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MONSTA X hogs spotlight at KCON 2016 Japan

All Headlines 13:42 April 10, 2016

By Park Sojung

CHIBA, Japan, April 10 (Yonhap) -- It was clear from the decibel level of screaming each act produced at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, east of Tokyo, on Saturday which one commanded the most fans: MONSTA X, a South Korean boy band which is relatively unknown in its home country but apparently has a sprawling fan base in Japan.

The seven-member group was the source of the ear-splitting shrieks heard earlier from Hall 6, where a meet-and-greet took place before hundreds of fans. Each of them had paid almost US$150 for a package plan including tickets for this event and a concert later that evening.

The band took thousands' breath away again as the opening act of "KCON 2016 Japan X M Countdown," a series of concerts running from Saturday to Sunday, starting with its debut track "Trespass."

"We're extremely pleased to meet you all. Thank you for all the support," Kihyun said, his eyes almost glistening with tears.

"They were the best," Shiori Yoshiike, 20, said. She and her friend, Kurisu Yukino, had been K-pop fans since high school freshman year and had made the 1.5-hour trek from Tokyo to see their latest object of admiration.

After MONSTA X, it was the men's turn to stand up and make some noise. Lovelyz, which is also relatively obscure in South Korea but evidently popular in Japan, appeared in Barbie-esque, pink-and-white costumes and started with "Ah-Choo," whose narrator claims to feel sneezy when thinking of her crush. Two more high-pitched songs "For You" and "Hi~" were performed before Nicole, a former member of the now-defunct girl group KARA, took over.

Flaunting her toned biceps and curves in a monokini-like sleeveless black jumpsuit, the Korean-American performed the only all-Japanese-language act of the night, comprised of "Something Special" and "Don't Stop." The crowd, however, became audibly less enthusiastic as the night went on and their memory of MONSTA X older. It didn't help that Nicole stumbled several times in her Japanese speech, which was punctuated by frantic utterances of "Oh my God." Fans were also disappointed by the absence of interaction between Nicole and another former KARA member and the concert's MC, Han Seung-yeon.

"Finished watching KCON live from a movie theater," wrote a Twitter user who goes by the handle, rinzo1815. "Nicole only sang two songs, which was less than the other artists, but her presence was overwhelming. It's a shame she never interacted with Seung-yeon, as I'd hoped, though."

The concert was broadcast live from 30 movie theaters across Japan and will be aired on Mnet Japan on Thursday.

Following Nicole's act, Seolhyun of the girl group AOA appeared alongside Han and her co-MC Yunhak to a frenzied crowd as a special MC.

"I feel proud and grateful whenever I see my photos on the streets," she said before breaking out her signature pose from a South Korean mobile carrier commercial that shot her to instant stardom.

N.Flying, a rock band with boy band visuals that came next, seemingly came away with more fans at the concert with "Awesome," "Lonely" and "Knock Knock."

"I saw N.Flying for the first time, but man, they are hot," a Twitter user, yhr3a, wrote afterwards. An audience member was also heard whispering to another, "I can only see them from the large screen (because a column is in the way), but they're so cool."

The night crescendoed as AOA, WINNER, Block B's Zico and INFINITE's Sungkyu performed in that order. WINNER, a five-member boy band, restored the crowd to its previous delirious state with "SENTIMENTAL," "Go up" and "Just another boy." Zico contributed to the musical diversity with the night's only all-rap set, and Sunkyu closed the act to a wave of cell phone flashlights.

Yoshiike and Yukino, the two 20-year-olds from earlier, were confident Japan wasn't yet over "hallyu," or the Asiawide popularity of Korean pop culture, contrary to apocalyptic views often prescribed by South Korean music critics.

"Look at all the people here," Yukino said, pointing to the herds of people leaving the concert. They formed a steady stream for a good 30 minutes before the venue was empty.

sojungpark@yna.co.kr
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