The universal language of music seems to be pumping in neon lights displayed across the 2,750 seats in the auditorium of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, GA Friday night, a truly electrifying moment. The patrons standing on their feet are eagerly awaiting their favorite band to start the show. Only a few moments later the room is filled with eruptions of screams and enthusiasm from those who call themselves die-hard fans also known as iGOT7’s. This explosive energy that exudes from every fan, is met equally by exuberant performers. GOT7.
An internationally acclaimed Korean pop band that this sea of loyal followers admire from a very short distance from their seats to the performance stage. Language barriers? None.
No one would suspect this show is put on by South Korean artists who sing, rap and speak in a multitude of languages as the members’ hail from homes that consist of South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and America. This unique component may be the reason for their enormous popularity. The appeal, global. With seven members who make up this highly successful group, they embark to take on their first US concert tour.
Mark, JB, Jackson, Youngjae, Yugyeom, Junior and BamBam stand in the auditorium welcoming the abundance of love and support from their Atlanta fans who have dedicated their time, often travelling by car, bus and plane to support their favorite member or as I learned throughout the night, “bias,” performing on the US stages in Dallas, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and ending with a two night sold out show in Los Angeles.
The repertoire for their Fly in USA tour set list includes fan favorites from both old and current albums such as “Put Them Up,” “Turn Up The Music,” “Back To Me,” “Playground,” “I Like You,” “Just Right,” “Confession Song,” and from their current album “Fly,” “See the Light,” “Can’t,” and “Rewind” just to name the first half of the show. There are also a plethora of special moments scattered through the two and a half hours where audience members are given the opportunity to see highlighted talents from members who select songs that have been written, arranged and choreographed brilliantly to suit their individual talents and personalities that only concert goers are privy to.
Incredible displays of fan interactions are plentiful throughout the show. Whether GOT7 takes phones from their audience to film footage so that their guests leave with a unique souvenir, high-fiving those close enough in the pit, or involving the audience in their special “GOT7 Roulette Spins” game where the camera is turned to challenge fans to prove what they have by dancing along to their songs. GOT7 has tactfully figured out a formula to make the hearts of their fans overflowing. And for those who have purchased tickets in specific price brackets, the group invites them to takes photos to create a memorable moment. For others, they have the opportunity to participate in the “Hi-Touch” event at the end of the show which involves a walk through as the band lines up and gives them a token of appreciation with a high five. This group exemplifies gratitude to their loyal following and does not shy from expressing it both on and off stage.
I had the privilege of speaking to a few members of GOT7GROUPIES, a twitter account run by fans who have collectively gathered to make great efforts in helping promote GOT7’s music and talent to others who may otherwise have difficulties in accessing information in the United States.
Their talent “speaks for themselves” says Kiara explaining that, “fans work together without any benefits or [incentives] to claim, just for the pure love of the group…We take part [proudly] to help the Korean sales exponentially grow to see those numbers and music charts climb by ordering albums and merchandise overseas and having them shipped here.”
When asked what makes GOT7 so unique out of the many Korean Pop or Kpop artists that try their success in America, 23 year old Carolina states,
“Their personalities come through and make it known, demanding a presence.” Adding that in being involved in the GOT7 fandom, she has been able to pursue her dreams by building foundation and growing her knowledge of promotional assets, and developing skills to further her interests in a career path in the entertainment industry. Her dedication is similar to those who live, breathe, speak and share all things GOT7, often involving taking a ten hour drive to attend the concert and waiting at the airport for a glimpse of her favorite, like Alex who shares her passion.
“How they act with each other is something that is [often] times hard to find in groups. What they have in their friendship is something I want in life and gives me hope to find people as good as [GOT7] even if it means waiting awhile.”
Not only does the band bring an intrinsic level of joy to the American fans who can sing along to the Korean lyrics effortlessly, they have found inspiration, new perspectives to life and happiness through this band such as seeing the world through a diverse looking glass. Kiara has been able to become open to different cultures and languages by teaching herself about the culture through Korean soap operas and videos. While others go to extremes in trying to attend GOT7’s first US tour like Jean who pulled funds from her savings for college tuition. Alex reveals, “…it has helped me see that even though the language is different and people may find it weird that I listen to non-English music, I am able to find myself and become who I truly want to be…” a gift that many iGOT7’s would whole heartedly agree with.
An overwhelming response to the continually growing fan base is unanimous. Sabrina and Nicole both share that the camaraderie among fans worldwide has been a positive one, often welcoming and always there to lend a hand when in need. Through this experience many iGOT7’s have made beautiful friendships across the world.
Whether it be begging parents for two months to purchase a ticket for the show as Christina did or Kathryn who learned more about her heritage and in turn able to understand and relate to her family, we can be certain about one thing:
The influence of Korean pop culture has never been more prevalent, “…from fashion, makeup, food, movies, and music.” -Maryanne
GOT7 fans simply sum up why they love the band so much: “because they are who they are.”
Fans and attendees alike would be thrilled to know that they will leave a GOT7 concert energized, enthusiastic, and reaping benefits every fan dreams of when they see their favorite band play live. GOT7 did everything their American fans wanted and more: they sang, danced, and most importantly entertained while having the time of their lives on stage and to everyone’s content, leaving the thousands of girls waiting outside the venue for a final glimpse through those tinted windows of the van that carried them away until promised, next time to meet again. I suspect that that the creative freedom of GOT7’s future to express themselves through writing and producing will only become more and more frequent with their growing fan base.
A bright future ahead, and one to look out for in both the Eastern and Western countries is the South Korean Kpop band that I can easily predict to show up on the US airwaves, GOT7.