I’ll admit that, leading up to MONSTA X’s Beautiful in the U.S. Dallas show, I wasn’t sure how cohesive the group’s live performance would be. I’m a casual fan of the group, rather than a full-on stan, so I hadn’t seen anything on Twitter about their tour’s previous concerts. I was going in blind. But the extreme conceptual differences between the group’s debut year’s titles and where they are now didn’t seem like something that would mesh very well. After all, how could ultra edgy, almost anarchistic-style concepts pair with the pink-and-blue-covered modern concepts of the past year?
However, I was immediately proven wrong, as MONSTA X showed not only why they’re at the edge of greatness in the K-Pop industry, but also how well they can adjust to the less than ideal situation of being one man down.
A Smooth Experience
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Every group has different concepts, Haley. That’s not just MONSTA X. Trust me, I know. For some reason, though, the seven-man group from Starship Entertainment just stands out in my mind. What Starship is brilliant at doing, however, is combining two seemingly contradictory styles and blending them into a seemingly effortless middle ground.
While MONSTA X’s live performance skills are nothing to be scoffed at, I really have to give the biggest props for the overall success of the show to the stage design team. Everything from the background graphics to the lighting design was meticulously considered to allow an effortless flow of transitions from pop-EDM songs like “Shine Forever” to more down-and-dirty songs like “Be Quiet.” The constant mixing of MONSTA X’s four main concept colors—red, pink, blue, and purple—between the lights, stage costumes, and graphics really helped mold the entire show together.
The group’s speaking script also flowed well, despite the usual pain of needing to include a translator in the mix. The group clearly considered how often they needed to pause for the translator to not be overwhelmed, waiting a moment after he was done to make sure they didn’t end up speaking over him. They even did their best to speak in English whenever they could, which I always appreciate. I don’t think anyone ever expects K-Pop idols to be able to say everything in English, but it’s always nice to see that they’ve at least prepared a few lines here and there to make the experience truly memorable for fans.
Whenever there’s one member missing, it’s evident. Hyungwon’s absence was clear, but the remaining six members did a brilliant job of covering the holes when they could. For a casual fan who might not have been familiar with particular breakdowns or how each member’s voice sounds, it would have been almost impossible to tell that there was someone missing based on the audio alone.
The only place where Hyungwon’s absence was glaringly evident was during the unit stages. Wonho was left partnerless, making him perform half the stage on his own and the second, choreography-heavy half with a replacement dancer. While Wonho managed perfectly fine on his own, you can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to see it performed the way it was meant to be.
Credit to the Fans
Of course, no concert experience would be complete without a full crowd of loving fans. Verizon Theater is usually the largest venue on U.S. legs of K-Pop tours, holding around 6,000 fans for just one concert. Though tickets were still available just a couple weeks leading up to the event, it looked like MONSTA X managed to bring in an almost completely packed house of dedicated Monbebes.
The group’s newly redesigned lightstick is an impressive thing to see en masse, making the theater look like a galaxy when it went dark. Fan groups even organized an event for the encore, handing out blue and pink bags that concertgoers could slip over their lightsticks, combining that visual Monbebe pride with how vocal they were throughout the entire two-and-a-half-hour concert. Staying hyped that long can be tiring, especially when a lot of the fans waited out in 100+ degree heat before taking their seats. That didn’t stop Monbebes from showing all the love they could for MONSTA X on their first world tour.
Overall, MONSTA X’s concert was even more enjoyable than I expected it to be. The connection between the group and their fans is important, and that showed throughout the night. While I was ready for a good show, I wasn’t prepared to watch one that would leave me wanting more and, in turn, blasting even more MONSTA X tunes with the windows down as I left the venue.