College is about adventure, about pushing yourself to follow your passions, to do crazy, stupid things you never dreamed you could or would do and making precious memories that you can’t let yourself forget.
Last weekend, I had the adventure of a lifetime: a road trip to New York to see my favorite band in concert with two of my dearest friends. The South Korean band Best. Absolute. Perfect (B.A.P) visits America once every year or two, and only ever hits the large cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc. Being a small town girl, living in a lonely Ohio world, I had never been to New York before, nor had I travelled nearly 600 miles (one way) for a concert, but life is too short, and when I found out I could get the tickets, I had to seize the chance while I had it.
The concert began with an opening act, South Korean DJ B.Shoo, who remixed both B.A.P and popular American tracks to pump up the crowd, drenching us in sweat before the guys even came on stage.
A countdown flashed across the monitors, and bunnies (the band’s mascot lightsticks) started flailing, the crowd a writhing entity illuminated in the green glow. When I thought we would lose our voices, we found the strength to push out an even harder cry as we counted down from five to one, and our six heroes emerged from the shadows.
The set list opened with remix of some of the band’s most popular hits, numbers:”Hurricane,” “No Mercy” and “Dancing in the Rain,” getting the crowd on their feet in a frenzy of excitement. Visual member Kim Himchan was the star of the skit mid-show, when he got to choose an audience member to join the band onstage to share a beverage. The vocalists each had solo stages, performing songs they wrote themselves. Other memorable sets include the provocative pieces “I Guess I Need U” and “Body & Soul,” making both fanboys and fangirls alike squeal at B.A.P.’s sex appeal. The encore was full of energetic tracks, with the members teaching the crowd simple choreography to dance with us. After two sets of encore songs, the members finally left the stage for good, and we all stood in awe, hugging each other and laughing.
Main vocalist Jung Daehyun brought me to tears on several occasions with his powerful falsetto range larger than life; no YouTube video could ever do him justice. The same goes for lead vocalist Yoo Youngjae, whose raspy vocals licked your ears every time he opened his mouth. Main dancer Moon Jongup was on fire, with popping choreography that was utterly flawless. And Choi Junhong, the youngest member of the group, was beyond sassy, shaking his butt at the crowd frequently, laying on the ground shouting “I’m tired!” in English after dancing alone on stage between sets.
The band is known for its passionate lyrics about serious world issues, such as equality, justice and mental illness, to name a few. The title of this tour, “Party Baby,” had these emotional songs sprinkled throughout an upbeat set list of several of its dance-inspired tracks. This tour sparked the return of the group’s leader, Bang Yongguk, from his hiatus, having been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder last fall that affected him both personally and professionally. The fans rejoiced, and throughout the concert, we held up signs we made to honor him and show him our love and support, screamed when he rapped and held up green ribbons in honor of anxiety awareness during the song “Wake Me Up,” which Yongguk wrote about his disorder.
After the concert, my best friend and I were two of 200 lucky individuals that were chosen to meet the members and take a group photo with them. We were beyond excited, making new friends and sharing stories on how the music this band produces addresses the hardest and most beautiful aspects of life, and how this message transcends all cultural boundaries to change our lives.
It wasn’t all magical, however. The event staff was very unorganized, and caused a lot of confusion for both the fans and the band. Every staff member seemed to have been told a different schedule for the evening’s events, and they were screaming at each other and at us fans with conflicting messages on where to go and what to do, which put the band on edge.
Regardless, when it was my turn to stand with the guys, the staff gave us less than 20 seconds to get into position, snap a photo and leave, yelling at us to move immediately. I was mere feet from my favorite singer, my hero, and I wasn’t giving up this chance to talk to him, despite what consequences would come.
I walked up to Daehyun, standing about a foot before him, and made a heart with my hand like the fangirl trash I am, and spoke to him in Korean, telling him I loved him and respected him. With the staff screaming for me to leave, Daehyun ignored them and stopped everything to share a moment with me, making eye contact, smiling and giving me a wave as the staff got me out so the next group could take their photo.
My heart pounding as I exited the place, I grabbed my best friend’s arm and hugged her, both of us amazed at my sudden burst of confidence. I met my hero. The man who inspired me as a musician, as a world citizen and as a human being.
College is about adventure, and doing crazy, stupid things for the sake of your humanity. And I finally feel like I understand what it means to be alive.