Girls the highlight at HallyuPopFest

Exid's performance did not have a single boring moment.
Exid's performance did not have a single boring moment.PHOTO: H.A.H.ENTERTAINMENT

Among eight acts at last Saturday's concert, the seasoned and popular female acts were the most impressive

HallyuPopFest, a K-pop music festival spread out across three days at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, gathered eight acts at last Saturday's concert alone.

As such, 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, which 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 gave off an eager-to-please vibe which was 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, as well as his wit and humour.

But the highlight of the concert was 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 were 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 & 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.



AOA embracing their image as the sexy girl group through risque and suggestive moves when performing. PHOTO: H.A.H.ENTERTAINMENT

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 were just in town for a solo concert in July, closed the show. The group, which have 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 freely 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 here. Then, fans and security staff clashed over photo-taking activities.



Despite being hugely successful and very talented, the 11-man group Wannaone's performance lacked spontaneity. PHOTO: H.A.H.ENTERTAINMENT

While they are hugely successful and talented, Wanna One's performance lacked spontaneity. At one point during a ballad, the members spread out to designated spots, equidistant from one another 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2018, with the headline 'Girls the highlight at HallyuPopFest'. Print Edition | Subscribe