Monday, May 5, 2014

Gettin' Down In Dongdaemun With The Klive Crew...

Look! It's a big shiny building designed by a prestigious architect! I don't know what it's meant to be, but heavens to Betsy it's shiny and big and filled with sparkly things! Is it an "urban pimple"? Who am I to judge? For I have more important things to talk about! I have seen Klive!

What is Klive? A Korean Clive? A misspelled chive? Some new hand jive? No, it's an all singing, all dancing, brand spanking new K-pop themed hologram theatre where you can pay a wad of cash to see cool, young, spunky, funky kids doing their sexy thing to the latest ditties from the hit parade. But what am I doing here? Aren't I a shabby, bearded, considerably unfashionable ajosshi on the wrong side of thirty five? That may well be true, but I was invited here as part of the K-performance supporter program. They kindly give me a free ticket to see an all dancing digitised K-pop extravaganza and in return I write a little something on my blog to let the world know how I feel about it. Prepare yourselves, dear readers, for here is my review!

Klive takes place just across the road from the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) at Lotte Fitin (head to exit 12 of the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station and hope for the best). It's up on the ninth floor above a host of K-themed shops and stores all trying to part you from the cash in your wallet. Plenty of fashion, plenty of K-pop commodities and a scandalously expensive liquor shop where they try to overcharge for good quality soju. Ignore all these fancies, dear reader, and head straight to the eighth floor, then wander around for a bit looking a little lost until you discover the staircase that leads to Klive.

Once there you'll be confronted by a rather large amount of merchandise with the faces of all sorts of young and pretty people who I assume are in some sort of band, group or barbershop quartet. You can linger amongst the cds, dvds, posters, pamphlets, postcards and novelty pencils or make your way towards the "Giant Tower" - some very large digital screens where you'll have the chance to peruse, select and enlarge the K-pop star of your choice.

After touching your favourite stars you can wend your way to the box office, pick up a ticket (33,000 won for adults, 16,000 won for kids) and then discover even more delights around and about the hologram theatre.

There are "secret windows" to be discovered. Seemingly blank screens that magically reveal their secrets when you look at them through a special filter. What might you see? What wonders may you discover?

I looked through one of the paparazzi's lenses and to my delight, who did I see?

Felicia Day! And someone else who I don't know! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!

Once you tire of the magical delights found within the "secret windows" then you can mosey towards the Klive cafe where they provide a range of hot and cold beverages along with a view of the DDP. If you head a little further though, you'll discover the "Star Lounge" - a slightly secretive looking space where with the press of a button you can summon up a star for a photo...

I managed to get a glimpse of Psy poking a random lady in the cheek whilst holding an invisible bottle of soju.

G-Dragon attempting a complex mime about the love between two swans.

And CL from 2NE1 showing off the dangers of bad posture.

After all that rigmarole it was time for the main event - Klive. Shows are on at 2.00, 4.00, 6.00 and 8.00 every day except Monday and be sure to arrive on time so you can catch all the action. I saw the 6.00 show on a Thursday night, because that's the way I roll.

Things kicked off with some smartly dressed young men who did a little dancing in the lobby, before inviting us into the main hall. As you entered you had the option to take your photo for use in the performance. I pulled my best Gumby impression (though I lacked the requisite hanky on head) and moved into the hall itself.

The photos found their way onto the screens of the hall, though mine unfortunately seemed to have been lost along the way. Slightly saddened by the lack of digital representation I was soon cheered by the house DJ who was playing some K-pop melodies and trying to get the relatively small crowd pumped for the show. There are a few seats at the back, but this is a standing show, so be prepared for a full hour of being on your feet.

Once everyone was in with their features digitised on screen it was time to start the show and for the next forty five minutes or so we were treated to a mixture of live action and hologram. The three smartly dressed young men appeared at various moments to entertain with their dancing skills as well as occasionally acting alongside the holograms themselves. And what a lot of holograms there were!

First off Big Bang took to the stage for renditions of "Bad Boy" and "Fantastic Baby". Their performances were fun, the holographic videos were entertaining and if you squinted a little you might think you were getting the real thing. My main problem with it was the seeming lack of passion from some of the performers. There was far too much frowning and pouting and not enough excitement and energy. G-dragon was his normal charming self, but I have to admit to being disappointed by the lack of charisma from the rest of the group.

Next up were 2NE1 with "I Am The Best" and "Fire". By the time the feisty foursome began the novelty of the holograms had worn off a little and my legs were starting to feel a little weary. The same problem occurred in terms of poutiness and lack of charisma from some of the group and I was getting a little bored.

Fortunately Psy finished off the show with a bang. I'd already seen his holographic performance at Everland, but it remains an enjoyable and energy filled experience. Despite being digitised he was very much alive on that stage and put the other acts to shame with his performance skills. Buoyed by his blasting renditions of Gangnam Style and Gentleman I left the theatre with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and a wish that young performers would understand the benefits of smiling and trying to engage your audience just that little bit more.

I'm well aware that I'm not the target audience for this kind of show and I think that if I was twenty years younger and a fan of Big Bang, 2NE1 or Psy then I think I would have been thrilled at this opportunity. It's a fun concept, but may be better with a large group of people. Our crowd was relatively small and we never seemed to sum up the collective energy to really let loose and fully enjoy the experience. If you're a huge fan of any of these troubadours then chances are you'll have a whale of a time, but tickets are pricey and you're not getting the real concert experience, so lower those expectations, practice your dance moves and make sure to pick up some of G-dragon's one of a kind fake nails on the way out.