The K-pop band’s acrobatic moves and candidness with the audience shined at the Prudential Center.
It’s been more than four years since 2PM held their own concert in America. After opening for label mates Wonder Girls on their 2010 U.S. tour, the boy band returned Stateside for their first shows in years and, despite their heavy focus overseas, still proved to have a supportive fanbase that they wowed with a remarkable blend of high-performance stunts and candid intimacy with the crowd.
For the four-date U.S. trek’s kickoff at New Jersey’s Prudential Center, the band brought an extravagant stage setup boasting huge LED screens on the main stage, that doubled as platforms for the band to perform on, and a long runway extending through the floor level. Even though the massive arena was sliced in half, it was the type of intricate setup that wouldn’t have fit in a smaller venue making the booking appropriate. Plus, that runway would play an important role by the second song of the show.
Opening with 2009 single “Heartbeat,” 2PM appeared in six completely different outfits (from Taecyeon in a sleeveless leather jacket to Nichkhun‘s multi-colored jumper) already visually setting themselves apart from past Korean boy band concerts this year that almost always introduce the member in matching outfits for the first few songs. The guys started out looking a little tired (jet lag can do that to you, Nichkhun tweeted about him succumbing to it a day earlier), but their energy noticeably perked up once they moved into the second song, “Without You,” running out to the fans surrounding them on the runway. Already in the first two songs, 2PM was jumping around the stage and performing acrobatic stunts, including Junho flipping over his band mates, making that energy-infusing runway all the more important.
The technical choreography continued throughout songs like “Go Crazy!” (where the boys gracefully tip over and fall to the floor), “10 Out of 10” (Junho ended the performance with an air carthwheel), “Superman” (Jun.K and Wooyoung whipped out B-boy moves) and “A.D.T.O.Y.” (featuring the music video’s chair choreography).
But what was equally remarkable was 2PM’s candor. While many K-pop acts are very formal with their audiences, 2PM was willing to have a lot of fun the crowd and one another. U.S.-natives Nichkhun and Taecyeon, the latter star being from the East Coast himself, spoke almost entirely to audience in English and used it for memorable interactions. When Taec began explaining how the group usually does a cover in the country’s native language, instead of ignoring a fan who requested Nicki Minaj‘s “Anaconda,” he responded to directly to them, saying, “I’m not going to sing ‘Anaconda!'” cracking everyone up. The joke continued on throughout the show with the guys intermittently breaking into a few bum shakes while softly rapping “My anaconda don’t, my anaconda don’t!” — much to the delight of the crowd.
The band continued to pay a lot of attention the crowd, getting up-close with those near the runway and frequently touching fans’ hands. Despite Taecyeon and Nichkyun’s teasing their band mates to talk in English, the non-native members did their best with the language (Jun.K and Chansung both communicated quite well), but even any Korean they spoke in got a nice response from the audience even with no translator on hand.
Other visual thrills came from the show’s occasional sexiness including Chansung and Taecyeon ripping off their shirts and exposing their abs at the end of a joint performance of “Please Come Back,” plus body rolls on “I’m Your Man” along with booty shakes and guy-to-guy touching on “10 Out of 10.” As well, the humungous LED screens sometimes completely transformed the stage; at one point looking like the guys were performing inside a castle on show standouts “I’m Your Man” and “A.D.T.O.Y.”
Visuals aside, 2PM’s honest relationship with the audience was perhaps the most remarkable part. “We’re a Korean band, I didn’t think a lot of people would come,” Taecyeon admitted to the crowd. But the crowd reaction from the performance seemed to give them the confidence to return as soon as possible with the guys telling the audience multiple times they’ll be back soon.