Playing a two hour sold-out show, reaching every high note and hitting every step in the choreography while still being all smiles with the crowd seems like something only pop stars of the past were able to do. But last Friday at the Microsoft Theatre, the male group Monsta X proved why they’re power players in the K-pop game.
Los Angeles has become a set location for K-pop concerts over the years. This summer alone is hosting multiple acts, including Eric Nam, GOT7, and Up10tion, and the Hallyu convention KCON happening this weekend. Coming back to the city after a year since their last show, the seven member outfit treated their fans, called Monbebe, to a night dedicated to showing just how much they appreciate them.
Decked out in glittering white suits, Monsta X started out their last U.S. stop in The Connect world tour in full force. Opening with their EDM bangers “Jealousy,” “Be Quiet,” and “Beautiful,” the show seemed more like the Hard Festival than a K-pop show at first. But true to their concept and music, the night was divided into all the aspects that make Monsta X unique: an energetic yet sexy hip-hop, R&B, and EDM hybrid. Sounds like a lot, but the group makes it work.
The septet changed the mood a few times, with the “sexy” portion of the show comprising of the ballad “Gravity,” where the members showcased their vocals chops, and the body roll inducing mid-tempo R&B jam “Tropical Night.” Towards the end of the show, the group took their fans on a throwback with what rapper I.M called “Monsta X’s color,” which is their hip-hop origins with “Rush,” “Special,” and their debut single “Trespass.”
A rare concept for boy bands these days, Monsta X have truly kept sexy alive. Sure, fans enjoyed when Wonho took his T-shirt off at the end, but the group’s true sultriness is all in their demeanor and how they carry themselves on stage. It was perfectly embodied in their song “All In,” when they turn away from the crowd, slowly rolling their shoulders and hips. It’s subtle, but it still makes the fans swoon.
In K-pop, “fan service” refers to when an artist does different actions like acting cute or dancing sexily just for the fans’ enjoyment. The Connect in LA, while it had all the components for an amazing show like the live vocals, intricate lighting, and powerful choreographies, it was also one big homage to Monbebe.
First off, Wonho, Shownu, I.M, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Jooheon, and Minhyuk all did their best to communicate in English, though the omnipresent voice of a translator could be heard from time to time when the members spoke Korean. I.M did the “In My Feelings” challenge while the audience sang the song and Jooheon beatboxed “Mi Gente.” They also jokingly called it the “show’s climax” when they took off their jackets, revealing their fitting and sheer shirts.
For their special unit stages, Minhyuk and Kihyun teamed up with Wonho for the cute performance of “I Do You,” produced by the last. Shownu and Jooheon made more than a few fans sweat with their rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Versace On the Floor,” with the latter writing his own rap verses but also giving us some stellar vocals. Finally, Hyungwon and I.M did a sultrier, slower version of “Fake Love” by Drake, featuring I.M’s own rap verses where he shouted out “Monbebe, that’s my lover’s name.” They also did a dance performance of Charlie Puth’s “How Long,” which Hyungwon choreographed.
With a hectic tour schedule, jetlag, and singing and dancing at the same time with hot lights on you, missteps are understandable. However, there were no signs of that. Monsta X powered through their performances, hyped up and even having fun among themselves and with the crowd, as if they weren’t on their 15th show since the tour began in late May in Seoul, South Korea. They were playful through the Wonho-produced “From Zero” and “Roller Coaster.”
One of the highlights of the night was undeniably the power ballad “Lost in the Dream” and the sweet tune “White Love.” Kihyun blew everyone away with his mighty vocals on the chorus of the first, and the latter had an acapella moment at the end which the fans joined them in singing.
The Connect in Los Angeles was truly a testament to what Monsta X brings to the table. Not only are they ride or dies for their fans, but they also have the talent, skills, and even stamina to become one of the K-pop greats. Friday’s show proved that they probably already are.
“If we feel the same, [and have] the same emotions, the same feelings, whatever you are, like skin color, language, where you’re from, it doesn’t matter. We don’t really care. If we [have] the same feeling right now, we are connected. You and I. Monsta X and Monbebe,” I.M said during the group’s final talk, which garnered loud cheers from the crowd. “You know, forever is a hard thing, but I really want this relationship to be forever.”
The night concluded with an argument with the audience about who loved who the most (“No! We love YOU!” the members shouted back when the fans started a “We love you” chant), the tender track “If Only,” and a promise from I.M that they’d work up to one day performing their own solo show at the Staples Center.