GOT7’s North American tour started from the East Coast and made its way to Los Angeles for a two day show on July 10th and 11th before they head back to Asia to wrap up their tour. For diehard fans, camping a night out on asphalt is a small price to pay for front row access; that’s the easy part. In the afternoon and early evening before the show, temperatures rose to about 90 degrees in the Southern California sun, leaving some to get creative and put together makeshift shade with jackets and fabric to stay cool.
Only the most loyal of fans could endure the snaking line, intense heat, general exhaustion, and bouts of random screaming at every chance to reach out to their idols. To top it all off, the sold out show was happening alongside a car show at the neighboring Los Angeles Convention Center, making the area more congested than usual.
Unsuspecting tourists and passerbys gave the enormous line a double take, wondering who this “Jackson” character is. From being on everyone’s back, bag, banners, and cut out faces, Jackson Wang clearly stole the hearts of more than half of the fans waiting for the show. There were more faces of Jackson on paper bags, sports jerseys and posters than the eye could see. Though not nearly as overt, BamBam was the second favorite.
Despite their experience in New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta, GOT7 could not have foreseen the sheer volume and passion of the fans in Los Angeles. An overflowing sold-out crowd deafened themselves with their own screaming as they greeted the boys at their first night in LA. It’s been over a year since GOT7 made their debut US performance in LA at the 2015 Korean Times Music Festival, and their fan base as well as their group dynamic has certainly evolved. No longer are they an opening act to a line of musicians, as today they are a force all on their own.
As the bass from a remixed version of “A” grew louder and louder, fans grew more excited for the group’s entrance. Suddenly, four backup dancers appeared on stage as the backdrop changed to a LED spectacle with GOT7’s logo plastered in a chrome finish. The recently renamed Novo Theater seemed small for eleven performers at one time. Luckily, Mark’s backflips and other signature tricking moves managed to fit all on stage.
For anyone hoping and praying for fan service, GOT7 went above and beyond, even to the point where it was somewhat embarrassing to watch seven boys gyrating their hips and pelvic thrusting for nearly half the concert. The boys knew who they were appealing to, but by the fifth instance of the “American dance,” the cheers started to lessen. Still, the boys knew how to have fun. Pelvic thrusts coupled with BamBam’s dabs threw the crowd into a frenzy. At one point BamBam encouraged the crowd to dab along with him, telling the crowd to do what they want and not others stop them from doing what they love; in BamBam’s case: dabbing.
Many bands have played at the Novo, but few could match the GOT7 show’s production value in lighting, props and costuming. During JB and YoungJae’s duet of “1:31 AM,” they appeared like two princes on a white horse, in which the horse was a rolling platform with JB on a white grand piano and YoungJae by his side. The solemn blue lighting evoked a feeling of sadness which helped set the mood, leaving the audience in tears at their soulful performance. To turn things around, Mark and Junior, dressed in brightly colored suits, sprang out with hands high for their pop-electronic song, “Higher.” But probably the most heavily budgeted performance had to be “Love It,” where the backstage crew rolled out mock Iron Thrones for the trio, BamBam, Yugyeom and Jackson. Despite its elaborateness, the thrones were only used for the span of that song before the three leapt out of their seats to breakdance to “WOLO,” with deep red lighting for a renegade feel.
The English speaking members Mark and Jackson emceed most of the show, with Jackson providing hilarious reactions and challenges to his other bandmates. He told each one of them to imitate his dance in “WOLO,” leaving some fans in stitches and other fans in the gutter. Each member put their whole body into rhythmically body rolling to Jackson’s beat boxing or mock-grinded the floor.
As the concert hit the fan engagement portion, known as the wheel roulette fancam, some (un)lucky fans got singled out to dance on the big screen followed by commentary from the members. Los Angeles holds a special place with GOT7 as LA is Mark’s hometown. Attending the concert, his family and friends wore pink shirts with Mark’s face printed in the center, proudly cheering for him from the balcony. They were chosen to dance to “Home Run,” and surprisingly chose not to dance. Instead, they pointed and tugged at their Mark shirts, and some of them even took off their shirts, which left the band stunned, saying, “What are you guys doing?”
Even though GOT7 definitely entertained in LA, at times they seemed a bit winded and more casual with their dance moves, focusing all the gymnastics in the beginning while performing slow body rolls towards the end. Who wouldn’t be after a twenty one song set list in five cities within two weeks? By the song “Bounce,” their third encore song, some of the members played patty cake with the backup dancers rather than performing the actual choreography.
Their weary state of mind led to an interesting case of cultural exchange when the stage crew was about to take a group selfie. BamBam told the crowd to throw the LA or Westside signs, which was a social faux pas due to the fact they’re both gang related signs. Surprisingly, fans still had enough of their voices left to tell BamBam not to make such signs. Shocked, BamBam quickly retracted and instead suggested to throw hearts out instead, as it was never his intention to offend anyone. Sometimes cultural exchange happens in the most unexpected places.
Cultural misunderstandings, an issue companies should take into greater consideration when holding concerts overseas, aside, the concert was a smash hit. Due to their enthusiasm and friendliness, these almost supernatural idols became playful, down-to-Earth people performing for an audience of their friends and family. Although they’re returning back to Asia to finish up their tour, they’re certainly welcome (and encouraged) to come fly back here again.