Matrix Showcase Marks Strong Return for B.A.P

B.A.P made their triumphant return to the K-Pop scene November 15, 2015. For the Baby fandom, it was the moment we’ve all been waiting for since the lawsuit announcement last November. While the wait was long—perhaps too long for some fans—B.A.P did their best to remind their fans why they’re one of the strongest male groups in the industry due to their power and unique color.

International fans had an opportunity to watch the comeback showcase at Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Art Hall 2 on V-App. While watching on V-App didn’t provide the same rush as being in the actual crowd, it provided an opportunity to experience the show without feeling crushed or without dealing with poor acoustics that some concert venues have. Watching the show on the mobile app, however, did bring some glitches given how many people were watching, but the computer version was far more stable, enhancing the experience.

Prior to the show starting, there was a strong sense of anticipation from worldwide Babyz viewing the app and the 3,000-or-so fans at venue. This anticipation exploded when the opening segment began and the green Matoki lights switched on to create an ocean of light. Then, B.A.P appeared and started the hour-long showcase with their debut track “Warrior,” which was followed by “No Mercy” and the swagger-heavy “Excuse Me.”

Even though B.A.P have been gone for one year and nine months (this excludes concerts and appearances that occurred through October 2014), it was like they never left. Choreography was still sharp and vocals were clear. B.A.P didn’t miss a beat. Watching them on the stage was bittersweet because of how healthy and happy they all appeared. Yongguk flashed his trademark gummy smile, while Himchan exuded his cheery charm. The usually chill 4D member Jongup was chattier and glowing. Zelo looked thrilled to be able to dance and rap again, while Youngjae’s smooth voice and Daehyun’s signature honey vocals floated across the sea of light sticks effortlessly. Fan were treated to the hardworking B.A.P they all knew and loved.

During the talk segments, B.A.P expressed joy and gratitude their fans. Watching them, it was clear they missed their fandom and the stage, especially since they looked teary-eyed at some points during their conversations.

After some older hits, fans were treated to the new MATRIX tracks. The excitement over hearing the new tracks caused the V-App chat to freeze temporarily, and hearts (V-App’s “like” system) soared from three million to 10 million in just minutes.

The set started with their title track “Young, Wild, & Free.” The track, which has strong rock and hip-hop elements, got viewers pumped. Jongup and Zelo worked on the choreography, so kudos goes to them for a strong sense of musicality and well-maintained moves. The song is a strong comeback hit that has an anthem quality. One of the best moments was when Daehyun and Youngjae’s voices combined to create a super high note.

The next track to be unveiled was “BLIND.” “BLIND” is highly emotional and beautifully composed. The one element that stood out is the well-done vocal distribution. Each member got ample opportunity to shine, including Himchan who has the raspiest vocals out of all the members and often doesn’t get enough lines. The track shows his growth as a stronger singer. Jongup, too, has more opportunities to shine, and it’s clear he’s a stronger vocalist as well. “BLIND” quickly established itself as a fan favorite on V-App.

“Take You There” was the third new song. B.A.P revealed the song is for the fans, and that radiated in their stage presence. The track is more poppy than the usual B.A.P-flavor. It has hints of R&B as well. It was fun watching how B.A.P performed the song because they looked legitimately thrilled. The choreography was also cute and charming, adding more depth to an already enjoyable track.

The final new song was “Be Happy.” For “Be Happy,” the B in B.A.P stands for babo since the group became loveable dorks. The youthful dancing and flat “la, la, la” parts made the song an easy earworm. It’s impossible to not feel happy with “Be Happy” because it has addictive instrumentals and a catchy chorus. “Be Happy” was just too adorable.

The showcase wrapped with other classic B.A.P songs, “1004 (Angel)” and “With You,” a fan-favorite. There was significance with wrapping the show with these two songs: “1004” brought B.A.P some music show wins, and “With You” is dedicated to fans.

The one downfall of the event included too much focus on video montages. While it was nice to see footage of past B.A.P MVs, it would have been better if one or two more songs were incorporated in the montages’ place. While I’m all for seeing my boys’ precious faces, after not seeing them for over a year, hearing the music was more of a priority.

With the above considered, the MV for “Young, Wild, & Free” could have waited until the end of the showcase instead of playing directly after the live performance of the track. This created a sense of repetition that disturbed the flow of the showcase. By unveiling the MV at the end, there could have been a deeper sense of anticipation and elation. Fans could have absorbed the imagery better instead of seeing it and moving forward to other new material.

Even though there were some moments that impacted the showcase, it was well-done overall. The flaws could be easily overlooked because of the enjoyment. Their return made a lot of people happy, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Welcome back, B.A.P!

—-Joelle Halon

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