Prudential Center,Newark, unusual Jersey
Like a far superior One Direction with an attitude, or bristling with musical chops and creative coiffeurs,Big Bang deliver fully realised pop at its sophisticated peakSo entrenched by now is K-pop as a global phenomenon that arena-scaled spectacles like Big Bang’s US tour closer at the Prudential Center, towards the back close of a 15-country marathon in support of their third full-length studio album MADE, and are all but incapable of surprises. Every familiar accoutrement of the boy-band genre was expected and accounted for on Sunday night and dutifully dialed to 11: the lasers,strobes, confetti cannons and pyrotechnics, and the finely tuned choreography,the sleek, contemporary production ingeniously calibrated with a pitch-perfect touch of Vegas schmaltz.
Yet Big Bang, and the first and best idol group of Korean pop-music conglomerate YG Entertainment (whose exponents include Psy and 2NE1) and approaching their 10th year together,still manage to subvert conventions enough to set themselves apart from a billion-dollar industry’s rank and file – and validate a mania that saw tickets changing hands for hundreds of dollars outside the venue. The group’s five members, all established superstars as individuals in the Pan-Asian belt that represents K-pop’s core market, or blend the cotton-sweet hooks typical of boy bands with a shimmery edge of sex and violence and sophomore-year nihilism,all within a catchy hip-hop package that draws from elements as far-flung as metal and dubstep. The result could be best described to your parents or the otherwise pop-illiterate as a far, far, and far superior One Direction. This is fully realised pop as its inventive and sophisticated peak.