BIG BANG - Honda Center - November 3, 2012

Categories: concert review
big bang.jpg
Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly
BIG BANG
BIG BANG
Honda Center
November 3, 2012


So if you haven't heard about the Korean boy-band, BIG BANG, trust me, you will soon.  Riding the K-Pop invasion into the United States, led by Psy and Gangnam Style, BIG BANG is on their first U.S. tour.  For two nights in a row, they sold out the Honda Center.  It's only a matter of time before everyone knows the names of these five rappers/singers -- G-Dragon, T.O.P., Taeyang, Seungri, and Daesung.  

See Also
*Why the Hell is Psy So Popular? 

Now, let me be real with you.  Before I went to this show, I knew very little about BIG BANG.  I headed to the show without any expectations.  And if you're the type of concert-goer who isn't very open to something different or disinterested in hearing a bunch of musicians with only one goal in mind -- to make you get out of your seat and dance -- then this show wouldn't be for you.  
On Saturday, walking into the Honda Center was more like heading to a Lakers/Celtics playoff game than a concert.  The tension was almost palpable, as if I could just reach up and cut it with a knife and spread it over my hot dog.  Hundreds of young girls were wearing their BIG BANG swag and screaming every time the lights flickered.  When I was heading to my seat, the lights cut off, and the image of BIG BANG appeared on a giant television screen above the stage, which stretched far out into the floor. The stage was shaped like a cross.  Then a countdown began, the lights began to pulse, and out of the blackness emerged thousands of yellow lamps -- which looked more like electrified lotus flowers -- in the hands of the audience.  

Suddenly, the screen on the stage dropped, and the crowd went b-a-n-a-n-a-s (thanks Gwen Stefani), and the girls were losing their freaking minds.  It was pandemonium.  From underneath the stage, tubes emerged that looked like something out of Star Trek.  Behind the tubes, a band was playing on the second level, and they were creating so much tension with their crescendo, I thought the arena was going to split at the seams.  Behind the band were severeral screens playing images of a Seoul -- I'm assuming -- from the future: neon lights, steel dragons, and writing in Korean.  

Then it happened.  

BIG BANG, all five of them, busted out of the tubes, and the crowd screamed so loud my ear drums must have popped.  They were dressed in these Michael Jackson-meets-Sgt. Pepper all-white suits. G-Dragon's hair looked like something out Flock of Seagulls, and Taeyang had braids.  They were both busting moves with as much style as Usher.  They owned the stage, pointing to the crowd, and causing young girls and their mothers to cling to each other. 

big bang 2.jpg
Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly

In Korea, each one of the members of BIG BANG have succesful solo careers, so together they're a supergroup -- almost the Korean version of a Traveling Wilburys -- just very, very different.  G-Dragon might be the most famous, and his song, "Crayon," which features a line from The Dark Knight ("Why so serious?") is a smash.  Collectively, they're so over-the-top it's awesome.  And everything about BIG BANG is over the top, superficial, and highly produced.  But honestly, who cares?  

Before the show, I heard a lot people compare BIG BANG to American boy-bands.  In the end, it's really unfair to compare BIG BANG to someone like the Backstreet Boys or 98 Degrees, because they can actually rap.  They have flow.  They're more like something Bad Boy records would have signed back in the day.   

What I loved most about the show -- besides the constant set changes, the colors, and the acrobatic dance-moves that made the performance feel more like Cirque Du Soleil -- was that I could hear all the artists BIG BANG was borrowing from.  They sounded like hip hop and R&B from the 90s mixed with contemporary electronic beats.  I could hear Pras and Ja Rule in T.O.P's voice when he rapped, but when he sang all I could think about was the guy from Boyz II Men who sang bass.  Then there was Taeyang -- a sort of almagamation of Sisqo, Lil' Wayne, and Usher.  Each one of the band members came out and had the stage by themselves for some time.  And even at one point, one of the members flew around the stage wearing angel wings, looking like Icarus. 

But you know, I've got to say, the band accompanying BIG BANG was off the hook.  They were rocking as if they were Parliament Funkadelic.  Man, could they jam.  To "top" the night off, girls were holding signs showing birthday love for one of the members.  It was T.O.P's birthday. To celebrate, they brought out a cake and the whole audience got to sing "happy birthday" to their beloved K-Pop star.   

After the show, I was blown away with how a bunch of guys from Korea reinterpreted a genre of music that started on the streets of NYC.  It's not brilliant, and they're probably manufactured by a corporation, but it was fun.  BIG BANG'S weirdness, when it comes TO style, rivals Missy Elliot and Lady Gaga.  Dancers were popping out of sewers; flames were bursting out of the stage; and B-Boys were break dancing like they were on Yo MTV Raps.  I kept thinking about Dru Hill for some reason.  It was nostalgic, a  throwback to old-school hip-hop but with a commercial twist and a foreign reinterpretation.  Honestly, it was freaking fun.  Just be ready and open, because these boys, well, they'll be back, and they know they're going to be superstars. They told us so.  

Reporter's Notebook

Critic's Bias: I did expect to see something lame -- something like a New Kids on the Block Concert. 

Overheard in the Crowd: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  It was way too freaking loud.  

The Crowd: Girls, girls, girls.  But also a small percentage of really dedicated fanboys, too.  

Follow us on Twitter @OCWeeklyMusic and @JosephALapin on Facebook at Heard Mentality

Location Info

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Honda Center

2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, CA

Category: Music


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14 comments
hpnhg
hpnhg

I enjoyed your review.  You called it how you saw it.  13 comments before me, and each one had to make a point about your "manufacture" statement.  You merely stated, "they're probably manufactured by a corporation," and the key word is "probably," meaning you're unsure about it, but just putting it out there anyway.  I understand why you put that because a lot of artists nowadays (whether kpop or American music or whatever nation's music) don't make their own music.  So to all the hurt fans who had to repeat themselves, one correction could've been enough.  Also, you did enough research to get the gist of their music career to fulfill your review; it's not like you did a one-to-one interview with Big Bang themselves.   Good job.

 

Oh, and I get what you meant by over the top, superficial etc....because it's in their name BIG BANG.  Their concerts are super crazy and their outfits are outrageous and their fans are superb so the non-psychotic fans are on your side.

angelajkim
angelajkim

Great article although I agree with other readers that Big bang is far from superficial and highly produced. BIGBANG is one group known to write and produce their own music and many of their recent hits like Monster was written by GD & TOP. 

 

Also I know it's easy to try to compare them to American boy groups and rappers like Lil' Wayne, New kids on the block, etc but these groups really don't do Big Bang justice. Sure GD was inspired by WuTang clan in grade school but they've come a long way since then. GD started rapping when he was 8 with much more talent than most American popstars I believe. I don't think they're "borrowing" from any group/artist, because their inspiration is on a global level, not simply American and Korean. 

 

Also I've been a BB fan since I was in my 20's, I'm now in my early 30's. I know many other older fans who followed them since they were young artists on a reality TV show in 2005. Not that this is really important, but just wanted to let you know that BB isn't just a teeny bopper K-pop sensation...BB is one K-pop group that is beyond an "idol group." They're known to have a wider fanbase compared to any other k-pop groups out there.

 

I've been a follower of Kpop since the 90's and to this date, I have yet to come across a group like BB.  Some fans love BB as part of their love for K-pop in general. However there are others like myself who stopped following Kpop idol groups but still love BB for their unprecedented talent & creativity.

 

http://gratitudetree.blogspot.com/2012/11/bigbang-why-i-cant-stop-loving-them.html

sisita_mercado
sisita_mercado

Great review, just one comment... about BIGBANG being manufactured. They're not. YG Entertainment does not manufacture. G-Dragon, the leader, is their producer and he has produced every single song BIGBANG has ever sang. He produces it with the help of some YG producers like Choice37 and Teddy. In fact, he has over 100 songs in the copyright association. Also, their style is their own. The company doesn't give it to them. Usually they'll be covered in Chrome Hearts, Thom Browne, Givenchy, Balmain, etc. Apart from this, each member of BIGBANG has also produced more than 5 songs, T.O.P being one of the main lyricists for BIGBANG. Other examples that YG does not manufacture: PSY. PSY is BIGBANG's labelmate, PSY writes his own music and dresses the way he wants. Also, 2NE1 (currently on world tour like their BIGBANG labelmates) dresses how they want, the style they want, which usually involves Jeremy Scott's fashion. They do not produce their own music (Teddy does) but they are active in the lyric composition. YG Entertainment is one of the few, if not the only, entertainment company that allows this much freedom to their artists. That's why they are known as 'YG Family'. 

LadyKatLisa
LadyKatLisa

To Mr. Lapin,

 

Maybe you should have done some WIKI research before writing this article.

 

1. Not all Big Bang members have done solo careers. In terms of music, Daesung has yet to release a solo album or TOP. TOP and Daesung have done solo acting careers.

2. THEY ARE NOT MANUFACTURED BY THEIR COMPANY! They are active in their music production. GD's solo album consists of his own collaborations with various artists with help from Teddy. They have their own style and swagger. 

 

YG ENTERTAINMENT DOES NOT MANUFACTURE. They strive for excellent music from their artists. They make their artists work. 

 

3. Daesung come out with wings because the song is called "Wings" that is one of his solo songs from their "Alive" album.

4. The band use to perform with Michael Jackson

5. Big Bang started in 2006. 

agdgirl721
agdgirl721

I would like to hear your rationale for: "And everything about BIG BANG is over the top, superficial, and highly produced." Why do you think they are are superficial? Their songs are anything but superficial. You saw the thousands of fans (VIPs) with their "yellow lamps" and how passionate they were about BIGBANG. BIGBANG's music attracts fans because their music comes from the heart - it is the sincerity of the music that made BIGBANG into a worldwide sensation. Maybe the sincerity doesn't come through as well to non-Korean speakers but even so, the language barrier has not stopped international fans from loving BIGBANG's music (look at all the non-Korean fans at the venue).

 

BIGBANG's Alive Tour was planned before Psy and has succeeded without Psy's influence. Psy cannot sell out two concerts at the Honda Center because he does not have fans like BIGBANG's VIPs. BIGBANG's popularity has nothing to do with that of Psy's.

 

Also, be prepared to apologize for your "manufactured" comment. As a reporter, you should aim to learn about the artist before you write a review as to avoid ignorant statements.

GDisbetterthanyou
GDisbetterthanyou

You might think Big Bang to be Manufactured because yes,they ARE that slick.You probably now know that GDragon (Who is only 24 in Western Years) is infact the driving force behind their music so while some fans are pressed you called BigBang 'Manufactured', as GDs fan im impressed you feel that what is infact created by ONE man..could ONLY be created by a team of masterminds

MuryG
MuryG

You schould read more abt BB, I bet you'll gonna reverse your "manufactured" statement later. LOL

yuke1991
yuke1991

ummm... i totally understand where your understanding of "KPOP is MANUFACTURED" came from (yeah, its too sickening~ like robots)... but that doesn't apply for bigbang... G-Dragon actually writes most of their songs (he's been called genius many times), TOP writes his own rap part, the other members produce their own solo songs too (with the help of g-dragon sometimes)... thats why while other "manufactured" groups releases manufactured songs regularly, BIGBANG can actually take their time to produce their own songs without time-pressure... They're ONE OF A KIND k-pop group...

beautiful_disaster40
beautiful_disaster40

Although fangirls will soon kill the comments with how Big Bang isn't manufactured (they're actually not, and yes, G-Dragon writes & produces most of their stuff, even the solo stuff for the other guys), I'd have to say this is by far the BEST review I've seen a Western publication give of them. You get their style better than anyone else. Most people compare them to acts like One Direction, and IMO it's nothing like that... The people you compared them to, I agree more with. Dru Hill... Usher... 90s hip-hop & R&B (which the boys love and cite as their biggest inspiration), something "Bad Boy Records" would've signed back in the day (totally... like a male version of Total or something.) Those comparisons make more sense. In the late 90s, I was a tween and sort of a fan of things like the Backstreet Boys, and yeah... Big Bang's music is nothing like that. It's more like the 90s R&B & hip-hop I knew from back then. The Ja Rule comparison for T.O.P is SPOT ON! Back when Ja could make nothing but hits, that's exactly what T.O.P sounds like. I do wonder if Big Bang will crossover well to America. I really hope so! They're great, and honestly, American music right now isn't so amazing that there's no room for a band like Big Bang. American music is at some sort of weird crossroads, and a lot of it really sucks right now (not all, there are some gems.) So... I don't think Big Bang's style would fail to find new fans. I love them, they're just... great!

VIP4GDBB
VIP4GDBB

I'd like to point out that Big Bang are not riding the Kpop invasion led by Psy. Their world tour was decided after they won the World Wide Act Award in the MTV EMA 2011, which was before Psy became a worldwide sensation. Big Bang did it on their own, not riding on the waves of Psy.

hipployta
hipployta

Just want to chime in that Big Bang is six years old and their music is mostly written, composed, and produced by their leader G-Dragon.  I'm sure you'll find that out (and be told several times) soon enough LOL. 

in.life.my.moments
in.life.my.moments

I read the article above and I think I need to correct something that you wrote. I know you might be new to BIGBANG and KPOP but BIGBANG's music is not manufactured by their company, YG Entertainment. If you have research before hand, you will find out easily that G Dragon, the Leader of BIGBANG is the composer, singer songwriter and producer of the group. Most of their albums were created by him and among all the Idols in Korea, he is known to be the most successful and wealthiest among them having more than 100 songs in copyright to his name. So please don't group BIGBANG with other groups. They have their own music, fashion and style, and it is their originality that makes them difference from the rest. And if you didnt know, they won the MTV EMA Awards 2011 in the World Wide Act Category.

JosephALapin
JosephALapin

@xROSSJAMESx Lol...they could be linked in some way. Not sure though.

angelajkim
angelajkim

 @LadyKatLisa Daesung does have a solo album in Korea. It's a different genre called "t-rot" that appeals to older fan base but yes he does have his own album although it might've not crossed over to the States. 

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