DSC_8141-27

2014 marked a significant year for Australian Hallyu fans. Melbourne, an often-ignored K-Pop destination, was graced with the presence of the Best Absolute Perfect Korean sextet – B.A.P – who stormed upon the stage after embarking on the first world tour. Momentously, their 2014 concert provided the opportunity for a lot of first time K-Pop concertgoers to see their idols and paved the way for the future of Korean Pop music in Melbourne and Australia.

Two years later, after a brief hiatus and the release of brand new album, B.A.P was back and better than ever! Since then a lot has changed. However, it was evident that the love for these boys had not wavered.

Despite the pouring rain and the bitter late-autumn temperatures of Melbourne, fans had indeed lived to their long-held promise of not forgetting B.A.P; not letting the weather dampen their spirits, fans were lining up in the early hours of Thursday morning, BABYZ had formed large queues up and around the venue before lunch time, armed with an artillery of fan-chants, light sticks, and banners, ready to storm Melbourne’s famous Festival Hall.

Piling inside, fans were asked through great big letters on the stage backdrop, “Where Are You Now?” – a sentiment I am sure BABYZ would have loved to ask the boys themselves. Mounting hysteria was building inside the venue. Fans were impatient to see B.A.P; after two years of waiting, it seemed as if another minute would be a minute too long. Fan-chants for Himchan, Yongguk, Jongup, Daehyun, Youngjae, and Zelo were almost deafening and as the skull-masked DJ and drummer jumped onto the stage, the pulsating beat became barely discernable. In a matter of a mere two minutes everyone had been worked up in a state of B.A.P fever and the boys had not even made it onto the stage.

Powerfully and passionately, dressed in black leather jackets, all six men eventually sauntered onto the stage in a truly dynamic performance of their smash-hit ‘Warrior’, followed by the equally punchy ‘What the Hell’. Any attempt at recovering composure was met with ‘No Mercy’; the whole venue shook to hundreds of roaring boom claps and any recollection of the winter-like weather outside was long-gone. Inside there was a fiery heat, feverish, and unstoppable.

B.A.P were back, BABYZ.

A short drum-solo interlude provided Himchan with the opportunity for a small wardrobe change. Without making his audience wait too long, he quickly returned back to the stage in a black suit and dress hat, an outfit that was altogether rather fitting for a sleek, suave, and sexy solo. ‘S.N.S’ showed of his incredible immense talent. Faultlessly, he sang and smoothly swayed across the stage. Despite having a rather large crew of talented back-up dancers beside him, everyone’s gaze was understandably upon him. Covertly, Himchan was rejoined with his fellow group-members in a performance of ‘Spy’, which resulted into a dance-off full of daring turns and spectacular body twists.

Indeed, the show had just begun, yet already, B.A.P’s incredibly versatile repertoire took center stage in truly spectacular form. It was hard not to ‘Be Happy’! In a song full of cute choreography, the boys really played up the fan-service, laughing and smiling at each other and their adoring fans. Simultaneously, the room was awash of colour, joy, and the biggest smiles I have ever witnessed on the faces of a large group of teenagers, ever. The audience, collectively, seemed as if they could barely manage to look away.

“We are B.A.P, yessir!”

Their latest smash hit, ‘Feel So Good’, was next. Accordingly, its introduction was meet with high-pitched squeals, an excitement that continued straight through to their colourful performance of ‘Carnival’. With its pulsating drumbeat, fans waved their bright green matoki light sticks in time.

After a brief break and a costume change, Daehyun returned to his BABYZ for his solo stage.

“This song is for you guys. Shall I go?”

Like you even had to ask, Daehyun.

Taking his place on a stool in the middle of the stage, he serenaded the audience with an acoustic version of the hit-song ‘Shady Lady’. Its sweet lyrics and lyrical melody had everyone swaying in unison. However, before too long, the mood changed dramatically.

Bold, dynamic, and electric, Festival Hall was temporarily transformed into the most popular club in the city; the dance remix of ‘Hurricane’ was even more unbelievably high-powered than the original. it had nearly everyone, including the first-aid crew on standby and the security guards at the front of the stage dancing around and bobbing along. The intensity prevailed, with the darkly hypnotic ‘Badman’.

‘Bangx2’ had Zelo jumping off the stage to talk and interact with their fans. Fortunately, the crowd was treated to another solo-stage, this time featuring the singing, dancing machine Jongup.

And then it was quiet. Too quiet, a stillness that was only interrupted by big red letters appearing on the backdrop, spelling out “WAR”. In a moment that was altogether rather significantly reflective, a list of conflicts, rebellions, insurrections, and wars since 1914 scrolled down the screen. The audience fell silent. It was an oddly sombre moment, and pointedly long, which only added to the importance of this moment.

The read letters changed. Rather than just war appearing in the screen, the letter moved to create the message, “NO MORE WAR”. Wearing all-black suits, embellished with gold, the boys walked onto the stage with their 2013 smash-hit single, ‘One Shot’. The performance, in itself, was grand.

The concert continued, reminding us that whoever wishes to wear the crown should bear the burden in a rousing performance of ‘Kingdom’. And after such intensity, the silent presence of Jongup in the middle of the stage was almost startling. All the wiser, fans knew exactly what was coming up next – the first notes of ‘1004(Angel)’ rang throughout the auditorium creating the loudest reaction from the audience of the night.

The talents of each member were increasingly evident as the concert progressed. More than that, their stamina was truly remarkable. Despite strenuous movement, requiring peak physicality and endurance, B.A.P showed their fans that despite their hiatus, they were still at the top of their game.

“I was so excited! said Himchan. Serendipitously, never had there been a more apt opportunity to sing their up-beat belter, ‘With You’. Not missing a beat, the fans sang with as much passion as they could muster, encouraging their idols further.

Rather generally, it would be fair to B.A.P’s second appearance in Australia was much more relaxed to their first show in 2014. This time there was not much of a story line or a clear progression from song to song. Notably, costume changes were fewer, and the admittedly the night was not without its fair share of drama.

However, this didn’t make it any less enjoyable. If anything, the whole affair was rather intimate and unique, a singular experience that any K-Pop fan would cherish. If anything, it emphasised the strong dedication of BABYZ and their love for their boys.

“We’ll run until the end, if it is a place exciting. We will run anywhere,” they told their doting audience. Having seen their work and ongoing passion, I do not doubt it for the briefest of moments. Together, these six boys are passionate and strong; mature and robust; sharp, dynamic, and full of energy, they do not let go or give in, in a determined effort to continue to continue were they left off and to make their mark.

The crowd remained captivated and entirely bewitched throughout ‘Young, Wild, and Free’. And with a rousing chant of “AUSSIE! AUSSIIE! AUSSIE! OI! OI! OI!” the boys excused themselves with ‘Excuse Me’. Right up until the very end, B.A.P truly lived up to expectations; as any fan would attest, they did not let anyone forget that they were, indeed, the ‘best’, ‘absolute’, and entirely ‘perfect’.

Photo by Johnny Au from B.A.P Sydney Concert