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K-Pop Heals New Jersey: Backstage at Bigbang’s ‘Alive’ Finale

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Last December, SPIN traveled to Seoul, South Korea, to begin reporting for Seoul Trained, an extensive magazine feature on K-pop. Our first night was spent at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena where YG Entertainment — home to PSY, 2NE1, BigBang, Tablo, Jinusean, and more — was celebrating their fifteenth birthday with a “Family Concert” showcase. At the time, Big Bang, arguably Korea’s most forward-leaning boy band, hadn’t performed together in months, their leader G-Dragon having become embroiled in a rare marijuana scandal a year earlier. But the mood that night was one of triumph, BigBang (and G-Dragon in particular) both humbled by the warm reception and contrite in their apologies. And nearly a year later, after both the surprise success of PSY, and the launch of their Alive Tour, in support of their new full-length of the same name, they arrived as headliners in the United States with something they hadn’t quite rediscovered the last time we saw them: swagger.

On Friday night in Hurricane Sandy-ravaged New Jersey, we sat down with all five members before they stepped out in front of a sold-out crowd at Prudential Arena for the second night of a two-stand. “We are curious to know what you will think of the show,” T.O.P. told us. “I think you will see the ‘BigBang color.'” We did. Emerging from cryogenic chambers just after eight, the fivesome proceeded to sprint through two hours of hits and costume changes, through a set that included studded, leather-upholstered Segways, artificial snow, and ample attention to each member’s solo work. G-Dragon — the group’s creative core and a guy whom bandmate Seungri deemed “a genius” and personal hero twice between songs — was particularly impressive when on his own, further embracing his semi-adopted stance as Korea’s Kanye West by taking on a bit of West’s vocal grain when performing (that and a pair of his Air Yeezy 2 sneakers) cuts from his recently released One of a Kind EP. Catch some glimpses of the action that night as well as some insights from the band on both PSY, Kanye and new band favorite, Miguel.

“I try to stay young,” says T.O.P, pictured above. “We try to get ahead of fashion trends. Whenever we feel the urge to create, we do it right away. We don’t hesitate, we’re not afraid to try new things. But all of our personalities are different, so when we put them all together, we come up with something fresh.”

Seungri.
“Americans might not understand, but within Korea,” says G-Dragon, “Big Bang was one of the first artists to make their own production. We have our own interpretation of our own songs. We do our own thing.”

“This tour started before PSY became famous,” says Taeyang. “We’re proud of him and very happy for him. PSY let know more people know about Korean culture and Korean music. But other than that, those same people who have an interest in Big Bang — in our music, in our style, in our music videos — they’re coming to see us.”

“We’re supporting each other,” G-Dragon says of PSY. “It’s not that we feel pressure because of his success. We’re completely different. We encourage each other.”

“We’re excited to shop around New York. It’s been a long time since we’ve had some time off.”

Members of the Big Bang fan group, VIPs.

T.O.P.
“I don’t think he gets any sleep,” says G-Dragon of Kanye West.

“We prayed for you,” the group said to the audience between songs later in the set. They suggested that Hurricane Sandy threatened to cancel both of these shows.

“We’re constantly listening to music,” Taeyang says. “From top pop stars to underground artists.”

Cruel Summeris pretty nice,” Taeyang says, of their favorite records this year. “We also like Miguel. He’s great.”

source: bigbangupdates

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