Big Bang may not have the pretty-boy looks of Super Junior or the mile-long legs of Girl's Generation, but the group is still one of the biggest (if not the biggest) name in K-pop — and Singapore found out why over the weekend when the five-member group was in town to kick start their Samsung Alive Asia Tour.
Charismatic, energetic and consummate performers, the boys of Big Bang gave almost 20,000 fans a concert experience of a life time — smouldering, rapping, and belting out their hits for two and a half hours to a screaming audience that stayed on its feet right from the start to the end.
The concert started right on time at 7 pm when the five members burst onto the T-shaped stage with the electro tunes of "Tonight" to roaring approval from the crowd.
First to make an impression and drawing the loudest screams was the deep, low bass rapping of resident beat-boxer T.O.P, who electrified the crowd with his too-cool-for-school vibe and Alexander McQueen inspired look.
Known for his chiselled features and dark, smokey eyes, T.O.P tongue twisted his way through the super catchy Korean slang-rap hit "Knock Out", "High High" and solo single "Turn it Up", the thumping husky beat of his voice raising temperatures though he was nursing a serious arm injury.
"Even the corner store coffee's name is T.O.P / My black eyes shake that woman up / My long eyelashes are born from natural freedom/ different from disgusting SMOKY makeup" he rapped with a sharp, cocky confidence, bandaged left hand notwithstanding.
He also thanked fans for their concern about his injury, which he sustained during the filming of his latest movie, "Alumni".
Together with musical chameleon and rainbow-haired group leader G-Dragon, the two showed swag and attitude, dominating the stage on crazy sets that included moving escalators, raised platforms and CGI dragons.
The first half of the show featured Big Bang's more recent hits — from the smooth, soulful "Bad Boy" and the intense, angst-ridden "Love Song" to Lady Gaga-esque "Monster", and was interspersed with cheeky, spontaneous banter from the boys.
"My English is not that good... but... I love this place! I love you, Singapore!" yelled the joker and star dancer of the group, Taeyang, in American-accented English as he repeatedly flexed his bulging biceps and his trademark gravity-defying, tightly controlled dance moves.
Clearly the life of the party, Taeyang got the audience singing along in response to a series of loud "Let me hear you say yeah yeah"s with an infectious energy, and his two R&B solo ballads of the night — "Just Look at Me" and "Wedding Dress" — which were received with some of the loudest cheers.
Sartorially, G-Dragon was a standout. The notoriously unpredictable performer and fashion trend setter sported rainbow-coloured, slicked back hair and changed costumes at least thrice, appearing in a leather-esque kilt over jeans in one more bizarre display.
Even so, it was clearly a case of "GD" wearing the clothes and not the other way around. "Oh my god he's so sexy" was overheard repeatedly from the sea of frenzied fans and all eyes were on him as he broke out into a dazzling, uncharacteristic smile before breaking into his latest solo hit, "Crayon".
Junior members Dae Sung and Seung-ri also performed rare solos, displaying a stage presence belying their usually understated performances on records as support to the other three more senior Big Bang boys.
While baby of the group Seung-ri was a little shaky on a military inspired remix of his solo hit "Strong Baby", his voice was strong and steady for the rest of the night.
Dae Sung, on the other hand, truly shone in his soaring take on "Wings", displaying some seriously strong pipes as he hit every high and deep note perfectly, finally appearing in a huge pair of white wings as his song hit its emotional climax.
Throughout the show, the Big Bang boys zipped around the stage like forces of nature, all strong and different personalities that strangely complemented each other, never completely stealing the show from the others.
Three quarters into the night, just when the audience were starting to shuffle, exhausted, into their seats, Big Bang whipped out another weapon in it's loaded arsenal of crowd pleasers — "Haru Haru" (Day by Day), "Lies", and "Heaven".
"Haru Haru", in particular was nostalgic for many of the fans as the group's breakout hit and it was truly amazing to hear as ten thousand sang along in Korean to the boy's stripped down, semi-acapella version of the song.
Things got crazy again towards the end of the night. It almost felt like Big Bang couldn't get enough of the adrenaline rush as they continued with hit after hit, repeating "Bad Boy" and finally performing "Fantastic Baby", their dance single of this summer.
High on adoration and the pure rush of performing, G-Dragon was spotted lying down on the stage at one point, still rapping even as he lay prone from exhaustion.
Taeyang zipped to and fro the stage, spraying fans with bottles of water and working up a sweat, while T.O.P, donning a rakish pirate's hat, decided to sit on the edge of the stage, just metres away from the huge mosh-pit of fans and pounding energy.
Three songs after their so-called "encore", the boys of Big Bang finally exited the stage with a "Thank You Singapore", leaving behind ten thousand exhilirated fans who surely felt like they had truly received enough "Bang" for their bucks.
Bursting with talent and originality in a industry full of cookie-cutter pop bands, Big Bang truly set the standard for performance this past weekend and are a musical force to be reckoned with.