Toronto Kpop Con 2018: Amber and A.C.E
K-pop boy group A.C.E and solo artist Amber have fan-meetings in Toronto
This past weekend was the annual Toronto Kpop Con put on by Pop! Goes the World and held right downtown at the Toronto Convention Centre. Read on to hear about the two K-pop artists that performed, Amber and A.C.E.
I gladly take the five-hour road trip from Detroit to Toronto for this event every year because it's worth the drive to see more than one artist and attend the convention. Especially since Detroit K-pop fans' only other options are usually Chicago and New York – except that one time Day6 came to Detroit.
There have been as many as four groups performing during the convention, but that number has been narrowed down to two this year in order to make it a more manageable weekend since, unlike other K-pop conventions, each artist does a full fan-meeting/concert, rather than just a few songs back to back with other artists.
The two artists performing at "TKC18" were Amber and A.C.E, both of which I was excited to attend. Amber's fan-meeting came first on Friday, and A.C.E took the stage on Saturday. Throughout the whole weekend you could shop and participate in all the K-pop themed activities which are listed on the TKC website. The remaining day of the convention was devoted to vendors, events, and the "Canada Dream Stage" performances by some popular cover artists, dancers, and more.
A.C.E is a five-member boy group made up of incredibly skilled singers and dancers Jun, Donghun, Wow, Jason, and Chan. This group is known by their fans for their precise and powerful covers of popular K-pop choreography and their equally flawless and strong vocal covers. Of course, more important than their covers are their own songs which highlight these skills and have unique, memorable choreography to go with them.
The fans in A.C.E's audience were surprisingly dedicated and thrilled despite this group being relatively new (or "rookie") for a K-pop group. Even among the many U.S. K-pop concerts I've attended, A.C.E's fans (called "CHOICE") had one of the highest levels of excitement and word-for-word lyric knowledge – enough for the whole audience's voices to be filling up the venue singing along to every song, and not just the choruses!
I was impressed, but not too surprised, by this group's ability to draw plenty of fans that truly love them abroad despite their struggle for recognition in their home country, where a large company's label along with its money matter most for advertisement and fame – and they're from a small label. In contrast, abroad fans often get their impression of a group off of their online content, like from A.C.E's videos showcasing their dancing and singing skills (see below).
A.C.E did an extensive encore including multiple cover dances that they used to do while busking on the streets in Hongdae, S. Korea. Here are some of the songs, including links to A.C.E's busking videos on YouTube: BTS - Growl, BTS - I Need U and Dope, BIGBANG - BANG BANG BANG and Good Boy.
With the higher tier tickets to TKC performances, you also got the chance to do a Hi-Touch (High-five each member), take a photo with the group and 9 other audience members, or both. I was one of the lucky people to snatch up second row seats in the ticket rush, which meant I got to do both. A.C.E was very grateful, kind, excited, and attentive to all of their fans during these events; I even got to have a little conversation with Jun about his "exciting" experience performing for us during the photo!
Amber Liu is a solo-artist and member of the girl group f(x). She is from LA and is incredibly popular with English-speaking fans – and not just because of the easy communication. Amber is a genuine and kind person who, more than once during the fan-meeting, said that her goal is to not be a "crappy person" and to help people whenever she can.
She is also hilarious, so the audience was laughing and having fun the whole night. At one point, the audience was trying out pick-up lines on her, and she spoke directly to individuals in the audience throughout the night.
Amber stands out in the K-pop industry for her non-conforming gender expression, her openness with saying that she will be who she is no matter what people say, and for always saying that she will accept others for their own differences too.
She is a person that the K-pop industry needs because she has maintained fame without conforming to the expectations placed on women about femininity – particularly for women in the K-pop industry. She is beloved by fans all over the world for not just her music, but also for being an incredibly kind person and a voice for those who don't have much of one.
Since this was her first solo fan-meeting and her first time in Toronto, we got to see her new music video for "White Noise" and a performance of the song before it is released. She also recently released a mix-tape, titled Rogue Rouge, and music videos produced with her friends to go along with it. One song she performed was from Rogue Rouge, called "Closed Doors."
As a fan you can get a sense that her company SM Entertainment (one of the three largest in S. Korea) has not been doing much on her behalf, so she is taking it upon herself to put out content. She even has a personal YouTube channel called "What the Pineapple!"