Donald Trump would not have approved of the scene at the Fillmore this past Saturday night.
You can just imagine his face turning an even redder shade of orange had he learned a sold-out crowd was there to see a boy band that was not American.
Got7, a South Korean septet, launched a 2017 U.S. tour in Miami. In our world of unlimited subcultures, it was fascinating to see a city like Miami, with a microscopic Korean population, go bananas over an act whose lyrics are mostly in a language its American fans do not understand. New Times asked some concertgoers before the show about the appeal of Got7 and the k-pop phenomenon in general.
"I don't pay attention to lyrics; I pay attention to the way the music makes me feel," Rajhauna Crenshaw explained as she waited in line to pick up some band merchandise. She made the trip from Jacksonville to see the group after stumbling upon Got7 on YouTube.
Nadine Peteros made this performance her first-ever live-music experience. She brought along three friends from Greater Miami Adventist High School. "They're so good," she raved about Got7.
Nicholas Estevez, one of the few men in attendance not serving as a chaperone, said his girlfriend got him into k-pop. "It was so unique it got me into a wormhole. I've followed Got7 since they first debuted even though my friends give me a hard time."
This wasn't a concert in the traditional sense; it was billed as a "fan meet." The group played only eight songs during its two hours onstage. Much of the evening was spent with an enthusiastic MC asking the seven members questions about themselves and leading them through games of charades. Not that it mattered what the members of Got7 were doing to their die-hard fans. If they were simply eating dinner and watching Netflix, they would have inspired screams.
I recently attended an AC/DC concert where they were literally shooting cannons. The sound of the explosions didn't come close to the volume of Got7's audience. It helped me understand why the Beatles stopped touring after they said they couldn't hear what they were playing over their fans' enthusiasm.
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Got7's performance is in line with the traditional boy-band formula that New Kids on the Block, *Nsync, and One Direction followed. The members are exceptional dancers whose moves are influenced equally by Michael Jackson and Spider-Man. They dress alike and have a wholesome, goofy, nonthreatening demeanor. The music has touches of modern pop, hip-hop, and EDM, while the lyrics, mostly in Korean, always have a few English phrases thrown in regardless of whether they make sense. For instance, Got7's most recent hit is titled "Hard Carry."
Alexis Hodoyan, who writes for a Korean culture site, tried to explain Got7's appeal in music-journalist language. "They're eclectic, but not in a standoffish way. They're trendy but not fake."
Maybe the one positive aspect of globalization is that it has opened up a seemingly endless array of diverse cultures, so there's something for everyone. Boys in Mumbai can learn about rap from the Dirty South, Norwegians can obsess over Jamaican reggae, and girls in Miami can get into k-pop.
While a group of tweens on their way out of the show argued about which member of the group they thought was cutest, one fact became obvious: No wall can be built that will keep these fans from Got7.