A music concert bridged with a cultural expo in the heart of Las Vegas. This was a new experience that American K-pop fans and foodies could only dream of.
WeBridge would be that new experience.
Debuting on April 21-23, 2023 WeBridge is created by Infinite Prospects Entertainment (IPE) to bridge Asian music and its culture together. As described on the official WeBridge Expo website, the event was designed to be “one part music concert, one part cultural expo.”
The K-pop section would feature high-touch events between fan and K-pop stars during the day. At night, two day concert would be end each day.
Outside of music, foodies can find themselves eating some great Asian food and boba. After consuming some delicacies at the food stalls, visitors can check out Asian-inspired art, fashion and clothing.
There was also a small arcade section, with the main highlight being a free-play DDR Supernova machine.
Here is my three day experience at WeBridge, K-pop’s newest US expo as media.
Day 1 (Fri): A new expo is born
The expo started off on Friday at 10:00 am. When the doors finally opened, visitors were funneled through a spacious hallway. Cut outs of the nine K-pop artists attending WeBridge adorned the path:
After taking pictures with the cut outs, the hallway soon opened up. There were clothing stores, an area that teaches K-poppers new dances, and a studio to take glamour pictures.
There were walls where fans can write messages on. Some of the messages written were about Moon Bin, the former Astro singer that died by suicide last week. Fans gave their condolences to the singer, hoping that other K-pop stars take care of their mental health and that future tragedies can be prevented in the future. The other walls were quite bare and being painted on during the expo. Many people watched the artists lather paint on the white walls to create their art.
Their art would fully be complete on Sunday.
Going further inside the expo, a K-pop stall run by K-pop Nation was set up, full of K-pop albums, photo cards, and light sticks. I would later find out that this stall was only the satellite stall and a much bigger K-pop Nation stall was just up ahead. K-pop nation actually had two booths set up and as the day went on, both stores would be flooded with fans. I’m sure K-pop Nation did extremely well from a profit standpoint.
Going to the main stage, it was quite sparse at first, with only a few fans present. Some reasons were that people were still flying into Las Vegas and people had work or school on Friday. Yet, the biggest reason is most likely because there weren’t any idols yet. When the idols’ came on for their artist engagement and hi-touch, starting with Kang Daniel, the fans started to grow. When Dreamcatcher showed up, the fans resembled a sizable crowd, complete with the group’s light sticks.
By the time the last group arrived for hi-touch event, Monsta X, the crowd became a throng. The cheering became deafening, as the members and translator was hard to hear through the constant cheers. Every time each member spoke, fans would often shout “I love you <member>!” or a loud cheer. This showed the intense, insane side of the K-pop fandom.
In the late afternoon, artists lined up at the red carpet area to take pictures. It was great seeing the artists up close, talking to the media, and taking photos of them.
After the red carpet event, the first of the two day concert kicked off at Michelob Ultra Arena. The concert actually started off somber, as MC and actor Park Yuri asked the audience to honor the passing of Astro’s Moon Bin. Park would tell the audience, “I want you all to raise up your phones with the lights on, and can we please have a moment of silence.” After about a good minute and a half of silent mourning, the concert was underway.
Male groups CIX and ONEUS, female group Dreamcatcher, solo singer Kang Daniel, female rapper Jessi, and headliner Monsta X would round out Day 1.
Kang Daniel was a treat to watch. In between performances, he would be eager to talk to the audience, but was out of breath. He would joke to his fans, drink some water, and go another round with his next song.
Monsta X as the headliner was, as expected, met with thunderous applause. The amount of Monsta X fans in the stadium was staggering, as many fans flew out across the country just for them. They had some electric performances and brought the house down on opening night.
Jessi was perhaps the highlight of the first day. As great as it was to hear “Nunu Nana” and “Zoom,” her caring for her fans were apparent from the start. She proclaimed to the audience that they’re on a tight schedule, “but f**k it,” and spent some time with her fans. Multiple times during her set, she would go into the crowd to hug an adoring fan, sign a T-shirt, or just shout out a fan, showing incredible compassion rarely seen in the K-pop industry.
Day 2 (Sat): The craziness of fans
The following day would be predictably, the most crowded. After arriving at the convention and going through the maze of the cut outs, there was a lot more fans in the morning. The food stalls were packed, the K-pop Nation stores always had a line, and the main stage had fans waiting for their favorite artists.
Bam Bam from GOT7 would kick things off as the first artist engagement event. Fans were there from the onset to greet the famed singer. One funny moment was when Bam Bam said that his new song “Sour and Sweet” was named due to two reasons: he didn’t know the order was “Sweet and Sour” and he wanted to rank higher on the YouTube search algorithm with his titled version. He didn’t want his song to lose out to search results to the Chinese dish “Sweet and Sour.”
After all, who’s going to search up “Sour and Sweet”? After Bam Bam’s song, a lot of fans.
VIVIZ also had a high-touch, yet SinB and Umji would sit out of this fan event, as well as the red carpet. The VIVIZ members were distraught with Moon Bin’s passing, as they considered him a close friend. The third member, Eunha, would go solo and do the high-touch.
When Enhypen came out, much like the Monsta X artist engagement yesterday, the cheering was at an all-time high. The artists were hard to hear, as the fan chants and “I love you” screams were at an all-time high for the event.
During the second night of the concert, rapper BE’O would open the festivities. The rapper would say that this was his first time in Las Vegas and wanted to perform so badly in front of his international fans.
ONEUS would perform for a second night in a row, the only group to work double duty. With the enthusiasm, their slick dance moves, and their quirky personalities, the group is rising in popularity among US fans. There were some ONEUS T-shirts and fan signs among the audience.
When Enhypen came out, the K-pop fans came out in droves. Fans came out to cheer each of their songs. By the time they finished their final song and the expected encore, the confetti began to fall to close out the concert’s finale.
WeBridge’s two day concert came to an end.
Day 3 (Sun): Wrapping the expo
In comparison to the past two days, the third day was a lot more relaxed. The day was mostly about networking and doing last-minute purchases.
While the last day was relatively tame, there were two artist engagements: BE’O and Jessi.
As expected, Jessi would be the main headliner, as fans began to grow to see the famed rapper. Many fans took selfies with her, had her sign albums and T-shirts, and one even had Jessi sign her chest. Originally, Jessi was scheduled to do both a longer meet-and-greet and a short hi-touch. Yet, the meet-and-greet went longer than expected, so the staff decided to cancel the hi-touch.
The last day didn’t have as many fans, nor many journalists or creators at the event. Many of them had to fly out of Las Vegas in the morning.
Visiting the art walls, the walls were now fully fleshed out. There were a lot more signatures on the wall, as well as the other walls’ paint being finished.
As the day came closer to 5:00 pm — the last day’s closing time — WeBridge would officially be finished. The event was well-run for its debut with no major hiccups, showing that there’s room for more Asian-focused events in the US.
See you next year WeBridge.