Concert Reflections

My Response to the Sunbae Effect- Taiwan Edition

A few days ago, the website theoneshots.com posted an intriguing article titled “The Sunbae Effect: Does Seniority Breed Laziness?”. Here’s a quote:

“The music business, much like any other industry, is a “pay your dues and get respect” type of business, especially in a country like Korea where respect and humbleness are arguably a life or death situation. Without a doubt, super groups like SNSD,Big Bang2NE1Super JuniorTVXQ, and solo artists likeBoA and Hyori have paid their dues – but does that give them a free pass to be lazy?”

The article raises some interesting questions regarding the structure of the entertainment industry in Korea. With the first few years being so cutthroat, how do things change for the idols once you have finally “made it”?  Does this give them the excuse to become lazy at times? Why would fans put up with this kind of behavior?

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Following the introduction, the article goes on to cite different instances when these sunbae groups performed less than stellar performances. F(x), Girls’ Generation, and T.O.P. are included along with videos of their half-asked examples.

My response to the Sunbae Effect- Taiwan Edition

I definitely saw this happen at a few of the concerts I went to in Taiwan. As a fan, I was disappointed, but I also tried to remember that while many idolize these people, they are still people. People make mistakes and sometimes they aren’t going to be their best 24/7. But then again, fans are paying big money to see these people perform. Should they be held accountable?

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I observed that there is a big difference in performers’ attitudes in a solo show vs. a large group concert with many different acts. In solo shows, the artists tend to put in a ton of effort and work into their performances. They prepare for months and it really pays off for the fans who come see the show.

These shows are also usually part of a much larger world tour. When Korean artists tour, they mean business. Hitting 10 different countries in a short period can act as a big incentive for them to showcase their talents to an international audience. Chances are these shows are going to bring extreme delight fans (baring some horrible disaster, like cancellation). Their management company has invested too much into this tour for them to half-ass their own show!

Examples: G-Dragon, Team H (Jang Keun Suk), Boyfriend, CNBlue, & B.A.P

I’ve found that where the “Sunbae Effect” really shines through is at group concerts. 

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One of the worst concerts I went to was a Beast/4Minute joint concert where everything was poorly put together and not at all fluid. The dancing was kind of a free for all, with very little actual choreography. The trademark songs were performed, but this was clearly just from memory. I mean, if you have done the same dance 1,000+ times, I’m guessing you could be half asleep and still do a better job than 99% of the world.

At one point they even mistakenly started playing the same song twice. I can definitely see how Cube Entertainment just wanted to make some quick money and I doubt much prep work went into the show beforehand. The two bands never even interacted on stage. So many missed opportunities for the fans!

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Another Example: Happy 4 Kpop with SNSD, EXO, ZE:A- Five, & BTOB

In this case, I thought BTOB was the highlight (maybe because they haven’t quite made it to sunbae level yet…). SNSD was fine, but I wish I could have seen their actual tour. There’s something magical about multiple costume changes and perfectly coordinated light-shows with fireworks. These group shows just can’t compete. I can understand why sunbaes are more likely to half-ask their work here.

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My one exception to the unimpressive group concert trend was M!Countdown- Nihao Taiwan. It turns out if it’s for national TV in Korea the artists will be in TOP form. I guess this makes sense- they will be held accountable for their actions! Better bring your a-game!

My advice: Spend money on individual shows. Even it is a sunbae group, chances are they will be on their best behavior at these performances!

Now, most international fans can’t be too picky about which concerts they attend, if they even get the rare opportunity. Group concerts are alright, but the solo performances are really where the K-pop idols shine!

What are you thoughts on this “Sunbae Effect”? Thanks again to theoneshots.com for the great article!

On a side note, did you enjoy the pictures? They are all from different concerts I went to in Taiwan!

 I had great fun taking them!

Rachel

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