Vocal powerhouse Mamamoo makes their Oakland debut

By: Jason Yu

The Oakland Arena would play host to one of K-pop’s best vocals: Mamamoo. The four-member group would make their Oakland debut at the Oakland Arena for their “My Con” US tour.

Representing the second-to-last city before their return back to Korea (Los Angeles would be their final US stop), the Oakland audience came in full force, having a near-packed stadium. Talking to Mamamoo fans, affectionally known as MooMoos, before the show only furthered excitement.

Comments such as, “They (Mamamoo) finally came to the Bay Area!”, “I can’t wait to see them live,” and “we’re finally getting a lot of K-pop in the Bay” were heard often. After buying the white and green radish-shaped lightsticks, black Mamamoo US tour T-shirts, and other merch, fans started to swarm inside the Oakland arena.

The Bay Area was ready for Mamamoo. The ladies did not disappoint.

The audience bopping up-and-down to Mamamoo’s music.
Credits: The author

Opening up the show in white-colored attire and boots, the group opened up with their signature, powerful, live vocals. Hearing their voices live is quite impressive, as many K-pop concerts use pre-recorded tracks with the singers occasionally singing live. And to be fair, it is quite difficult to sing while dancing and keeping up good stage presence with the audience.

Yet, Mamamoo would have none of that, belting out banger after banger live throughout their over two-hour concert. Many fans were dancing to bangers such as “Hip,” “Mr. Ambiguous,” and “Aya” and with good reason: they’re incredibly catchy. Other standouts such as “Wind Flower,” “Star Wind Flower Sun,” and “Decalcomanie” showcased why the group is known for having some of the best vocals in K-pop.

Photo credit: BacardixCola (YouTube)

Wheein sings pop like few others in the industry, Solar provides the soothing R&B, Hwasa has a mix of both pop and rap in her singing arsenal, and Moonbyul drops the beats as the group’s star rapper. Put together, the four ladies can sing with the best of Korea’s ballad, trot, and R&B soloists.

Throughout the performance, Mamamoo used hand mics and it would be easy to excuse them for having a difficult time dancing. Yet, they were quite clean with no hiccups (with the exception of one – more on this later), as their performance utilized their eight backup dancers to the fullest effect. During a few sets when the Mamamoo singers had to leave the stage for a outfit change, the backup dancers would shine. They would often perform alongside a solo Mamamoo member or even perform by themselves to the delight of the audience.

The concert used lighting quite well.
Credits: The author.

Each member had their own solo performance and mixed it up, where they covered each other’s tracks, such as Moonbyul covering Hwasa’s “Twit.” The members also sang their own songs, with Hwasa’s “Maria” bringing the loudest cheers of the solo performances.

Going back to that one exception that was a hiccup, the ladies turned that mistake into one of the most memorable moments of the concert. During the opening of “Starry Night,” the ladies messed up and rather re-sing that particular verse, they made a fun, impromptu skit to play off their mistake. The audience got a kick out of the ladies laughing off their mistake before they got back on track.

Throughout the two-plus hour concert, it was planned quite well. The concert did not have fluff, the ladies had little down-time in performing songs, and when they did interact with the audience, it was deeper than “I love you Oakland!”

The concert had three intermissions, which each had their own video segments to entertain audiences while Mamamoo changes outfits and gets a much-needed rest.

The first intermission video, “Little Fairy Friends – Season 3.”

The first was called “Little Fairy Friends – Season 3,” an animated segment featuring fairies that wanting to go Mamamoo concert while also arguing who is the tallest fairy. The storyline was written by Solar and was a fun watch. The second video segment was about a Mamamoo restaurant, where the ladies would drink and eat while talking about their career and life. Topics such as “where do you see yourself in five years” and “what do you want in life” were discussed, questions that quite relevant to idols as they become older.

The third video intermission was perhaps the most well-received. The Mamamoo ladies had to complete a series of challenges as a group. If they completed all the tasks in time, they would get a special reward. The setup was one member had to first complete a challenge, then the next member all the way to the last. If someone messed up, they had to start over with the first member redoing their challenge again. After redoing the entire challenge several times, to the constant laughter of the audience, the Mamamoo members finally completed the entire set without messing up.

Their prize: an encore to the Oakland audience.

The confetti starts to fall.
Credits: The author.

After their final song “Um Oh Ah Yeh,” their encore came to an end. With Hwasa saying they hope they can come back to Oakland again through a Korean translator, Moonbyul would end the concert by saying “Goooodbyyyeee!” in English.

The nine-year group has been in the K-pop game since their 2014 debut from K-pop’s third generation (2012-2018). While nine years is a long time in the industry, if their Oakland performance is any indication, Mamamoo shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

A special thanks to the concert organizers for inviting us at Popsori to cover the event as press / media.

For another good read on the Mamamoo Oakland concert, check out Todd Inoue’s review at the SF Chronicle.

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