Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

After spectacular Kpop shows have recently made their way through the Seattle area the genre is gaining more and more fans with every performance. At the moment we seem to be the city every one of these bands hits on the first stop of their US leg. Here in the Pacific Northwest, up until the last year or two we hadn’t seen much at all of our beloved Korean bands, but that all seems to be changing. This year alone, Enhypen, ONEUS, TXT, ATEEZ and of course ITZY are all gracing us with a performance.

Speaking of ITZY, the four-member female Korean pop group graced the stage of WAMU theater on Thursday for the first stop of the US leg on their Born to Be world tour. After having seen a few shows in this genre so far this year (including ONEUS at the Moore Theatre that I was lucky enough to cover earlier this year) there were a few interesting differences between the other shows with bands of the same calibur as ITZY. It was surprising they’d chosen a smaller venue like WAMU. It didn’t offer much of an opportunity for VIP tickets and that’s a huge aspect, especially for fans, of any Kpop tour. It gives the band the opportunity to connect with MIDZY (ITZY’s fanbase) and in turn gives stans a sense of connection to their favorite idols. As far as I could tell, the only opportunity for VIP was getting a seat in the first few rows.

While we’re on the subject of seating, typically the floor tickets are for standing only GA (also mainly sold as VIP) but this time was filled with actual seats. It honestly felt really cramped and sadly no real room to dance around without hitting your neighbor in the face with an ITZY light circle or a fan sign. The stage was also just the typical large stage at the front where most bigger Kpop acts have an extended stage out into the seating (think Beyoncé or Taylor Swift) so more fans can experience the show… but that’s also only possible in a bigger venue, so I digress. All of this is to say that I think Seattle is still a pretty new city to Kpop tour stops and they’re using us, being the first stop, as a dress rehearsal of sorts. This will hopefully change along with the number of acts that are coming through and maybe SM, JYP, Hybe and Big Hit (the major Kpop production and management companies) will take the city more seriously and put on bigger shows.

Now on to the actual performance, which I’m sure you’re much more interested in. ITZY had some glorious visuals** going on the huge screens behind them. From my vantage-point I was able to see a bit of the actual band through the sea of raised cell phones (recording and taking photos is a given at these shows) but at least I have a bit of height on my side. With the floor being over 50 rows back, the farther you were the stage the harder it was to see (another downfall of the floor seating/stage setup). I wish they’d had more of the idols up on the screen the entire show but the song-related visuals were really fun too. I really loved that each member had a solo song/setup to themselves. At other shows this year, it was pretty rare that there were less than two members on the stage at any given time and more often it was all of them. This gave each one a chance to connect and show off their personalities whether created for the stage or in reality, to the fans that love them so much.

The hits like Born to Be (of course), CAKE, Gas Me Up, and Sneakers were sprinkled throughout the show. Just as the fans were winding down they’d come out with another favorite and re-energized screams echoed through the venue. Since the performance was without an extended stage and had an unfortunate lack of confetti and pyrotechnics, it made the show feel a little more subdued. The live band did add a nice touch to the typically pre-recorded backing music for shows like this. They were able to acknowledge the performers and play off them in a way that isn’t normally possible at Kpop shows. All in all, it was a mixed bag of great performance, but uncomfortable setting and low-key entertainment that left me feeling conflicted. Either way, if shows like this bring more Korean, Japanese, and Chinese bands to our city then I say bring it on.

** Unfortunately the images I was able to capture on my phone weren’t approved by band management so you’ll have to close your eyes and imagine the lovely foursome in all their glory moving in well-practiced synchronization.