There’s a new KPOP convention in town and it’s taking over Las Vegas. The first annual We Bridge Expo took place April 21-23 at Mandalay Bay and Atlas was in the middle of all the action with some of the biggest KPOP artists in the world. From the convention floor featuring Korean art, food and interactive activities to the Grammy Museum stage with industry panels and artist interviews, check out all the highlights from day one!
Artist Spotlights and Performances
The Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum sponsored the main stage inside the convention center expo hall and had artist appearances throughout the day. Attendees clustered around to hear Kangdaniel open the day with a lighthearted interview that included fan questions and a hi-touch meet and greet.
The rest of the day included interviews from CIX and Dreamcatcher- both of whom performed a song for the fans as well. The expo hall echoed with the sounds of delighted screaming as both groups also took the time for meet and greets. We rounded out a full day of expo activities with a highly anticipated appearance by supergroup Monsta X.
Live Painting and Expo Activities
Between artist performances, attendees wandered the halls of the expo itself. The floor boasted artists painting in real time, creating huge, colorful murals as awestruck onlookers observed. In the corner, aspiring idols took dance lessons to learn the choreography for some of the expo artists’ biggest hits.
It was a memorable and admittedly exhausting day, but fans poured out of the expo hall with plenty of time to make their way to the arena for the night’s concert.
ONEUS, Jessi and Monsta X Steal the Show
It wouldn’t be a proper KPOP festival without a plethora of performers showcasing their best live skills and We Bridge Expo delivered with this lineup. Friday’s concert began on a somber note as MC Yuri Park held a long moment of silence in memory of ASTRO’s Moonbin who had passed away earlier that week. With so many idols in his circle of friends, the groups were visibly affected by the loss and bravely powered through energetic performances even with that weight looming over the industry.
CIX was properly impressive as the night’s opening act, showing off their sensual moves and fan favorite songs “Like It That Way” and “Cinema”. The blinding white outfits reflected every color of the rainbow in the lights and had the crowd on their feet to kick off a great night.
ONEUS was the only group on the lineup to perform both nights of the concert schedule and they were clearly determined to stand out. True to form, their consistency and incredible synchronized choreography was a highlight of the evening. The inescapably catchy “Black Mirror” and “Same Scent” had the fans’ screams reaching ear splitting levels in the surprisingly intimate Michelob Ultra Arena.
Rock-inspired Dreamcatcher provided the middle card of the lineup and their tight dance moves and powerful vocals had the crowd headbanging and dancing along. Each member brought their own flavor to the set- energy levels were high as we approached the end of the evening.
Solo acts took up the direct support slots, with Kangdaniel reappearing to give us the “Antidote” for our exhaustion and have everyone “Ready to Ride” into the final sets of the night. He was followed by the queen herself, Jessi.
Emerging in an intricate outfit and fresh from Rolling Loud Thailand, Jessi brought the sass and the fan service to We Bridge. Her larger than life personality turned night one’s concert into the Jessi show and absolutely no one wanted her to leave that stage. From reading fans’ handcrafted signs, leaving the stage to autograph custom shirts and simply being herself, she completely won any section of the room that wasn’t already enamored with her. And of course, in between all of that, we sang our hearts out to “Zoom In” and “Nunu Nana”. Coordinators practically had to chase her off the stage but we’d have been thrilled if she kept going as long as she wanted.
Monsta X may currently be down to four members as two are currently serving their mandatory military enlistment, but Joohoney, Kihyun, Hyungwon and I.M. gave us everything they had for their headlining performance. Opening with “You Problem” is a flex only a group with their discography could dream of doing and fans raised their lightsticks and voices to match the vibe they were giving us.
They spent little time talking to the audience but with everything that transpired in the past few weeks, everyone was just happy to give something back to the members. The quartet powered through a short set, closing night one with “Burning Up”, “Zone” and a shower of confetti.
It was a thrilling conclusion to the first night of this major event and attendees exited into the neon of the Las Vegas Strip to prepare for the rest of a wild weekend.
Check out all the photos from day one!
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photos by Olivia Khiel and Peter Byun