My visit at the KPOP.FLEX Festival in Frankfurt!
Getting up at 5 in the morning to start the drive towards Frankfurt at 6. On normal days this would be very hard for me, but when you are on the way to a concert it is different.
The concert I'm talking about is the KPOP.FLEX festival in Frankfurt! I was there on Sunday, May 15 and would like to share my experience with you. Especially for those who couldn't be there and would like to hear more about it. Maybe also to decide if it's worth visiting next year, because KPOP.FLEX has already announced new dates for 2023!
Of course, those of you who were also at the concert and are interested in a different perspective are also welcome. Feel free to tell me in the comments how it was for you and if you would go again!
I have to say that on Saturday I got my doubts if the concert will be a good experience, after seeing on social media that even before the entrance visitors were falling over in the heat and the water supply was very limited. Later, however, free water bottles were distributed, I guess, after all. Another big excitement spread not only on site but also on social media when it became clear on the day of the concert that the 5-hour show would consist of a 2-hour pre-show - during which dance crews performed, for example - and 2 ½ to 3 hours of performances by the K-Pop stars. Most fans had assumed that the 5 hours would be completely filled with the stars. But afterwards, many videos circulated on the net with fans raving about meeting the idols and the grand performances. So I shook off all the worries and started the day optimistically!
On the way to Frankfurt!
I was in good company from the start because I was going to the concert together with my twin sister Sarah. But the day got even better when we got on the ICE to Frankfurt in Cologne. Because believe it or not, coincidence had it that the other half of our block of four seats was also booked by KPOP.FLEX visitors. You should have seen our faces when we realized that our seat neighbors were also going to the festival!
Half an hour later we knew each other's favorite bands and then we figured we should introduce ourselves properly. That actually happens to me a lot. I get into conversation so quickly and am immediately engrossed and then often forget to mention my name. By the way, I am Helen, the author of this blog! My new friends are called Seline and Leonie. Almost the best thing about concerts for me is meeting new people and maybe even making friends. So I was already super happy when we arrived in Frankfurt at about half past ten!
I got the feeling that the train station was 70% filled with festival goers. Everywhere I looked there were K-Pop fans, many of them also in K-Pop Flex t-shirts they bought on Saturday. It was honestly half a fashion show. The majority of the outfits must have been planned weeks in advance. In fact, even beforehand, I kept seeing videos on TikTok of festival-goers presenting their outfits and, in some cases, asking for help deciding.
The fans were so smart to take lockers already in the Frankfurt main station, in order not to have to queue so long at the bag drop in front of the hall after the concert. Leonie had the same plan, but because most of the lockers in the station were broken, we moved on to the hall.
The trains to the hall were well filled, as expected, but it was still manageable. Probably because the entrance to the area already started at 10 am and we arrived later. Since my twin sister and I as well as Leonie and Seline had seat tickets, we were able to relax a bit.
At 12 o'clock we were on the premises.
Finding the way was not difficult, we just had to follow the masses. It was hard to believe that all these people could fit into the stadium later! And it was not as crowded as on Saturday. There were not just one or two, but at least 10 fans on the way, handing out free homemade photo cards and banners. It's always great to see how friendly and open the K-Pop community can be!
Besides making new friends, a joy of concerts is of course meeting "old" friends. So after many long months, I finally got to hug my friend Jenny again, who I rarely see because of the distance. A concert like this brings us together again! My elementary school friend Kawthar was also there! Together we looked at the merchandise stands, where there were not only about 20 different t-shirt and hoodie variations to buy, but also stuffed animals and keychains of the two mascots or a KPOP.FLEX Lightstick.
There was also Asian food and a number of cultural stalls in a large square behind. But especially in front of the food stalls the queues were so long that Jenny preferred to eat an easier to reach cheese pretzel. By the way, the weather was great! It quickly got very warm in the sun, but there was plenty of shade on the grounds to escape to, and a light breeze kept reaching us.
We entered the hall at about 2 pm and prepared for waiting time.
After all, the gigs were not supposed to start until 4pm after the pre-show. By the way, on Sunday it consisted only of the performance of a dance group and a long time with empty stage and dark screens. I heard afterwards that there must have been technical problems.
Now, as we sat in our seats and waited for the first performances, concern came back to me. Until this weekend, we were always told that the concert would end at 6pm. Since I had to work the next day, we booked the return trip for 19:10. My sister and I arrived with so little luggage that we didn't have to hand in any bags and could leave directly after the concert. However, the setlist that was distributed on Saturday said that the last artist, EXO's Kai, would not take the stage until 18:20. We would have had to leave in the middle of his performance to get back to Frankfurt Station in time. And we weren't the only ones there. During the course of the day, I noticed that many others felt the same way. No wonder, after all, most of us have to work or go to school on Mondays. So you can imagine my relief when it was announced that the concert would start at half past two. Of course, this still caused chaos again, because a large amount of the visitors who assumed that the Idols would not perform until 4pm were still outside the hall, for example in the queues in front of the food stalls. I hope no one missed much and honestly don't know if the earlier start was announced outside via loudspeaker. In the half hour until the start, music videos were broadcast over the screens, starting with "Tomboy" by (G)I-DLE.
Then the concert finally started!
A video message from actress Jung Ho Yeon, who became famous through Squid Game, was broadcast over the screens.
She thanked European fans for their love of Korean dramas and music and wished us a good time! Afterwards, all the artists were called on stage one by one to introduce themselves. Finally, after all these months of anticipation, I get to see them live on stage! So only small, since I sit in the upper tier, but good enough to be able to tell them apart. After Kai joined them last, everyone left the stage again. Almost all of them. It took me a few seconds to realize that Mamamoo stayed behind on the front stage, and there they already started with their first performance!
Mamamoo started with "Aya", then took a short break to speak to us fans and then performed their hits "Gogobebe", "Hip" and finally "Um Oh Ah Yeah". On Saturday, instead of "Um Oh Ah Yeah," Mamamoo had sung their relatively new song "Mumumumuch." However, as someone who has known Mamamoo since their debut in 2014, I was very happy to see them pull out one of their older songs for us, as "Um Oh Ah Yeah" came out in 2015!
After Mamamoo left the stage, Kai came on as the host and announced IVE. At least we got to see him in between that way, because he didn't make an appearance until the end.
Kpop Flex was not only the first German concert for the rookie group, which debuted just late last year, but also the group's first ever visit to Europe. It was also the girl group's first time performing in front of so many people! It was an honor to be there. But you hardly noticed it, because IVE presented "Love Dive", "Royal" and their debut song "Eleven" very confidently! It was clearly noticeable how popular the girl group is, because especially with the title songs Love Dive and Eleven the fans passionately sang along the choruses!
I was especially pleased that the members spoke to us in English during their talk section between Royal and Eleven! They were the only ones to do so and it was just great that I could understand them without subtitles!
Dreamcatcher first performed their new title song "Mansion" and after a short introduction round they also performed their hits "BEcause" and "Scream". The performances were very powerful and energetic. Especially because Dreamcatcher didn't perform on stage on Saturday, but only on Sunday, the group probably put a lot of effort into their performance!
Afterwards, this time Gaeul and Yujin from IVE entered the stage as presenters and announced AB6IX.
Before AB6IX's performance, a vlog was broadcast on the screens, which the boy group recorded especially for us. In it we see the journey and arrival of the boys in Germany and even how they discover the stadium - the Deutsche Bank Park - from the plane. It's actually so big that you could see it clearly!
The video was very cute and entertaining, but of course I was especially excited when AB6IX came on stage. Unfortunately, I don't know the boy band's music that well, so a friend had to help me out to get the songs together. But thanks to her I can tell you now that after a cool dance intro we saw performances of "Close", "1,2,3" and "Do You Remember". Before the third song the guys challenged us to a little dance challenge and taught us some moves to NCT "Kick It", Black Pink "DDU-DU DDU-DU" and BTS "Permission to Dance".
Before (G)I-DLE performed with Tomboy, the members taught us a few of the key moves via video. So we were theoretically ready to dance along a bit. Unfortunately, I'm a terrible dancer, but I waved a balloon during the concert to cheer on the stars! I apologize at this point to my seat neighbor, who got the balloon in her face twice ...
After "Tomboy," (G)I-DLE performed "LATATA," "Oh My God" and "My Bag." We roared along to the line "Oh My God" as loud and clear as hardly anything else before. It was a super atmosphere!
After (G)I-DLE, Yujin and Gaeul from IVE came on stage once again and asked us some trivia questions like "Who is the only solo artist performing today?" before making room for the next performance. First, though, a video was played by Stray Kids, Purple Kiss, DKZ, Younite, and Eunbi (formerly in IZ*ONE) greeting us! They also told us which songs from other artists they would like to cover. The video served as an introduction to Dreamcatcher's special cover stage! The girl group came out once again and sang a cover of Blackpink's "Kill This Love"!
Monsta X's performance was introduced by a video in which the boy group thanked their fans for their support as they celebrated their 7th anniversary on Saturday, May 14. As soon as the boys took the stage, it became clear how many Monsta X fans had gathered in the hall. I saw Monsta X lightsticks all around me before, but the cheers were even more meaningful than anything else. We were cheering loudly for the other artists as well, but somehow the volume almost doubled. It was incredible! And Monsta X was equally enthusiastic, at least. They really fired it up with hits like their new title song "Love," the song "Autobahn," as well as "Gambler" and "Saranghanda." Literally. During their performance to "Gambler" fire actually came shooting out of the stage! Between "Autobahn" and "Gambler" the members also confessed their love to the fans. Among other things, we got to hear Kihyun sing a few lines of his new solo song "Voyager," Hyungwon briefly covered "Love" Dive by IVE, and Jooheon showed off his iconic "Kukukaka"!
Presenters came on stage one last time. This time Daehwi and Donghyun from AB6IX. They announced the last act of the day:
Kai first performed "Peaches" and after a talk break he performed "Vanilla" and "To Be Honest". Afterwards he revealed that he performed "To Be Honest" on Kpop Flex for the first time. Once again, I felt honored! At the end of the performance, confetti was shot into the air; a fitting end to the concert.
Kai said goodbye, left the stage and on the screens it was announced that KPOP.FLEX will come to Germany again on June 17 and 18, 2023. Already the audience was streaming out of the stadium to make their way home.
It was about 17:45, so I actually had time to say goodbye to Jenny before I went to the S-Bahn with my sister. The tracks were very crowded, as expected, but we made it onto the next train and were at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof early enough to buy something to eat for the return trip. Shortly after we left, though, things must have gotten really bad because two friends we booked the return trip with were stuck at the S-Bahn for so long that they missed our ICE....
For me, everything actually went quite well, but especially with the standing room, the organization was apparently catastrophic. The security seemed to have no idea who had to go where and in the end even people with normal standing room were standing next to those with VIP tickets. The actual concert was awesome and definitely worth it! Personally, though, I probably won't go next year because I was constantly stressed out in the months leading up to it because KPOP.FLEX communicated poorly with fans and something kept changing. But it was a great experience despite everything. We'll see if the organizers learned something this year and prepare better for next time.
Will you get tickets for next year? Feel free to let me know in the comments!
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