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CNBLUE & FT Island Live in Los Angeles


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The first thing that I loved about this concert is that it started on time (I’ve never been to a Kpop concert that started on time). When the lights went down at about 8:05, I thought it was going to be a tease, but nope. After a short intro of flashing lights and heavy electronic beats, pictures of the boys of CNBLUE flashed on screen member by member, and they paraded right on stage to the echoes of frazzled screams. The intro bit was exciting, just enough of a tease to really amp up the audience into a crazed frenzy.

The second thing I loved about this concert was CNBLUE. Everyone knows who they are and I know of them, but admittedly I hadn’t actively listened to their music. I only recognized one song they played at the concert (I’m a Loner) but I never stopped dancing. At all. Their music was so good, upbeat for one song and then hard enough of a rock song the next that I was almost head banging. Yonghwa has excellent stage presence. The way he practically makes love to his guitar and head rolls while gradually kneeling closer and closer to the ground is something you’d have to witness firsthand to understand how truly captivating it is. The band may be billed as an “idol” group to many, but they have the presence and rawness of a rock band. Nothing “idol” about them when they’re live.

All four of them spoke in English, not a single word of Korean. I love it when groups take the effort to speak English for the international fans, even though it might be difficult. Clearly Yonghwa prepared, considering this is LA. The first thing he said to us was “Wassup LA!” They seemed so surprised that there were so many people at the concert. At one point Yonghwa asked for more lights to be shined on the audience so he could see us. The lighting people didn’t understand him and finally he said. “Staff. More lights on audience.” When the lights went up, his face was so surprised, eyes wide and mouth open. He recovered well and thanked us all for coming.

At the end of their set he asked the audience if we were excited for FT Island and of course everyone freaked out, but then he asked, “Do you like CNBLUE?” and the audience screamed, and then he asked, “Do you like FT Island?” and the audience screamed again. He kept going back and forth, playing off of the crowd’s energy.

From a “not-a-fan-before” point of view, CNBLUE is very professional, very organized and well put together. Yonghwa is a great lead vocalist, and his voice was pure and in tune through the entire set. Their bassist Jungshin has fantastic hair, by the way. He’s a great singer and rapper, too. I have to give him some extra praise because rapping well involves having a certain swag, and he had that. Their lead guitarist Jonghyun is quite adorable. He was smiling and playing around through the entire concert and boy can he play a guitar. He’s no amateur. This is a guy who knows his instrument. Their drummer Minhyuk is also very talented. I found myself watching him more than I did Yonghwa! The only flaw in their performance was that Jonghyun’s microphone failed. It was really hard to hear him sing. I was so tired by the end of their performance. This definitely proves how good CNBLUE’s music is. I didn’t care that I hadn’t heard any of these songs. But I was so into them.

FT Island is flawless. Flawless I say, even though Hongki drank one too many Red Bulls before the show. Boy was HYPER. I can’t even describe how much energy he had, how much of himself he put into their performance and how much fun he had on that stage. Even with the language barrier, he was running around, playing with those that were close enough to the stage to touch him.

FT Island opened with Hello Hello, pretty fitting for the first song of the concert. It set the atmosphere and the energy levels for the rest of the night. There were some sound issues on Jonghun’s side with a bit of feedback, but he learned really quick where not to stand to minimize the screech.

As for the language barrier, one of the first things Hongki said was that there was so much to say but he didn’t know English. Half way through, Hongki suddenly started speaking Korean with Jaejin and Seunghyun. Those two were no help, and so he went around the audience, trying to find someone who spoke Korean. He kept asking, “You know Korean? Who know Korean?” trying to find someone to be a translator. He found an Asian girl and asked, and she replied, “I’m Chinese,” and the look on his face was priceless, not mad or angry, but just frustrated because he wanted to find someone to translate what he wanted to say.

Finally, he found a girl near the front row and asked her to translate, and the thing he wanted translated was, “The next song is a fun song.” He was looking at her like, “That’s it?” and then either Seunghyun or Jaejin said, “That wasn’t difficult” and then Hongki stood back up and said, “Okay, fun song. This is a fun song.” And then Hongki asked, “Do you know the tu-wi-suh-tuh?” And the audience was like, what? And he said it again, “Tuh-whi-suh-tuh?” and finally, after trying three times to get the audience to understand, Hongki held his hands out and twisted his hips in probably the most obscene version of the dance I have ever seen. Totally not complaining. And during the song, he went to the front of the stage and told everyone to twist with him. I would definitely say that “빙빙빙” performed live is indeed fun. Their entire set was fun. The energy those five treasures have onstage is intense.

During Flower Rock, the second to the last song, everything just stopped, right in the middle of the song and Hongki crouched down in the middle of the stage, took a couple of drinks of water, and said, “We’re going to do something. Sit down. Sit down, sit down. And then we jump at same time. Are you ready?” The music started again, and just like Hongki wanted, everyone in the audience jumped right when Hongki did and then the song ended. I couldn’t believe it. I have never been to a concert where the lead singer has stopped a song, told everyone to sit down and then have them all jump up at the same time. It was such a perfect moment, even though I was so confused and wondering what Hongki was thinking.

After that, FT Island left the stage. I was so sad, because I felt like neither group was able to perform enough songs. And neither of them sang a ballad. But the main lights didn’t come up and I freaked out because that always means the band is going to sing another song. They ended their set with 새들처럼.

After the last song, FT Island called CNBLUE back on stage and they all said goodbye. It was so awesome. And this is where your reviewer (me) and her heart break into a mini-fangirl mode. Minhwan took his jacket off about half way through the set and then he blushed profusely when he realized he was on the big screen and all the fans were cheering at him.

Overall, the concert was extremely good and well organized. It’s hard to describe the energy. Both sets felt really short. I would have loved to hear these guys sing a ballad. I was expecting the concert to be longer, but each group only played for an hour. During some of the language barrier moments, Hongki said the prophetic thing, something that I agree with and that has been one of my mottos during my entire life. He said, “We don’t need words because we have music, right?”

True fact, right there, Hongki. You could tell how much he loved being on that stage, and how grateful and excited he was to have so many international fans. He loved performing, and his energy bled into the audience. I could not have asked for anything better from him, his band and CNBLUE.

Here are the complete set lists:

FT Island:

Hello Hello
모두다 사랑하리
I want
Let it Go!
Flower Rock



Now or Never
Love Girl
Just Please
One Time
Get Away
In My Head
I’m a Loner