage. Naturally, B.I had to follow with a solo piece, delivering Be I in an impressive show of green laser lighting.
While the slower songs Apology and Wait For Me were nicely delivered, the second highlight came when the group covered Big Bang’s recent hit Bang Bang Bang. Jinhwan pulled off a G-Dragon impersonation while Bobby looked just like a younger Taeyang. But it was disappointing that the seven members weren’t able to bring a new edge or interpretation to the song.
The boys showed they were not above making fun of themselves when Jinhwan suddenly pounced on stage in a wig and white dress, covering GFriend’s Me Gustas Tu, shortly joined by his bandmates.
The show ended in a flourish, with Long Time No See, Welcome Back and an encore of Dumb & Dumber and Rhythm Ta rounding off a fun evening.
Top-notch production meant that lighting and sound was impeccable, although there was an obvious reliance on backing vocals. But despite the band’s safe choreography and lengthy rambles, fans were ecstatic, screaming with delight and singing every lyric, from the intro to the final notes. K-pop may be like fast food – but there’s no stopping us from lovin’ it.