There were a lot of things atypical about B.A.P’s U.S. tour.
As a K-pop idol group, the six-member boy band would thrive in an environment similar to performing in their native Korea: technologically-advanced flashy concert stages for shows in the biggest cities. This was the arrangement when they performed at KCON 2012 in Los Angeles and that BIGBANG, 2NE1 and SM Entertainment artists had for their arena shows in New York and L.A.
But things were a little different this time around. With Verizon Wireless and Asian entertainment brand Mnet America behind them, B.A.P embarked on a four-date theatre tour for the Verizon Presents APAHM Concert Tour 2013: B.A.P LIVE ON EARTH.
In the matter of 10 days, the boys hit the usual L.A. and N.Y., but also performed for fans in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Not only were B.A.P fans treated to the live show, but the tour’s sponsors and the group brought fans a private “high touch” event to each stop where 100 fans were selected to give each B.A.P member a high-five—a popular practice in Asia. According to Mnet America, it was the first high touch event in the U.S. open to the public as similar fan interactions needed to be bought with special packages in the past.
If that sounds like too foreign of a concept for Americans to grasp, well, you should talk to the seven fans Billboard spotted crying after high fiving Bang Yong Guk, Him Chan, Dae Hyun, Young Jae, Jong Up and Zelo (aka B.A.P). But if the reaction seems shocking, the boys themselves were just as shocked as the reaction for their tour.
“There’s a lot more energy and noise than we expected,” vocalist Dae Hyun tells Billboard (via translator) a day before the tour’s final concert. “Everybody — even those in the seated areas — would get up and cheer ‘til the end of the show. We were really excited about the response and didn’t expect it.”
That excitement carried over to the Best Buy Theatre for their New York stop — at times, to a dangerous extent as one female concert goer fainted and needed to be carried out of the general admission pit before the show even began. The crowd moved like an unforgiving sea, squeezing those at the front (some of whom were in line the night before).
Danger aside — for B.A.P, the ultra-enthusiasm translated to a deeper connection with their U.S. fans.
“It seemed like fans were really dancing together with us, rather than just cheering for us” reflects singer/dancer/rapper and major B.A.P visual Himchan (via translator). “That was something that brought the American fans to a different level. They were really dancing along to all of it and we really thought there was more of a connection between our fans in America.”
The group continued to feed that connection by performing their biggest hits, like their three Top 5 World Digital Songs hits including show opener “Warrior” (peaked at No. 5), “Rain Sound” (No. 5) and “One Shot” (No. 3). Plus, the fans got some super-special stages including Dae Hyun and Young Jae’s duet for R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” Jong Up and Zelo’s hip-hop-themed dance- and rap-off on “Teach Me How to Dougie” and Bang Yong Guk’s DJ set which led into him and Him Chan performing a blazing, unreleased dance track “Sexy Clap.”
At no fault to B.A.P, the Best Buy Theatre’s boring stage has such bare lighting and prop options that it’s difficult for any act to create a visually-impressive live stage like fellow K-poppers BIGBANG and 2NE1 could for their respective arena shows. But this might have worked to the group’s advantage as it became clear how in-synch the group moved as well as how well prepared they were for any type of stage
But after conquering the elements working against them in America, do they even consider it an important territory? Many K-pop groups first move their focus to other Asian territories (usually Japan first), but with just under a year and a half under their belts and seven song promotions, B.A.P has conquered more than some do in three years and have visited the States.
“America is definitely a place we have a lot of ambitions in,” charismatic leader Bang Yong Guk says (via translator). “One of our biggest goals is to be ranked on the Billboard charts in America. So, in order to achieve that goal, if the opportunity comes to work more out here then they’ll definitely be doing it.”
B.A.P — who is currently studying English, Japanese and other languages — recently hit a major accomplishment when they earned their first No. 1 on Billboard’s World Album Chart in March with the “One Shot” EP. It was quite a fete for a group still considered new to the K-pop scene as established acts like TVXQ!, Super Junior, Wonder Girls and Girls’ Generation topped in the past twelve months.
But by seeing different fans in different parts of the country, B.A.P may find their Billboard dreams come true. The group is currently working on new music while performing tour dates in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Past singles like “One Shot” and “Warrior” combine different elements of rock, hip-hop, pop and cinematic soundtrack elements. While Bang Yong Guk says fans won’t see as many singles from B.A.P in 2013, they will all be of a similar high quality. “B.A.P is trying really hard to create a diverse type of music,” he explains. “So not only just pop artists, but we would love to have the opportunity to work with jazz artists, hip-hop artists, R&B artists so they can diversify their type of music.”
B.A.P must be doing something right to become a standout group in the saturated K-pop idol field. As the group showed different sides of themselves up-close and personal at their New York stop — despite the very un-K-pop set-up — the show made it clear there’s further potential for B.A.P in America.
“Even though we’re only just six Korean guys, we really feel like this opportunity in America was a real dream come true,” Bang Yong Guk concludes. “So, this has been really exciting for us. We’ll definitely be touring and meeting more fans around the world. We hope to come back to America to have more of those opportunities.”
In fact, if the media and fans’ responses align, B.A.P may not only find more opportunities in the States, but also may have made a major step in convincing other K-pop acts to visit. The stop proved that these acts do not need to sell out an arena—nor be the biggest name in the game—to hold a successful, meaningful, faint-inducing show in the notoriously difficult U.S. market.
The scene in Times Square outside the MTV studio was reminiscent of the heyday of TRL - hundreds of excited fans gathered in the streets for a chance to see B.A.P perform live in New York City.
Thursday night K-Pop superstars, B.A.P performed live in the MTV studio for MTV K Presents B.A.P Live in NYC, an exclusive show live streamed on MTV K’s official website. The event included a performance of four hit B.A.P songs as well as a question and answer segment with fans in the audience.
Just looking around at the crowd gathered in front of the MTV studio, it was clear to see that B.A.P really do live up to their name - Best. Absolute. Perfect.
The fans were a diverse mix of ages and races, proving that the powerful Korean hip-hop group’s music has wide-ranging appeal.
“We haven’t had this big a crowd in a while,” one crew member said to another as they gazed down from the studio in awe of the Babyz in the street holding signs and cheering.
In the studio for sound check there were a handful of VIPs who had participated in various contests to win the opportunity to witness the intimate performance.
“I’m the Twitter contest winner. I get to ask them a question,” said Heather Folsom, a B.A.P fan from Ohio. “I really wanted to be here, so I asked about a hundred questions on Twitter and they chose one of them.”
Folsom also explained that many of the Babyz had traveled long distances to see B.A.P’s concert in New York and to attend the various fan events. “I am part of a Facebook group for B.A.P fans who were coming to the concert from all over. We all finally got to meet in person this morning,” she explained.
And not just Folsom, but the select audience in the studio was full of excited fans who had traveled from around the US and Canada to support B.A.P - and judging by the energy in the room, the travel was worth it.
When B.A.P finally entered the studio, the Babyz almost didn’t know what to do with themselves. The initial reaction was to scream, but suddenly it turned to a mix of hushes and self-contained squeals as the idols took the stage before their drop-jawed fans.
Although the stage itself was rather small, as B.A.P performed four of their hit songs, their dynamic choreography and lively on-stage personalities overwhelmed the room and had everyone singing and dancing along.
They started out by singing their recent hit single, “One Shot” and the cheers from fans inside the studio, as well as out on in Times Square, were so loud it was actually difficult to hear the song.
After the first number the group was asked what is it that sets them apart from other K-Pop groups. The members all looked to leader Yong Guk to answer. He paused for a moment, then responded rather matter-of-factly, “Hard core style.” The Babyz in the studio seemed to agree whole-heartedly as instantly there was a deafening roar of cheers.
B.A.P’s second song, “Rain Sound” slowed things down a bit, but they performed with so much passion it was easy to see they were really happy to have the opportunity to be there.
“No Mercy” was an absolutely unbelievable performance. The energy level was through the roof, so much so that even several staff and crew members could not help but dance along. All six members exuded swag as they filled up the entire stage.
For the final song B.A.P performed their debut single, the intensely powerful “Warrior.” The group gave it their all for the finale, enticing the fans to get their hands in the air and scream as loud as possible.
When it was all over, they headed back into the dressing room to cool down and prepare for the Q&A segment, giving the Babyz a much needed break as well.
During the interview portion of B.A.P Live in NYC there was a lot of laughter as the guys cracked jokes all while answering the fan questions earnestly.
One of the most entertaining parts was when an audience member asked “Who does the best impression of Yong Guk and Zelo’s rapping?” In unison the guys answered, “Him Chan!” causing the audience to egg him on and show off his impersonation. He lowered his voice a few registers and delivered a slow line of rap a’la Yong Guk then sped things up in a frenzy of lyrics in Zelo’s style. The Babyz went wild and everyone laughed and applauded.
When asked about what their experience in New York had been like so far, all six B.A.P members agreed that it has been very exciting. They mentioned a shopping excursion on Fifth Avenue the day before and raved about cheeseburgers from Shake Shack, a famed New York establishment.
Later, when Jong Up was asked what superpower he would like to have, he responded (in English), “Teleport,” causing a stir of cheers from fans impressed by his language skills. He then added that if he could teleport, he would be able to return to New York whenever he wanted… and eat at Shake Shack again.
As the B.A.P Live in NYC event came to a close, the members took the time to thank their international fans, as well as those in the studio and outside, for their support and encouragement. As they left the studio for the last time, they moved through the crowd and gave high fives to the Babyz, smiling from ear to ear.
We want to check B.A.P’s power with their Pacific Tour
Q: It’s not just in Korea, but you are incredibly popular overseas as well, why do you think that is?
Bang Yongguk: We’re honored to be asked this. To be honest, we haven’t realized real popularity yet. Of course, we can feel all of our (overseas) fans’ love, but whether it’s a love for K-pop in general, or for B.A.P, I don’t really know.
Young Jae: Yeah. When I heard that this current album “One Shot” has been number 1 in America, Canada, Taiwan, Malaysia, and other countries, I was really surprised. When I heard that the tickets for the concerts in America and Japan were sold out, I got goose bumps. But as Yongguk-hyung said, is that K-Pop’s popularity or our own popularity, I guess we want to see when we go on tour.
Q: You have concerts in different foreign countries, but are you studying any foreign languages?
Himchan: Lately all the members have been into studying languages. Especially Japanese and English.
Zelo: Within our members, it’s kind of a study contest so we’re all doing our very best (laughs). Whichever country it is, as much as we study it’s very difficult, but it’s still really fun.
Q: Who is the most popular member overseas?
YJ: I think all our members are pretty even. When you look at all 6 of us together, our personalities are very distinct, it doesn’t seem like one member is the most popular.
Q: It’s being called LTE level growth, the speed that you rose in popularity, what do you think makes B.A.P different from other idols?
YG: That’s to do with the feel of music, right? Because our message and our music has been put together and compliments the other, it creates a very strong feeling, I think. Our dancing is also very powerful, but other groups go for a cute and bright image I think. When you look at it that way, our group is different.
Q: With your debut last year, you haven’t had any breaks. Since you have no off time, do you feel any dissatisfaction?
Jong Up: We’re actually very thankful. Even though we’re rookies, (our company) believed in us, supported us, and gave us satisfactory promotions. Also, even our fans have been worried about our lack of rest, but it doesn’t mean we don’t rest. On our days off we exercise or practice, also it feel like time off when we travel overseas (laughs). We are enjoying every day.
Q: Your Solo concert in Seoul wrapped up successfully. What are some thoughts or regrets on that?
Daehyun: “B.A.P Live on Earth Seoul” was our first solo concert, so it was an indescribably feeling. Since we were kids we dreamed of being on stage, and for that day to come, it’s impossible to forget.
YJ: Since Himchan was injured, we couldn’t be together from beginning to end, so I regret that. Standing on stage with the 6 of us together, it was the time I realized how thankful I am…
Q: How is Himchan’s injury? Has it healed?
HC: Yes! It’s gotten much better. Everyday I wanted to meet our fans soon, so I felt I must do my best to get better. There were many people who were worried about me. Thank you so much.
Q: Is there any country you have never been to that you want to perform in…?
Z: I want to go to Europe and have a concert. It’s not on the schedule for the Pacific tour, but I heard that Europe’s reaction (to us?) was very good. There are people in Europe who know about and love us, that’s a real honor. If we can go do a concert in Europe I will be so happy.
Q: Please give a message to your Japanese fans.
HC: All our fans in Japan! We are counting down the days until we can meet you. To meet your expectations we will do our best, please wait a little longer! Please continue to love and support us. Let’s meet soon!!
Translations by Nicole © bapyessir.com; Take out with full credits.
B.A.P Interview & Event Report in “Crazy for Asian Stars” Magazine
B.A.PAt long last on their way to Japan!B.A.P debuted in Korea in January of last year. Their performance overflows with charisma, as they drive forward heating up the Korean music world, they are the ones to watch. With their first solo concert in Korea of February this year, at long last they’re on their way to Japan! Overflowing with the feeling that “We want to meet our Japanese BABYz soon!” we interview B.A.P before their arrival in Japan.
Q: B.A.P is a group that has claimed 13 rookie awards domestically, and also has the eyes of the world watching, but you haven’t been able to take a rest with all the running around you’ve been doing since your debut. Looking back now, what memories have you made?Yongguk: I can never forget “B.A.P Live on Earth Seoul.” To make the best show possible, we really co-operated a lot, people who came just to see music, sang and joined their voices to become one, I was really happy. From now on, I want to continue greeting fans though our concerts.Himchan: The thing that stands out in my memory the most, and was a happy experience, was “1st BABY Day.” It was our original fanclub, so preparations were fun. While we were preparing all the members were practicing together, I remember how exciting it was. There were times we were busy promoting albums, but we forgot how tired we were and did our best, and we had fun.Daehyun: For me, it’s the first Showcase. We debuted under the name B.A.P, it was the first time being together with the members on stage, even now it’s fresh in my mind. We were usually just in the rehearsal space, so as we were in front of a lot of people showing ourselves for the first time, we were really nervous, but seeing all the fans who filled the venue, I remember my goosebumps.Young Jae: For me, it’s the reality show with the members before our debut that was very fun for me, also “B.A.P Live on Earth Seoul” made memories for me that are impossible to forget. Usually we were the image we showed on camera, but getting the chance to be in front of fans and showing them something completely different made me very happy.Jong Up: It’s the time we won the Rookie Award, for me. When we first debuted, our goal was to win the Rookie Award, so when our goal was realized I was so happy. I can’t really believe it even now.Zelo: For me it’s also when we won the Rookie Award, I don’t think I’ll forget it. At the time we won, I was surprised and my heart was so full I couldn’t speak and could only cry, but I was so happy.
We’re finally at our last issue! Thank you so much for taking care of us, we are eternally grateful.
Y – Yongguk Z – Zelo
Y: Since this is the last issue, we should put in our all.
Y: Zelo do you still remember when we first met?
Z: Of course I do, Yongguk hyung you were with Himchan hyung having a serious conversation in the dance studio, the atmosphere was eerie. (laughs) But no matter what I still had to greet you, and when I did, the only respond I got was “Ah” (laughs) I will never forget about that.
Y: Ah~~ Yes, when B.A.P was formed, all the other people who worked with us previously left not too long after, so we were wondering when Zelo will leave too. (laughs)
Z: To be honest at first I found hyung really frightening and intimidating (laughs) But back then, I still thought that he really was born to be a leader.
Y: Zelo was really young when he joined B.A.P, so I was especially worried about him. After all we do have quite a large age difference, however because he was able to clearly separate his personal and work related matters, and that he had a good sense of judgement, I was a lot more assured. But then again, it’s all because of my careful upbringing!
Z: Yes~ (laughs) I learned a lot from Yongguk hyung. I learned how to interact with others, and I found that rather than learning from books and theories, it is more rewarding to do things hands on and interact with my hyungs to learn more about them. Yongguk hyung sometimes do really crazy things even though he seems like such a calm and collected person. For example, he will just barge out of his room, open the fridge door and mutter something incoherent at us before going back to his room again… which made us all laugh.
Y: Ah~~ these things shouldn’t be brought up (embarrassed) If I was the same age as Zelo, I reckon we would become really close friends.
Z: Rather than being friends, I think it’s more suitable for us to become opponents. Just like now, our relationship will be one where we both try our hardest to reach our goals and in the process, we will be able to help each other grow and improve.
Y: Really~ Zelo, if you had a noona you would introduce her to me right?
Z: Of course~ Even though hyung gives off a cold impression, he is actually really gentle to ladies and he’s also really manly.
Y: Hehehe (shy) These interviews so far have been talking about working along with different partners, but I reckon Jongup wins the title of “not being able to work well with a partner”.
Z: Jongup hyung’s mind is really difficult to grasp. (laughs) Even though we spend so much time with him there are still multiple occasions where none of us understand him. He looks older than his age, it’s confusing.
Y: I really like how Jongup is like that though. People should be showing others their natural selves. He is really exactly the same in real life as he is presented on TV. He doesn’t care about his appearance and has a really pure and innocent heart. He is the one member whom I still haven’t been able to fully understand.
Z: I think I’m the one who knows him best though!
Y: Well that concludes our last interview.
Z: Hallyu Pier is the first Japanese Magazine that we were interviewed for, and I still find it a little hard to believe that we have been able to appear on so many issues! The filming and the interviewing had all been really fun!
Y: I hope that through these interviews, our fans are able to understand us more. Idols are not only celebrities, but they are also role models that children look up to. B.A.P will see that as our goal and we will try our best to fulfill that.
Z: I agree~ And we hope that everyone will be able to shine in their areas of expertise at least one in their lifetimes.
Y: Thank you for everyone who supported us in the past year. We are really grateful and really happy that we are gaining more and more fans. I would like to thank you all once again. It’s a shame that this is finally coming to an end, we look forward to working with Hallyu Pier again in the future, please anticipate!
Japanese to Chinese translation : CHARGING_ZELO中文网
Chinese to English translation : taecaway
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Zelo: “I am also now in my second year of high school; it isn’t just simply another school year, but I wish that everyone would think of this as one step closer to their dreams.”
Six aliens that came to Earth to conquer the Earth - their name is B.A.P, meaning Best Absolute Perfect where they’ll “perfect in the greatest way possible.” We wonder what these six men are thinking, considering they give off a serious aura. From A to Z, this is the very detailed story of B.A.P.
“We were greedy to communicate with music rather than words”
B.A.P was quiet but strong. Although it was a brutal year for rookies in 2012, they were on a different scale in successfully holding their (debut) showcase to their very own solo concert. This was beyond the progress that any other idol in their first year into their debut has achieved and this is also the reason why we continue to be curious of B.A.P. While questions were being tossed back and forth, what we felt through this interview was that they weren’t as quiet as we thought them out to be, and that they’re a group beyond what we imagine.
Thoughts about turning 20
Something I have to do since I turned 20
What type of adult do I want to be, the me whom I dream to be 20 years later?
Although I still cannot believe the fact that I have already turned 20, I can feel the sense of responsibility from the change of the “1” to “2” in the first digit of my age. A year has passed since B.A.P started. The moment when I started (T/N: debuted) through B.A.P was the biggest turning point in my life. Everyday felt like a new beginning throughout the year living as a member of B.A.P.
This year, I would like to let more people know about the group called B.A.P. And, if I have the time, I would like to go on a vacation freely. It would be nice even if it is a vacation where I sling a backpack over my shoulder.
I always want to be an adult who is comfortable like a friend. Truthfully, although it is not easy to approach others comfortably in the place called society due to competition and interests, I thought that I can be a friend who others can feel fully comfortable with as long as I change my thoughts slightly. Of course, I have the thoughts of working towards to be that type of person. And, after 20 years, maybe I will be a father of a happy family?
Source: Star1 Magazine April 2013 Issue
Translation: @ProtectBAPSG | www.protectbap7.tumblr.com
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