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What to Expect at a K-Pop Concert

I’ve been to a fair share of concerts, but K-Pop concerts take the cake in terms of entertainment.  

K-Pop has been around for a couple decades but I only recently got into it about a year ago. It first started off with me liking a few catchy songs by the likes of groups like Big Bang and BTS, but before I knew it, the choreographies, concept music videos, variety show appearances, and live performances sucked me into a whole new fandom consisting of many groups.

I got the opportunity to see the K-Pop group SHINee (pronounced ‘shiny’) perform live at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver for their SHINee World V tour. Considering they’ve sold out arena and stadium shows across Asia, I was grateful to see them live in a smaller venue. This show was also my first K-Pop concert, so I was anticipating seeing how different their shows would be compared to other concerts I had been to.


Here are a few things I noticed from their show, along with others K-Pop artists I’ve seen through videos:

Fan Chants

Fans don’t just sing along to lyrics (regardless if they know Korean or not), they come up with their own chants to carry out while the artists are performing. Usually they scream out the group members’ names individually, spell out things, or yell the group’s name in sync with the song. It’s actually quite fun!


Fan Projects

When my friends and I got to our seats, we noticed mini banners had been placed on each seat in the venue. Each banner had encouraging messages for the group on them as well as instructions for fans on when to hold them up during the show. These aren’t provided by the artist or their label, but by local and global fan clubs! Tons of clubs raise funds through donations from other fans to cover the cost of concert banners, and things like ads in subway stations around Korea, Japan, China, and even the U.S. celebrating a favourite member’s birthday. I’ve also seen fans collecting funds to donate to charities in the honour of members or groups as well.


Fan Lights

Forget the phone flashlights – this is probably one of my favourite aspects of K-Pop concerts. Each group has their own fan light with a specific colour (i.e. Big Bang’s is a yellow crown) that fans hold up during the entirety of the live show. They create these amazing ‘oceans’ of light in the venue – sometimes it feels like you’ve paid for a really big rave.


No opening acts

Most concerts and tours have no opening acts, which I found interesting but nonetheless, a nice change from Western concerts. Though I do still believe opening acts provide new artists with a spotlight to promote themselves, the sooner you get to see the main act, the better!


Artists start with a few of their hit songs

This starts the concerts off on a great note! Groups perform 1 or 2 of their hit singles to get the show going and then diverge into the rest of their set-list. In contrast, Western acts typically save their biggest songs for the end of the show, or the encore.


These K-Pop groups work non-stop to perfect their performances and prepare for comebacks every year – I have so much respect for what they go through. The fandom culture behind K-Pop is incredible to be a part of, too! If you’re interested in highly impressive choreographies, occasionally flashy and kind of ‘out-there’ fashion concepts, plus amazing group chemistry, I recommend delving into the world of K-Pop! Though SHINee was the first Korean pop act I’ve seen live, I’m already looking forward to my next show (I’m really bummed that I missed EXO’s concert at the UBC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena last year, but that’s a different story).

Kelly is a UBC student studying microbiology and nutrition. She is a strong supporter for girls and women in STEM fields, and loves all things health and fitness - despite her lack of athleticism. You'll most likely find her on campus or around the city with her earbuds in. Aside from being a big foodie and travel enthusiast, she enjoys discussing anything related to pop-culture, social media, or public health!Find her on Twitter.
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