OAKLAND — Since the beginning of boy bands, fans have demanded more than just music from their heroes. Details like the impression of a relationship and what each member likes to do or even eat have been just as important. That’s never changed from New Kids on the Block to the Backstreet Boys and now (in a time when K-Pop is more popular than ever) to groups like GOT7, who packed the lower bowl of Oracle Arena on their first arena tour in the U.S.
GOT7 took full advantage of the opportunity to introduce all seven members during lengthy dialogue segments at its nearly three-hour concert. Taking the stage right at 7:30 p.m.—without an opener and with most seats filled—Im Jae Bum (JB), Mark Yi En Tuan, Jackson Wang, Park Jin Young (Jinyoung), Choi Young Jae (Youngjae), Kunpimook Bhuwakul Bambam (BamBam) and Kim Yu Gyeom (Yugyeom) exchanged stage banter and addressed the crowd for up to 10 minutes at a time during designated set breaks. Video interludes filled in the gaps. Although their English wasn’t always easy to follow, nor was the language-hopping (members speak Korean and Japanese and even sing in Spanish), a new fan could quickly decipher the individual quirks of each member and pick a favorite.
Even before the group took the stage, the audience—mostly young and female, and their parents—made their presence known, waving green luminescent torches and screaming every time their favorite member appeared on the walk of LED screens that more or less covered one end of the arena behind the stage. After a lengthy and apocalyptic introductory video (the band members later explained how the show was broken up into a dark half followed by a light half), the group took the stage in sparkly black jackets. They kicked things off with bangers “Eclipse,” “Out” and “Never Ever,” by which point a handful of dancers joined the group onstage.
“It’s our first time in Oakland. I know you guys have been waiting for so long,” Jackson Wang said to massive screams during the first aside, before the group went down the line, introducing themselves.
A couple of the members mentioned they were excited to play at the home of the Golden State Warriors. Well, not quite. The members also talked about their last visit to the Bay Area, four years earlier. Though judging by a poll, most in the crowd was seeing GOT7 for the first time. Following introductions from left to right, the group members went the opposite direction to answer the question, “How are you doing today?”
Once the performance started up again, GOT7 presented a mix of genres on “Skyway,” with deep bass drops and rapped lines alongside poppy vocals. Soon after, JB and Youngjae took turns with solo performances, dancers in tow, while the others made their way to a large secondary stage in the middle of the floor connected by a wide walkway. Jackson Wang, Mark Yi En Tuan and BamBam, the three non-Korean members of the group, performed a medley of songs, followed by a dance-off between two other members. The performance was so carefully choreographed despite having seven members in various parts of the room; no second seemed wasted.
The group reconvened on the main stage to talk about their inspirations for the tour and how it consisted of dark and light halves.
“We need you to help us find the light,” one of the members said.
For the power ballad “Sign,” the group walked to the B stage, pacing around the perimeter and singing to fans. That song led into “I Am Me,” a softer synth-led ballad that included both dance parts and a slower singalong section. A video interlude followed, showing GOT7 members walking up in a tunnel that looked a lot like one of the older Caldecott bores. In the video, the members got body-scanned by red lasers and soon found themselves in a room with falling items, china dishes shattering around them.
Back in real time, the band returned following a costume change to blue jeans and white shirts.
“We finally found the light,” Youngjae said.
One of the show’s highlights include the soulful “Come On” and the glitchy, bright “Just Right,” which had both rapped lines and lines sung in Spanish. The following “Paradise” was a summery dance jam like the kind Mark Ronson has been writing for a few years. That went into ballad “Thank You,” with the group starting out in a line with mics at the lip of the stage before walking and finishing at the B stage; banger “Save You” and mid-tempo R&B number “Teenager” followed. Fans loudly sang along to the “I think I love you” line on “Page.”
After the next video interlude, GOT7 performed another handful of songs including the trip-hop-influenced “Lullaby” and banger “Hard Carry,” which sounded an awful lot like “Turn Down for What.” The final segment of the show was a bit weighed down by an extended video of the group members lounging around the house they share, playing games and cooking—it felt a bit like “Big Brother”—and extended goodbyes. Each member had something to say to the crowd along the lines of, “Do you promise to come back when we do?” and “We love Oakland!”
Mark Yi En Tuan explained how the name of the tour, “Keep Spinning,” was meant to remind fans to keep their heads up during dark times.
“Hopefully through the seven of us, you guys can find your light, too,” he said. Wang, meanwhile used his podium time to suggest the three-hour show was too short, and that GOT7 should shoot for six hours next time around.
Following the speeches, the group cranked up the volume with one last batch of party-starting songs like “Fly” and “Go Higher,” during which they walked around collecting gifts (signs, flags and inflatable toys) from fans and then drenched everyone close enough with water, leaving the stage looking like the morning after a kegger.
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.