F.T. Island Brings Classics and New Sound to California

<<F.T. Island Brings Classics and New Sound to California>>

By Mandy Day

Photos by Hien Le

Eight years after their debut, Korean rock band F.T. Island finally brought their tour to the U.S. The band has played stateside before, but 2015 marked the first year American fans could see one of South Korea’s most popular bands headline their own tour. Playing two stops in the U.S. to close out the FTHX Europe and Latin American Tour, several thousand fans rocked Los Angeles’ Club Nokia with the five band members and special guest, Jamil, an American born Japanese singer.

The band’s hits, like “Love Love Love” and “I Wish” anchored the concert while the group promoted their newest album, due out in March or April. Over the years, the band has gained more autonomy over the direction that their music takes. The days of bubbly pop rock are waning and the band is choosing to take their sound in a new, edgier direction. Fans of F.T. Island have stuck with the band throughout the years and their base has grown to include music lovers with a hard rock bias. One fan in attendance took a bus from San Jose, California to see the group. Journalists representing Spanish language media were also in attendance to cover the event for Mexican and Latin American based K-Pop listeners.

Lee Hongki, the lead singer and noticeable favorite among attendees, played the near two-hour show without missing a note, despite being afflicted by an illness. The venue was on the smaller side compared to recent Korean concerts, and lacked the fancy choreography of recent L.A. performers, 2PM and Jay Park. Opportunities to see Korean bands perform with live music as opposed to pre-recorded instrumental are few and far between. F.T. Island’s intimate show on a slow night at Downtown L.A. Live didn’t disappoint.

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Mandy Day is a lifelong San Diego resident and made her way back home after finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy at Mills College in Oakland, California. She has traveled extensively in Australia and lived in Cairns for a year while studying Journalism. Along with travels in Europe, Mandy is passionate about adventuring to far flung lands and hopes to make a move to South Korea in the near future to teach. An avid fan of K-Pop and Korean dramas since 2010, Mandy has studied East Asian History since high school and currently organizes the San Diego Korean Language Exchange.

Team Sejong-Mandy

Five Years After the Separation: Jay Park and 2PM

<<Five Years After the Separation: Jay Park and 2PM>>

by Mandy Day

Photos by Hien Le

The informed K-Pop fan knows of the acrimonious split between Jay Park and 2PM. Five years after his contract was terminated by Korean record label JYP, American fans had an opportunity to see how the hip-hop rebel has evolved as an artist since he left the regimented world of idol group life. On November 14th, the Park founded record label, AOMG, held a concert at Los Angeles’ historic Belasco Theater.

 

Featuring AOMG artists, the concert was anything but the flashy spectacle that one sees at the standard idol concert. There were no costume changes or elaborate staging. Backup dancers barely made an appearance. The newly established record label was almost completely music centric from Park’s bubblegum pop numbers like ‘So Good’ to more edgy songs like ‘Dangerous’. LA-based Korean American rapper Dumbfoundead made an appearance. The perfect opportunity to compare the two artists arose a week later when 2PM performed their first solo concert in the United States since 2010.

 

Deviating greatly from Jay Park’s bare-bones production, 2PM’s extravaganza comprised of elaborate dance choreography, sparkly costumes, and staging spanning multiple levels of the Shrine Auditorium stage. One major bright spot was the complete absence of lip-synching which is all too common among pop performances. LA born Nichkhun talked about his love of the LA food scene, while Taecyeon and Chansung made fans go gaga for abs easily visible from the press balcony toward the back of the auditorium.

 

Park and 2PM have dramatically changed since they parted ways. 2PM being one of the world’s most popular K-Pop groups have continued to grow in popularity as their music continues to be pop gold, like their new single ‘Go Crazy’, complete with bizarre dance moves and goofball-like music video. Park’s tattoos, devil may care attitude, and unapologetic party lifestyle, represent a new generation of Koreans. Whether it’s manufactured pop or uninhibited hip-hop, the Korean music scene will continue to gain new American fans.

 

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Members of 2PM and Jay Park riling up the crowd

 

Mandy Day is a lifelong San Diego resident and made her way back home after finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy at Mills College in Oakland, California. She has traveled extensively in Australia and lived in Cairns for a year while studying Journalism. Along with travels in Europe, Mandy is passionate about adventuring to far flung lands and hopes to make a move to South Korea in the near future to teach. An avid fan of K-Pop and Korean dramas since 2010, Mandy has studied East Asian History since high school and currently organizes the San Diego Korean Language Exchange.

Team Sejong-Mandy