Hi there – for ease and for your own relevance I’ve split my write up to 3 sections:
– Concert Fan Account
– Review and thoughts
<Concert Fan Account>
So I had the VIP GA Standing ticket – which was speculated to not be sectioned off from the rest of GA standing (which turned out to be the case), and I was unsure of how many people actually bought VIP and how many people would be lining up.
VIP ticket holders were to be let in to the venue at 4:15pm with arena doors to open around 5 followed by the soundcheck experience with the actual concert show to start at 7. I contemplated lining up from midnight the night before but decided I wanted to be well rested for the concert and line up at 8am.
Never underestimate G-Dragon / Big Bang / K-pop fans, I actually snoozed my alarm and ended up getting to the venue about 9:20am – to be 140th (according to the number that was written on my upon my arrival) in line!
It’s always a little difficult with concerts like these, fans take it upon themselves to try and organise the chaos, this number system is apparently commonly used, however it did create some frustration between fans as people argued about who was there earlier, how about people who got a number and have left for an extended period of time, and people who had cut in forward and refused to move.
By the way – security has no obligation to help fans adhere to this number system as it’s all unofficial, but big shout outs to the security who were clearly a little overwhelmed at the amount of people in line. They did their best to answer questions, they announced where the bathrooms were and directed people to the correct lines as best they could.
Also big ups to the guy wearing a Melbourne High Soul Power jumper who took it upon himself to get the Non-VIP GA line organised while remaining cool, calm and collected.
I lined up by myself but luckily the people in front of me were SUPER nice, I was basically able to talk to them the whole time and they even fed me lots of food. People also spoke to me because I was carrying a giant cardboard cutout of G-Dragon’s head.
While lining up people were in high spirits, at one point we played this smartphone charades type of game, with Big Bang / G-Dragon songs – where someone holds the phone on their forehead and people have to act out or try to get the person to guess the song without saying the song title.
Many hours passed, but finally we were about to go in! Over the PA system they announced that VIP Check in was about to begin, so everyone started making sure they threw out their rubbish, get their affairs in order. There was real determination by those who started the number system to convince people to stick to it – but majority of the crowd was in every man/woman for themselves mode.
So as they started letting people in it was pretty rough, the line pushed forward quite aggressively and security/venue staff would withhold people from entering if the line pushed. This continued even inside the venue’s foyer, with the venue manager yelling at everyone and telling people to back up, they eventually organised the line by snaking it around – but the huge shove to get wristbands for the GA area was actually quite dangerous and after they unravelled the congested spot it was easy to see that someone could have seriously gotten hurt.
The VIP Gift for the Melbourne Concert was a black beanie that had the tour logo on it! Probably the best VIP gift in the Australia tour (Sydney got socks, and Brisbane got sweatbands I believe)
To try and control the crowd the venue staff basically threatened to kick out people without refund if anyone pushes violently or aggressively. The Venue Manager led the crowd in, saying that everyone must stay behind in and no one can go in front of him, as he walked from one corner of the front to the other.
My friend and I initially settled in a spot on the left with about 3 rows of people in front of us, but I got her to stay there while I quickly checked the other side, and was able to get a good spot on the right of the centre with only 1 row of people in front of us! The people around us were generally quite good and a lot of people loved the G-Dragon head cut out.
First the band came in, to loud applause – as they took their positions. Then finally, the song Super Star starts, and G-Dragon walks on stage calmly singing along. It is a soundcheck so I never expect the artist to go all out for it – but G-Dragon does a great job of being entertaining to watch while still conserving his energy for the real performance.
For soundcheck he performed 3 songs from the Kwon Ji Yong EP, and it was just great to finally see Jiyong in person again (last he was in Australia was for BIGBANG’s 2015 MADE tour).
After soundcheck, the arena opened up for all the non-VIP GA and seated tickets, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hisense Arena was basically full! (Though this was likely thanks to the $99 all tickets except VIP sale they did).
During this time they played GD’s music videos, and it was great to be around such a fanatic crowd, singing along, screaming and basically fangirling fanboying to all the little things in the MVs (personal favourite of mine is G-Dragon’s flower jacket in the Breathe music video)
Then finally – the show started with ACT I: G-Dragon, opening with Heartbreaker!
So basically the concept of the concert is GD/Jiyong showing himself as G-Dragon and progressing towards unravelling himself: Kwon Ji Yong, the songs in each act reflect this.
Included in ACT I are two songs I never thought I’d ever get to hear live – ‘But I Love U’ and ‘Obsession’, 2 of my all time favourite G-Dragon songs
Then came ACT II: G-Dragon vs Kwon Ji Yong.
Where he started with his intense/striking G-Dragon image by performing songs such as MichiGO and R.O.D, then singing softer songs such as That XX and Black.
This part of the concert is great as we really could see the many sides of G-Dragon and Kwon Ji Yong. During his performance of Missing You, GD came up to the corner of the stage closest to us, and started looking over the crowd, so this was my chance to hold up my G-Dragon head! My friend was recording it – and I’ve included a clip in my experience video, but we’re 99% sure he definitely saw it and reacted!
After this Act a video started featuring friends and family of GD, asking them the questions:
Who is G-Dragon to you?
Who is Kwon Ji Yong to you?
It was great seeing not just YG stars, but non-music industry friends as well as celebrities like Hyeongdon from variety shows such as Weekly Idol (he and GD have a very funny public friendship – you should check out clips of GD as a guest on shows he’s on, they’re great!)
I’m not 100% sure, but I think after this was the monologue video, which showed G-Dragon speaking very openly and candidly about himself, how people see him, how he thinks people see him or want to see him. It was a very touching video and it really added some sincerity to the show, especially with the show’s concept.
After this video is the start of ACT III: Kwon Ji Yong.
This act is comprised of all the songs from the Kwon Ji Yong EP except for Untitled, 2014. This act was him expressing himself not as the star G-Dragon, but as himself, Kwon Ji Yong. Before the last song of the set he spoke to the audience with fluent English. He spoke about how thankful he was for all the support we the fans have given him, and spoke about how for the first time he is front of the world stage not as G-Dragon but as himself, Kwon Ji Yong. He also said “I love you too” to a lucky fan who yelled “I LOVE YOU” at him during this!
He then ended the concert with Divina Commedia.
After a little time, the encore began, and the crowd erupted to the first few synth sounds of Crooked. This stage was LIT. So much energy and fun, he ran around basically being at the far right and the far left for a lot of the performance. He rapped and sang the second verse right in front of us on the right!
Crooked ended with HUGE confetti blasts, we basically couldn’t see him amongst the mayhem, but it looked fantastic (I’ve included a clip of this in my experience video!)
After Crooked he introduced the band, dancers and does shoutouts to many people including BIGBANG – He then, very cutely, thanks the crowd and kept pointing at people saying “you, you, you”
The FINAL encore, he sings his latest title track: Untitled, 2014. But does this by walking by the front rail so everyone at the front gets to be VERY close to him, including eventually us!
Some highlight interactions:
He accepted a rose from these fans who’ve followed him for the whole Australia leg of the tour and have been at the front every time.
He poses for a selfie with a fan
He also made some pretty intense eye contact with a lot of fans!
After his final exit, the credit video rolled and we headed out. Outside the venue quite a few people asked to take a photo with my cardboard cut-out and of course I had no issue with that!
This concert could never be bad to me, the whole concept of G-Dragon/Jiyong wanting to breakdown the G-Dragon persona and reveal himself as Kwon Ji Yong is quite beautiful and he was able to perform such an exciting and entertaining show, while it was a big piece of creative expression.
The setlist was so well curated for the journey he took us on, opening with Heartbreaker (his solo debut post-Big Bang debut) and closing the whole show with Untitled really got us to see how he’s changed and the difference and duality of G-Dragon and Kwon Ji Yong.
The only thing is I wish “This Love” was in the setlist, this song was his solo song for Big Bang’s debut and it has a lot of sentimental value for his fans – but oh well, I still loved the setlist.
As a performer he did not disappoint and he is able to be really engaging to watch. It’s also great that he’s able to speak to the audience in fluent English, so fans can really feel that connection with him when he addresses them.
Unfortunately the tour did not sell that well – with all Australia stops basically having a clearance sale of $99 for any ticket (non-VIP). I wouldn’t say this is reflective of G-Dragon’s popularity, and a lot of people made the comparison with BIGBANG which was able to sell out a Sydney and Melbourne show with no problem.
The thing is – while a lot of people who went to BIGBANG did still follow them, there were definitely a lot of people I knew who went to BIGBANG’s concert because they used to listen to them rather than that they still did. To these people their K-Pop phase had ended and they very much were going because the band was a mustsee for them once upon a time.
It’s hard for these same people to justify spending so much to see G-Dragon this year, and it really shows after Melb’s concert was basically full house because of the sale. People wanted to see GD but couldn’t justify the expensive ticket price.
I don’t think this will impact the amount of K-Pop tours we’ll have in Australia, however promoters will likely be more cautious when booking acts (I highly doubt we will get Taeyang’s White Night tour..)
No matter what, GD/Jiyong put on a fantastic show and the end of the concert felt like saying “see you soon” to an old friend.
Thanks for everything GD 🙂
Some background, I first got into K-Pop in 2008, a friend had “Haru Haru – Big Bang ” as their tagline on MSN Messenger (That’s how you know it was a long time ago), and at the time I liked their best friend, so of course silly 14 year old me thought, hey I should check this out! (Turns out the girl didn’t even follow k-pop haha)
I was instantly hooked. Until then I listened to western music and J-Pop idol groups like AKB48, NewS and songs from Animes, and Big Bang’s Haru Haru M/V – with it’s over the top drama story and intense acting crossed with lip syncing, thus started my first dive into this very deep rabbit hole of K-Pop.
Big Bang was always going to be my favourite band, and just as quickly, I became obsessed with G-Dragon. The way he presents himself, his work ethic for the band, his music and his life. With no hyperbole, until today I’ve idolised him.
K-Pop was and is still very much a niche in Australia – it’s got its fanatic fan base / stans, and while there may seem to be many of us I never thought we’d get K-Pop concerts in Australia, let alone Big Bang, and even more unlikely to me, a G-Dragon solo concert.
This concert allowed me to see GD perform so many songs live that I just assumed I would never get to see, and I’m so glad it happened!