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Block B Wrap Up Ambitious Blockbuster Tour With Riveting Performance In Los Angeles

By Estar Park | November 23, 2015 03:04 PM EST


Block B graced American fans with their first full solo concert in the states, hitting San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Fans dressed in yellow and black, sporting bumblebee antenna headbands and clutching honeycomb lightsticks streamed into Club Nokia, the Los Angeles venue, ready for a night of musical misbehavior on the last night of Block B's Blockbuster Tour.

Following the "blockbuster" theme, Block B mixed various cinematic visuals into their video opening, with Zico roaring as the MGM lion and Taeil posing as the Columbia Pictures torch lady. A gorgeously shot introduction video of the members dressed in tuxedos and working as a stage production crew, clapping slates, positioning boom mics, hinted that they work hard on stage and even harder behind the scenes.

The onstage video screens, fashioned to look like a giant mouth grinning, started to laugh maniacally, splitting in half horizontally to reveal the members dressed in black and white-striped ensembles, resembling prison jumpsuits and mime costumes. They barreled straight into a high energy set of "Very Good," "Freeze," and "Halo," with one too many people on stage. A masked dancer had seamlessly taken Jaehyo's place in the choreography, while the real Jaehyo, nursing an injury, was seated off to one side of the stage.

All too quickly, the group ran off stage. At this point in the performance, an interlude video played, during which the stage was reset and the group changed costumes.

Interlude videos throughout the show tried to keep the energy going during breaks and were often little featurettes which revealed behind the scenes band moments.

Block B's first interlude video was lit like a horror movie in red, with extreme close ups of the members' faces, looking crazed and decidedly uncute. "You guys want the villains with skills, right? We're not monsters. We're just one step further out from this generation."

Red light flooded the stage and illumined a torch-lit castle on screen, but the romantic intro music segued into the theme from The Phantom of the Opera, adding a slightly ominous undertone to the next set. Bearing red roses, the boys sang "Romantically" and "Extraordinary Girl." The tempo of the songs was slightly accelerated and tweaked with a duwop feel, into which main vocalist Taeil inserted some scatting and extra vocal riffs. It was unfortunate that his mic wasn't turned up enough to hear well over the extremely loud backing track, and that many of the backing vocals were pre-recorded. A couple of times, it seemed evident that the boys were lip syncing the non-rap portions of their songs. They did begin to interact with the audience in the pit, making eye contact, waving, and throwing their roses into the crowd.

"Hello, do you wanna be, Block B!" Block B greeted the screaming fans. Zico bravely attempted the most English, though all of the members contributed snippets that were obviously prepared in advance. P.O., in his hilariously un-suave self-introduction, haltingly squeezed out, "Hello...Los Angeles...I love you...P.O."

Continuing in the romantic vein, but quickly losing momentum, they performed "11:30" and "Did You Or Didn't You?" Dancer U-Kwon stole the spotlight with his constant dougies, backed by B-Bomb, who was looking a little like Super Junior's Siwon, with his dapper suspenders and pomaded hairstyle. This part of the set was the nadir of the concert, as the choreography was a little lackluster and the songs low energy. It seemed like a missed opportunity to ditch the dancing and indulge in some audience connection and fan service.

The next interlude video was a Star Wars-styled text message, contrasting heroes and villains: "Villain makes efforts to reach dreams. Hero gets discouraged easily. Villain believes in organized action. Hero acts alone. Villain laughs well. Hero gets upset easily. I'M YOUR VILLAIN."

Dressed in club outfits in black and wearing natty ties, various members appeared to perform some sub-unit and solo work, including "No Joke," "Conduct Zero," and "Okey Dokey." Eliciting by far the loudest audience reaction and audience engagement, Zico's solo and Bastarz's performance finally looked truly authentic, feeling less like they showed up to work and more like they came to party. They amped up the bad boy vibe, which was finally more in line with the "I'M YOUR VILLAIN" trope they had been trumpeting, reinforcing it with choreo that had them prowling up to the edge of the stage in a flirtatious and slightly predatory way. Zico was especially animated, resembling a lunatic circus maestro, in his red sweater, bouncing wildly around the stage as he spat verses with speed and fluency.

The jackpot animation video and brief Block B interview clip from the "Her" music video, together with their costume change into red, black, and white outfits that were similar to the outfits they wore to KCON LA 2015, felt oddly dated after just hearing the more recent tracks in their repertoire, but "Her" and "Jackpot" are the best encapsulations of their oddball musical style. The audience, unsurprisingly, responded by dancing along with their signature bow-legged choreo with great vigor.

The high didn't last very long, with another strange downturn in their performance of "Mental Breaker" and "Action." It felt like being served a palate cleanser of roughage, rather than something refreshing. The mood started to lighten when the confetti cannons went off, at which the boys started dancing with each other and spraying water on the fans, generally having a good time.

"Shall we stay up night?" Zico asked the crowd, trying to introduce the finale song. "Yeah, yeah, up all night!" P.O. interrupted. "This is our last song," Zico continued, the audience laughing as P.O. dramatically yelled, "Nooooooo!" then turned around to start tickling Taeil, who giggled as he tried to evade P.O.'s attentions. Attempting to keep some gravitas, Zico thanked the audience for coming to "the first Blockbuster concert in LA," before the group launched into their Big Bang-esque pop track, "Be The Light."

The ending video was a montage of iconic cinematic villains, their catchphrases and film scores: Terminator, the Stay-puff Marshmallow Man, Davy Jones, Jigsaw, Darth Vader, Phantom of the Opera, Edward Scissorhands, Heath Ledger's the Joker to the final screen:

"Throw the moderate thoughts away, stupid." - Block B

They burst back on stage, taking off their jackets and getting comfortable, to perform "Nalina," "Nice Day," and "Very Good (Rough version)," with a stunning screen animation of dancing King Kongs. Regrettably missing was "Nillili Mambo" from this otherwise rousing encore set. Taeil apparently had confused the order of events, remaining on stage and saying into his mic, "No picture?" before rushing off stage.

After a credits video that revealed the immense amount of work and staff that were needed to produce the Blockbuster tour, Block B sang one more song, "Movie's Over," throwing more confetti on each other before posing for a group picture with the audience in the background.

With several members being active participants in the underground hip-hop scene, Block B's better onstage moments were their club bangers, in which they take a more leisurely, swaggering approach to their choreo, rather than the tight, intricate synchronicity that is more the norm for K-pop male groups.

In the inevitable comparison to BTS, the last hip hop-tinged idol group to perform at Club Nokia, Block B drew a noticeably older crowd, which may have led to their decision to dial down the cutesy fan service. The misstep was in not leveraging more of their mature performing charisma, highly visible in their solo and sub-unit tracks, but not in their older songs.

The whole concert was also plagued by technical difficulties, from the split screens getting stuck in place, causing the beginning of the concert to be delayed, to individual mic levels mismatching the overall volume. Taeil, an accomplished vocalist, missed too many of his star moments because his mic just wasn't loud enough.

Block B has had a contentious history as a group, emerging from past scandals and legal battles bruised, but no less ready to throw down. A band of "4D personalities" who don't quite fit the idol mold, they put on a show themed around iconic movies, quite apropos especially in Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood.

The tour was "Blockbuster," but with a traditional Block B twist: instead of highlighting heroes, they specifically spotlighted infamous movie villains. However, whether it was due to their whirlwind U.S. tour schedule, or a waning of interest in their older material combined with not having promoted as a group for a while, they never fully succeeded at infusing their entire show with the bizarre, off-putting, infectious energy their music videos are notorious for possessing. The bad boys would show up with a delicious WDGAF attitude in flashes, but not enough to satisfy. Frankly, there just needed to be more villainy in these self-proclaimed villains.

Tagged :  Block B, Los Angeles, concert


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