SINGAPORE - HallyuPopFest, a K-pop music festival spread out across three days at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, gathered eight acts for the Saturday night (Sept 8) concert alone.
This was why the concert, instead of having a cohesive, overriding concept, was a series of mini-stages for each act.
The second night of the festival, which I attended, was particularly high-energy with all the acts wanting to impress with their dance moves.
Younger and less well-known groups like ONF and Snuper, who were both performing in Singapore for the first time, opened the show.
ONF (pronounced on and off), a rookie septet that debuted last year, and Snuper both belted out four uptempo songs while dancing perfectly in-sync. They both gave off an eager-to-please vibe which actually came off quite endearing but their songs were not particularly memorable.
Eric Nam, who was also the emcee for the event, was probably the most comfortable as he was fluent in English. Nam, who was born in the United States, cracked jokes and amped up the crowd effortlessly with both his spoken and singing voice, and his natural wit and humour.
But the true highlight of the concert were the women. Saturday's concert featured seasoned and popular female acts - girl groups AOA, Exid and soloist Soyou, formerly of Sistar, which broke up last year.
Although it was a tough fight among the three, Exid was my favourite act of the night. It was their first time performing as a complete group of five in almost two years - member Solji pulled out of performances and promotions in December 2016 due to a serious thyroid disease - but they showed no signs of ever being a member down.
The group, with their lively, bold personalities, also had the edge of a truly solid rapper in LE. They confidently busted out their signature gyrating moves with Up and Down and Ah Yeah and did not have one boring moment in their performance.
AOA, meanwhile, leaned into and played up their image as the sexy girl group. Few groups are as blatantly seductive and girly as AOA with their risque and suggestive moves in songs like Heart Attack and Miniskirt, which they performed.
Soyou, on the other hand, showcased her range as a competent vocalist.
Although the sound system made her high notes sound almost jarring during certain songs, I enjoyed myself when she sang one of the rare, slow ballads of the night - I Miss You - part of the soundtrack to the hit drama Goblin. She also showcased her range as an artist by breaking out her former group, Sistar's dance numbers.
Wanna One, an 11-man group that was just in town for a solo concert in July, closed the show. The group, which has an ardent fanbase and attracted the loudest screams of the night, entertained with their high-energy and recognisable dance numbers. Fans snapped numerous videos and photos of the group as there was no decree that photos and videos on mobile phones were not allowed, a marked departure from the last time Wanna One performed. Then, fans and security staff clashed over photo-taking activities.
While they are hugely successful and very talented, Wanna One's performance lacked spontaneity - at one point during a ballad, the members spread out to designated spots, equidistant from each other, and barely moved away. The overtly rehearsed feel of Wanna One made them seem less relaxed and less interesting than they could be.
Overall, the three-hour concert had a great line-up. There were strong and high-energy performers in both groups and soloists, with a healthy mix of newer songs and well-known hits.
Although I couldn't help but feel that since each group, regardless of popularity, performed for less than 45 minutes, it would take a multi-fandom K-pop enthusiast to truly enjoy the concert.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.