In late October of last year, only days after MONSTA X‘s most recent studio album release, Take.1 Are You There?, I declared to my mere 500+ Instagram followers that I would pay a good amount of money to see MONSTA X perform their track ‘Oh My!’ live at least once in my lifetime.
Last Thursday morning, at approximately 7am, it hit me. I was actually going to see MONSTA X perform ‘Oh My!’ live. I was only days away from witnessing it.
Fast-forward to Saturday night. There I was, along with thousands of diverse fans packed into Melbourne’s sold-out Margaret Court Arena; little over half-way through the show, I was just as excited about being there as I was before the concert began. The atmosphere was electric, and MONSTA X had been performing at their energetic best, their high intensity only matched by the collective unscrupulous joy of Monbebe.
It was in this moment that the familiar driving melody began to play over the speakers, the members energetically clapping the beat to one of my favourite songs of 2018. All my anticipation had built up to this moment and, unsurprisingly, MONSTA X didn’t let me down. At first I wanted to stand there, eyes locked on them and their performance in an attempt to memorise everything. Yet, unconsciously, I was soon swept away and before the first verse had finished, I was jumping up and down, just as loud and proud as any of the Monbebe around me.
Never has one of my Instagram stories aged better. Nor has a little daydream of mine become such a wonderful reality.
If that was the only thing to talk about, my review would end here. But it is not all I have to say, and my review goes on for quite a bit longer. Much to my own surprise, this singular moment was not the only highlight of the show.
Here, it must be noted that despite my initial excitement and anticipation for this singular song, I did not actually know a whole lot about MONSTA X before the announcement of their Australian tour dates; that is not to say that I was unfamiliar with their songs or their increasing international achievements, including their appearance on Cartoon Networks’ We Bare Bears and their recent deal with Epic Records. However, I can confidently say that I walked into Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena fairly fresh and not nearly deserving of the title ‘Monbebe’.
The two-and-a-half-hour set started with a trio of some of their most famous hits, including the smash-single ‘Shoot Out’, followed by ‘Hero’, and ‘Trespass’. After an introduction and a rousing refrain of “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!”, the boys easily shifted into more mellow melodies, singing the Korean version of ‘Play It Cool’. At the beginning of the song the guys sat down at a long table; here, the choreography was not so intense, the atmosphere definitely more relaxed, providing room for each member to show-off their own individual charms. After performing ‘Mohae’, the septet transitioned into a deliciously sinful performance of ‘Jealousy’; while each member performed exceptionally well, I was immediately bewitched by one particular individual who spat fire as he glided across the stage.
“Who’s the rapper?” I sent out on our official twitter account as soon as I could tear my eyes away from the stage long enough to look at my phone:
Seconds later I got my answer:
In that moment I liked Jooheon. Quickly, however, I began to love every single member of the group. This appreciation was further expanded upon through a short interlude of Montube videos where each of the members led their own influencer-style vlogs, teaching their adoring audience skincare and beauty, how to say “I love you” across many different languages, while also providing a few fashion, style, and cooking tips. Unsurprisingly, Wonho, with his strong thighs and impressive abs, lead the exercise instructional. Shownu, on the other hand, conducted a ASMR Mukbang. “Stop talking, concentrate on my voice,” he whispered to his screaming audience, which was only met by a new chorus of glorious cheers.
At the conclusion of this short, affectionately amusing, and somewhat heartwarming break, the group broke into three wildly different unit stages. First up was Kihyun, Minhyuk, and Hyungwon, who collectively and charismaticly performed their version of Bazzi’s ‘Myself’. My newly identified favourites, Jooheon and I.M., led a passionate rap of ‘삼박자’, the lyrics, outfits, and music a call-back to their Korean roots. Their intensity was only further complete with a full-drum solo that was undertaken so perfectly that no-one knew Jooheon had broken a drumstick until they mentioned it later. A different level of intensity was explored in Shownu’s and Wonho’s sumptuous mirror performance; “You guys are always my mirror,” the boys later explained. “Whenever I see you, I want to always do my best.”
“Our brothers are so sexy!” the younger trio crooned when they returned to the stage in preppy coordinated Polo Ralph Lauren outfits; in turns, each unit returned to the stage to outline the meaning of each of their group performances. However, once all seven had joined together again they appropriately described each unit as “cute sexy, powerful sexy, and beast sexy”, which really is the perfect yet succinct overview of their consecutive stages.
MONSTA X naturally shifted from the vividly electronic, hard-hitting hits they have become synonymous for, to sweeter, lighter, melodies, with seasoned aplomb. Stand-out songs included performances of the smash-hit ‘Dramarama’, the reptilian rave ‘Alligator’, the party-anthem ‘Fallin”, and MONSTA X’s own special brand of ballad, the deeply affective ‘Myself’.
All too quickly, the concert was nearly over, but not before Hyungwon returned to the stage in encore as his DJ alter-ego, H.ONE. His small set turned the arena into one giant party, MONSTA X and their adoring fans equally having just as much fun as each other.
Hyungwon wore the Australian flag like a cape, unofficially becoming Captain Australia, as he energetically jumped across the stage. A more poignant moment came only moments later, with Minhyuk taking a Pride flag that had been thrown onto the stage, and draping it across his arm and shoulders as the group sang their last few songs – a rare display of ally-ship for a Korean boy band.
Before the group took their final bow, each member made an effort to directly interact with their Monbebe community; some directed little videos on their fans’ phones, while others waved, or initiated small conversations with those who were pressed against the barrier.
And then, to top it all off, Wonho took his top off.
It is not easy to quickly or even neatly articulate the experience of a MONSTA X gig. However, their Melbourne concert cemented my firmly held belief that K-Pop concerts are the best kind of concerts.
MONSTA X was energetic, exciting, and exceptional; their show was pure professionalism, a perfect showcase of their immense, indisputable talent. Their choreography was sublime, their visuals so gorgeous that I had to remind myself to keep my jaw off the floor.
In what is poised to be one of their biggest weeks ever, as fans eagerly await their brand-new single, it is clear that MONSTA X will only get better and better. I cannot wait to see what they achieve next. The only thing I can hope for now is to see them in Melbourne again. When that times comes, I will know all of their songs, Mondoongie in hand.
Photos Courtesy of Starship Entertainment