After proving to have their most unique convention experience to date, KCON 2016 Los Angeles Presented by Toyota ended Day 2 of its three-day Korean-culture extravaganza with its first of two concerts. SHINee, Turbo, Block B, Amber, GFriend, Dean and I.O.I made up the diverse lineup of acts as they all—plus a few special guests—made for an ultra-memorable night and an impressive kickoff to the KCON LA concerts.
See below for the standout moments of the first concert of KCON Los Angeles.
1. Quincy Jones Hearts Korea: Brought to the stage to present the Quincy Jones Recognition Award 2016—a joint honor given to a student that was created by the CJ Cultural Foundation and Berklee College of Music—the legendary producer himself greeted the Staples Center by saying "Annyeong haseyo," a common way to greeting someone in Korea. He continued to speak about how he's "been obsessed of working with Korean artists" and hopes to one day create a "global gumbo of music." Go, Quincy.
2. Lee Minho Reps K-Drama Fans: While KCON New York had a double helping of Korean actors with Yim Si Wan and Park Bo Young, Lee Minho showed up on his own to represent the K-drama and movie lovers. His quick speech laid the groundwork for celebrating KCON's fifth anniversary in the LA area as the 29-year-old told the crowd, "KCON has been taking a part in bringing the world together for five years."
3. I.O.I Make the Most of Their Time: The new girl group opened the show with their single "Dream Girls," before moving into "Pick Me," the theme song of the show Produce 101 where their group was created. While greeting the crowd, English-speaking members Somi (who's half-Korean, half Canadian-Dutch) and Chungha (who spent a few years growing up in Dallas) kept detailing how excited they were, telling the crowd multiple times they couldn't believe how many people there were, and went on a tangent about how they visited different LA studios and went shopping. It was adorable and heartwarming to watch, with Chungha summing it up well saying, "It feels like I'm in a dream right now."
3. Dean Briefly Turns Up: After an introduction video that paints him up as K-pop's new go-to collaborator/songwriter with comments from Lee Hi, Wonder Girls' Yenny and members of EXO, a huge crowd response welcomed Dean to the KCON stage. He performed "Bonnie & Clyde" and "I'm Not Sorry," before quietly walking off the stage, leaving fans wondering if that's all they'd see from the rising R&B star. (Which wouldn't be true)
4. GFriend's Athleticism in Person: It's one thing to watch a music video or live performance from GFriend—who have become known for their intense, athletic choreography—but it's another thing to witness it live in person. All the twirls, leaps and head banging the group does during their live performances is something only to be understood in person.
5. Zico's Block: It wasn't time for Block B to hit the stage just yet, but instead the group's leader Zico gave two special performances to celebrate some of his recent collaborations. He opened the set by performing his solo hit "Boys and Girls" with his band mate U-Kwon handling the vocal part originally done by singer Babylon, before moving into "Pour Up" alongside Dean.
7. Amber's Big Belt: While she's known as the rapper in f(x), Amber showcased her vocal chops during her set at KCON which included her absolutely nailing the difficult belt note in "Borders," a song she had never performed live before now. More vocal moments for Amber, please.
6. Chungha Takes Over for Taeyeon: When Amber performed "Shake That Brass," fans were wondering who would take over the bridge typically sang by Taeyeon of Girls' Generation. Would Taeyeon (who's performing on Sunday) make a surprise appearance? Would Amber tackle it? Instead, Chungha of I.O.I popped onstage to deliver the section, even putting her own spin on Taeyeon's high note at the end, proving lots of promise in the young singer.
7. Turbo Blends Old-School and New-School K-Pop: A super-popular trio during the mid-to-late '90s, Turbo and their performance was not only a treat for longtime K-pop fans, but also for new ones. In a tribute to '90s K-pop, the veteran act was joined by GFriend and new boy band Astro (who perform on Sunday) for a rendition of their 1996 single "Twist King," complete with a kick line.
8. Block B Shows Their Range: When it was finally time for Block B to hit the KCON stage together, the band made sure to show the depth of their different styles. The guys opened with recent, sentimental releases like "Toy" and "A Few Years Later," before doing a complete 180 and getting the arena jumping for bangers "Very Good" and "Her," the former of which saw the guys performing its more aggressive demo version. Also of note: Zico dabbing throughout the performance, not unlike BTS and Eric Nam at KCON New York.
9. SHINee Shines: Like BTS did with their headlining set at KCON New York, SHINee didn't rely on just the hits to woo the audience and instead went for a setlist that spotlighted their many talents. Opening with "View" was fun, but songs like "An Encore" and "Beautiful" gave them the chance to show of their vocals, the former track including Jonghyun's humongous belted note that acted as proof they weren't lip-syncing. Meanwhile, closing with 2014 single "Everybody" was an in-your-face reminder of how well these guys dance with the band performing the intense choreography. The crowd was riled up through each song, despite how different they were, showing how strong SHINee's diversity is a true strong point.
10. Goodbyes: One of the most fascinating parts of KCON concerts is the very end when every act comes out to say goodbye to the audience and the audience gets to see them all interact. When I.O.I returned, "Pick Me" was playing and SHINee was ready to do the do dance as the young ladies passed them, only to have the song changed too quickly. Meanwhile, GFriend and Block B gave respectful bows to one another, while Amber showed her chumminess with SHINee as they all danced together. Elsewhere, we saw Zico and Dean walking alongside one another as were Turbo and Amber.
Watch performers from KCON New York pick their favorite summer songs below: