South Korean idol group SHINee brought the North American leg of their latest world tour to a close at the historic Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 26th. This was the group’s first official “world tour” venture on North American soil, and SM Entertainment’s fab five spent a full week on the continent performing SHINee World V concerts in Toronto, Vancouver and Dallas before closing out with a packed house in Los Angeles.

“…This is real. You guys are not watching YouTube right now!” – Key

Perfect performances are hard to write about because when everything is perfect, there is nothing to critique. SHINee is an idol group at peak proficiency, having debuted 9 years ago they are veteran entertainers, and at average age 25 these boys have not yet to lost their verve for performance. They brought a bright and lively atmosphere to the stage and shared reciprocal joy with the crowd. The 30-song setlist spanned the group’s Korean discography and was perfectly packaged using VCRs (short pre-produced video interludes) to segue neatly between song clusters and segments of banter and help set the tone for the show: vibrant, charming and funny. (Each VCR is a stand-alone work of media art and it’s shame they don’t get released formally like music videos.)

Key took on the role of English-language MC but was unable to suppress his signature deadpan snark, much to fans’ delight. Minho was 110% present and committed as always, Jonghyun brought his voice and let it soar in all the right places, Taemin played the adorable maknae to a tee -he couldn’t possibly have been cuter, and if there was an award for perfectly punctuating pop music with smiles and winks, leader Onew would have won it. Vocals were crazy solid, dancing was on point (they really are one of the best male dance groups in the business), and the talking segments were perfectly amusing. SHINee’s magic is that they make it all look effortless and genuine.

The production was scaled appropriately for the venue – larger than a fanmeet, smaller than the stadium or dome concerts which they frequently do in Asia. The not too big, not too small space of the 6000+ seat Shrine Auditorium kept things comfortably intimate, but provided room for a bit of stage theatrics: motion projections, follow spots, fog machines, silk legs (curtains) that danced in time to the music, no fewer than seven costume changes, and a couple of confetti cannon blasts at crucial moments. SM Entertainment is at the apex of K-pop production, so it should be no surprise that their live events are masterfully orchestrated.

The crowd was comprised of diverse teens and twenty-somethings wearing lots of black clothing and sporting hair in varying shades and hues of artificial color – aka, standard American K-pop fans. Their atmosphere was excited, but chill. Devoted SHAWOLs (fanclub members) ran around before the doors opened passing out small “#SHINeeinLA Fan Project” banners to be held up by fans at a particular points during the concert.

#SHINeeinLA Fan Project banner and instruction sheet

More detailed instructions for exactly when and how to hold up the banners were printed out and placed on each seat in the venue so every member of the audience had a copy, and at the appointed times the banners did go up.  According to the banners, credit goes to @SHINeeUSAForums, @SHINeeUSFanmeet and @ShawolsIntl.

Instruction sheet for banner fan project.

This was no small feat of coordination and perhaps the first successful large-scale live-event fan project at a U.S. K-pop concert – an indicator for the group’s popularity or at least the degree to which these overseas fans adore them.

SHINee is most definitely beloved, and most definitely worth seeing live.

Photos 1-3 by Ricky Lam. Photos 4-5 by Ariel Alkire.