As almost everyone who knows me knows, G-DRAGON is my ultimate bias. It goes without saying that once the announcement of his North American tour was made, I was prepared to be broke for at least a year. GD performed at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, a well-known and frequented venue for successful artists, on July 30. I heard his unique voice (the attribute that first drew me to the artist), witnessed his infectious smile in person, and saw his little black mullet which he somehow made look attractive. Basically, I had the time of my life, but despite this, I’ll try my very best to not be too biased. Keyword: Try.
Act I: G-DRAGON
The idol opened up the stage with “HEARTBREAKER,” immediately washing the venue in bright red. The energy was addicting, and G-DRAGON fed off of it as he impressively danced to many of his old songs, something he does not do too much anymore. Personally, I do not listen to G-DRAGON’s Heartbreaker songs very much. While great, the auto-tune K-Pop phase isn’t my thing. However, these songs were upgraded live, the auto-tuning diminished as well as the pop sound. Rock instead played behind the songs partway through, giving them a whole new, epic feeling. Mine, and many others’ favorite, was “악몽 Obsession.” The MOTTE version of this track was phenomenal.
Act II: G-DRAGON vs. Kwon Jiyong
After the first break, G-DRAGON sang songs from both One of a Kind and COUP D’ETAT. Highlights included him sitting elegantly, in a fashionable burgundy suit, on a white structure. The stage setup for “Black” was one of the most impressive of the whole night. Big screens showing floating bodies in water slowly swayed as dancers were suspended from the ceiling, becoming one with the backdrop and making the whole setup look surreal. Another highlight was “너무 좋아 I Love it.” The charismatic performer danced around the stage, eliciting screams when he showed off his groovy moves in that burgundy, velvet suit. Fan favorite “니가 뭔데 Who You” made the venue erupt in excited screams as soon as it began playing.
After this segment came a video showing interviews with family and friends. The crowd cheered when certain familiar faces appeared, like Taeyang, CL, and of course Jiyong’s mother, father, and sister. The interview had these friends and family explain who G-DRAGON is, and then who Kwon Jiyong is, in which many said he is quiet, caring, and “the best son”—sweetly said by his father. After this came the final act of the night.
Act III: Kwon Jiyong
Jiyong then appeared and opened the final act with a favorite of mine, “Superstar.” The crowd loved to scream the lyrics of the chorus for this track: “I need somebody, I ain’t got nobody!” After an energy-filled “BULLSHIT,” Jiyong paused to talk to the crowd (in impressive English). He thanked everyone and explained why he wanted to make an album that reflects him, Kwon Jiyong, instead of the persona that is G-DRAGON.
There is always one song that I end up falling in love with after a concert, despite not caring for it beforehand. While “악몽 Obsession” was a contender, the real winner was “신곡 Divina Commedia.” It was a song that I kind of liked, but always skipped on my playlist; however, hearing this kind of dark song live gave it new life, and even new meaning. I could feel the pain and desperation Jiyong was trying to get across, and the loud thump of the bass as well as the added electric guitars made everything so much more dramatic. The setting was dark with a spanning backdrop of bare trees in a red forest. Eventually it made my eyes deceive themselves by seeing Jiyong himself move within the dead forest on screen. It was haunting in the best way possible.
Crowds chanted “Kwon Jiyong” once the show was over, leading the way for the encore of “삐딱하게 Crooked.” Confetti decorated the venue as the song began to end, but of course, it ain’t over until it’s over. The final song was “Untitled, 2014.” I personally was worried about this song, for I easily become emotional at concerts. However, Jiyong made the mood light with his many antics. Jiyong was on the floor, where the VIP section stood, singing and making faces at fans and slow-dancing around. As soon as the song was finished and everything went dark, Jiyong began to sing “괜찮아” over and over again without the music, finally moving into the last chorus once again. To the fans’ entertainment (and the security guards’ likely disdain) Jiyong hilariously air-pianoed on one of the security’s bent-down back, before finally leaving with a genuine smile.
Overall, MOTTE was an incredible show. It was everything a fan could have hoped for. Not only that, but Jiyong himself seemed genuinely happy to be there, and, to me, a happy performer makes a performance that much more enjoyable. I sincerely hope that Jiyong takes a good rest before heading out to Australia for the next part of MOTTE.