Neon outfits, hip hop and urban inspired head-to-toe looks, outrageous and daring hairstyles filled the streets of Downtown, Los Angeles on Friday night, August 24, 2012. If you didn’t know any better, you would’ve thought there was a costume party somewhere in the middle of L.A. Live. No, there wasn’t a costume party nor an early prep of Halloween that night; instead, it was 2NE1’s “New Evolution” concert at the Nokia Theatre – their first official World Tour. After wowing Newark, New Jersey, the melting pot of Los Angeles got the chance to witness South Korea’s very own piece of swag, urban, and pop: Dara, Minzy, Park Bom, and 2NE1’s leader, CL live. South Korea’s hip-hop girl group of YG Entertainment, one of South Korea’s biggest and prestigious recording label, brought together people of all ages, race, and gender that night. Strobe neon lights and urban stage props filled the stadium as 2NE1 danced and performed songs from their debut album, To Anyone, to their latest single, “I Love You.” Continue reading for more details and photos from the concert!
Walking towards the entrance of the theater and through the youthful and bustling L.A. Live, a fan like myself walked with a crowd dressed in scandalous neon outfits, winged high-top sneakers, or Dara-inspired infamous hairstyle: the palm tree-like ponytail. What was more interesting, to a South-Korean fan like myself, than the 2NE1 inspired outfits of urbanism, pop, and futurism was that 2NE1 had cultivated a fan following beyond just Asians and Asian-Americans. There were Caucasians, Hispanics, and African-Americans all dying and waiting to see what it would be like to be in the presence of 4 petite bad-asses from South Korea.
Inside, the coveted and elegant theater transformed into what felt like the biggest club in the world. While no one could’ve seen the actual faces and bodies of the jam packed audience, it was easy to believe that there were people there as lit up glow sticks, or lamps of some kind, bobbed up and down all throughout the sold out 2 hour concert. While 2NE1 performed upbeat, electrified dance songs such as: “I Am The Best,” “Go Away,” “Can’t Nobody,” “Try to Follow Me,” “Stay Together,” “Scream,” and “Let’s Go Party” the sea of glowing lights danced and jumped up and down while singing along to one song after another – all in Korean. Smoke machines; flashing lights; stage props like an inflatable lipstick and slide in shape of a tongue; the girls in colorful jersey outfits, ghetto gold chains, and neon and leather looks brought the songs I’ve been repeating on my computer and stereo to life. The diverse audience lowered their adrenaline level just a little bit, but still screaming and singing word for word, when 2NE1 performed slower, ballad-like songs such as: “It Hurts,” “Lonely,” Park Bom’s solos “Don’t Cry” and “You and I,” and “In the Club.” The girls and their back up dancers, as well as their lively band, kept the show and audience going as short performances filled in between every few songs and outfit changes. It was either CL showing off her DJ skills, spinning to hits like Rihanna’s “We Fell in Love in a Hopeless Place;” fit dancers clad in all white and/or fish-net shirts dancing to electrifying beats; Dara performing her solo “Kiss” to one lucky make audiemce on stage; or Minzy showing off her hip-hop dance skills that kept the audience wanting for more.
Again, as a Korean fan of 2NE1 it was refreshing and surprising to see people of all races, whether or not they knew and understood the Korean language, going insane and crazy over these four badass females like I did. Friday night’s “New Evolution” concert made it clear that K-Pop didn’t just stop at the overnight sensational phenomenon of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” – another product of YG Entertainment—here in the States. It was even more apparent that South Korea’s piece of Hip Hop music won the hearts and ears of all as will.i.am and apl.de.ap joined 2NE1’s encore performances. Hoping for another encore, traces of 2NE1 were still vibrant even after the 2-hour energy overload of swag, pop, and urban came to a close: the theatre rung with a chanting of “2NE1, 2NE1, 2NE1, 2NE1…” as 7,100 fans realized that the “New Evolution” live was over for the night.