Shinee kicks off the SMTown Week through “The Wizard” concert at Kintex.
Korea has many unique holiday traditions to experience during the winter season. However, one of the most unique comes from a surprising sector ? the music industry. During the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s most artists hold special winter concerts, either individually or with the other artists signed to the same label. Done as a kind of “fan service” (the term used for K-artists giving back to their fans for showing them support), these concerts are usually very different from the normal tour, with their own themes, specially selected set lists, and never-before seen performances. And when SHINee held their winter concert on December 21, 2013, they showed what a unique experience these concerts can be for fans, and also proved why they are one of the most internationally known K-Pop groups today.
SHINee’s “The Wizard” Concert kicked off SM Entertainment’s “SMTown Week” concert series ? a week-and-a-half-long showcase of some of the biggest names in Korean pop music, such as Super Junior and Girl’s Generation, held at the KINTEX Convention in Ilsan.
Two of the KINTEX halls were utilized by SM Entertainment: one for the concert itself, and the one next door for the display and promotion of all things SM. This special exhibit included outfits worn by SM artists in their most recent music videos, set pieces from those same music videos, and booths to purchase posters, photo books, t-shirts, and other official merchandise. Quickly after entering the hall, it was clear this was not meant to be an exhibit to bring more fans to the SM family of artists, or to educate you about who the artists were as people (though there was a wall of candid shots taken by the artists during their various individual tours during 2013). It was meant to be a Christmas gift to the die-hard fans, a display made especially for those who already knew the artists and their music and wanted to be just a little bit closer to them. But, once the concert hall doors opened for seating, the swarm of girls (because it was mostly teenage and 20-something girls with a sprinkling of very loving boyfriends) were quick to tear themselves away from the costumes and sets and flooded next door to prepare for the main event.
At 6 p.m. sharp, SHINee began their winter concert with a danceable, crowd-pleasing, never-before-seen stage. And the pace did not slow down for the next three hours. They performed some of their most famous singles, but in true fan-service fashion, many of the songs were ones only known to those who bought the album and listened to it multiple times. Performances ranged from the intricate choreography of group numbers for which SHINee is known, to an acoustic set with the members seated and backed only by a piano and guitar, to a set of songs from their recently-released Japanese album (which means, yes, SHINee did sing in Japanese). There were even individual member stages that showcased the group’s wide-ranging interests and talents; these stages included a rap hit, a rock ballad, and SHINee’s special version of the Macarena.
Three hours is a long time for anyone to perform, so there were several breaks throughout the concert. But these breaks were never left unfilled. Whether it was the members simply sitting on stage (while downing a couple bottles of water each) and joking about their performances and experiences over the last year, or showing the audience a clip of the members doing their own parody of the “Wizard of Oz” on the giant video screens, SHINee made sure that even their moments of rest entertained and delighted their fans. And if that was not enough fan service, they also threw gifts into the audience at least every 4 or 5 songs, went out into the crowd, and made sure that each member faced each section of the audience at least once.
They did all of this while singing, dancing, jumping around, and doing slapstick; among streamers, laser lights, pyrotechnics and rotating stages. While still managing to sound like they do on their albums throughout the entire concert, without double-tracking their voices.
SHINee did, however, tease their fans for nearly five minutes at what appeared to be the end of the concert. After finishing a winter love song (complete with fake snow falling over the entire audience), they said their farewells and left the stage, but the fans shouted for an encore. When they did finally come back out, they exploded into the high-energy dances of singles from their newest album. Fans showed their appreciation at the end of the encore by everyone ? literally every one of the thousands of attendees — holding up signs that read in Korean “Great job today”. And with a quiet thank you, Merry Christmas, and safe travels back home from each of the members, SHINee ended their 2013 winter concert with very little theatricality. They simply walked off stage, waving goodbye as any friend would after a visit.
“The Wizard” concert was not in any way like what many people would expect of such a hugely successful group. Instead of big hits, there were songs that only true fans would know. Instead of lots of heart-pounding dance tracks, there were lulls for some more subtle and slower songs. And instead of basking in their own celebrity, there was a lot of fan service, humor, and gratitude to the audience for coming. But more than just the unique experience of a winter concert itself, was the unique experiences of seeing one of K-Pop’s leading groups prove why they have become so internationally successful. SHINee’s winter concert showcased the 5-member group as true performers with the voices to match, and started off a showcase of SM artists that undoubtedly proved why this entertainment group (and K-Pop in general) is taking the world by storm.