[Musings] Dreams Do Come True ~ OnlyOneOf in Chicago

Even though the winds this past week have diminished a bit in my K-pop sails, I did prepare this post about my OnlyOneOf concert experience and want to publish it before they end their Grand America Tour. If you are a K-pop stan, be extra kind to your ults, faves, not so faves as well as fellow fans and fandoms. We never know how much time we have in this realm and it will always be better spent being loving, tolerant and kind.

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I know. I have been mostly absent. Quite a bit absent, to be honest. Even with a relatively active K-pop concert schedule in 2022, I never felt the push to sit down and write about any of those experiences, even when they were off the chain fantastic – I’m looking at you CIX and Monsta X!! But the sheer miracle of OnlyOneOf putting together a US tour, AND coming to my city, has moved me in ways that I can only describe as miraculous. I have to talk about it, share some pics and video footage because it was THAT fantastic.

I’m down there somewhere!

In January 2023, it was announced that OnlyOneOf would embark upon their very first North and South American tour, the Grand America Tour. Not going to lie, I checked the skies to see if pigs were indeed flying! I never (EVER) expected the group to tour. Call me skeptical, but I honestly did not think they were going to be able to meet fans beyond South Korea and Japan. It did not seem that their agency, 8D Entertainment, had a vision for the group beyond Asia. Okay, I suppose we can blame the pandemic, especially since they only debuted in May 2019, and any global footing they did begin to gain was thwarted, like many groups. OnlyOneOf hit my radar back in December 2020 when dot point jump B-side PicassO, became one of the earliest songs to hit my Playlist Roulette series. I was blown away. Shortly thereafter, I became an official lyOn (fandom name), and dreamed, hoped, wished, created prayer circles, etc., they would tour and come to the US. It worked. They not only came to the US . . . on April 2nd, they came to my city, Chicago!

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And wait . . . not only was it a concert, there were benefits if one chose the VIP route. Oh yes, I survived a mini fan sign, hi touch and group photo. Listen, that’s a lot of time spent with a group and OnlyOneOf delivered a memorable experience every perk of the way. In fact, they were so wonderful on all fronts that I am still in the throes of post-concert depression three weeks later. We don’t have the group photos yet, and taking pics and/or videos was explicitly banned during the fan sign and hi touch. If I don’t look too ridiculous, I may come back and supplement this post with the group pic as the Junji-biased fan next to me and I both did hand hearts with him for the group picture. And let me tell you a little something about Kim Junhyung apart from the fact that he is absolutely gorgeous in person and a beast on stage.

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For the photos with the guys, we went in groups of ten. They were seated and we had to stand behind them with the exception of the two fans that were on the ends. They were asked to kneel down. Junji sat on one end, KB on the other. Whenever a fan in a skirt ended up having to kneel, Junji would turn his body towards that fan and stretch his long legs in front of the fan so as to keep her politely blocked when both kneeling, during the picture and when she stood up. This did not go unnoticed and so many fans I was standing around were flailing in admiration for that kind act of gentlemanly behavior. There were so many revelations for me that night about OnlyOneOf that I of course knew about but got to experience in the real, and cinnamon roll Junji was indeed one of them! OMG he is as endearing as he is sweet.

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Others included the absolute stage presence of Yoojung. Seriously, whenever he was in the center, I could not take my eyes off of him. Rie’s charming and incredibly delightful English. KB’s thoughtful sincerity. Mill’s bombastic energy. And Nine being Nine which is full on maknae-on-top energy. All this AND the incredible music and show. They opened with their latest track, seOul drift, and I knew then it was going to be quite a night and one to remember. I was going to share my own video but my recording skills leave much to be desired and many, MANY lyOns were recording and captured it well. When those lights went up . . . 💣💥

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Chicago lyOn were all in and the evening was absolutely electric. But I honestly have never heard a collective crowd combust like I did with OnlyOneOf’s gaslighting.

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How can a song titled ‘gaslighting‘ be anything BUT bombastic?!?! Anyway, the energy in the venue was like this for the entire show. If I had one complaint it would be that we did not get solo stages for each of the members. Recently the group released a series of 6 solo songs under their undergrOund idOl project. Even though they each had their own song, they were paired in groups of two creating three vignettes depicting love, lust, relationships, heartbreak, isolation, yearning and the like. All were captured in a series of MVs that were well-conceptualized and artistically filmed. To have an opportunity to see all six of the songs performed live would have been wonderful but each stop on the tour had two on the set list. In Chicago, we had KB’s be free and Nine’s beyOnd. The entire group joined the respective soloist during the performance and at one point, there was a moment when the soloist was joined by his vignette partner. So in Chicago, it was Yoojung with KB, and Mill with Nine. By the way, out of all six, Nine’s beyOnd is my favorite. But . . . they are all fantastic.

be free:

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The BL concept that OnlyOneOf has utilized in several of their MVs – and this is just my opinion – is not some sensationalistic gimmick used to garner views, clicks or even speculation regarding the members’ own sexuality and/or preferences. The concept does very much set them apart from their K-pop counterparts. As progressive and accepting as some parts of the world are, same sex love is still pretty much taboo, especially in Korea. It was risky to take that conceptual route, but OnlyOneOf embraces it without fear or consequence. I find this kind of rebel rousing coming out of Korea unique and satisfying. They set out to bring something different to the table and are breaking barriers and championing tolerance as a result.

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The way I see it, OnlyOneOf’s use of a BL concept creates a foundation of bringing forth the idea of being authentically yourself no matter who you are and how you love. The concept not only gives voice and representation to very a marginalized community within K-pop fandoms, but to all of us who strive to be accepted, respected and loved for who we truly are.

The set list for the evening was perfect and I knew I would be satisfied on the title track front if they performed Sage which is my favorite from their second EP Line Sun Goodness – the short bridge of which is absolutely sublime. Rie and Junji killed it.

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Oh, and the gritty, provocative and menacing Skinz, from Instinct Part 2 was a full on attack.

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The entire evening was like being hit with a flamethrower because the men of OnlyOneOf were simply on fire!

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Towards the end of the show, I could tell everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) was waiting for the title track from their third EP Instinct Part 1,  libidO. Seriously, the anticipation was akin to burning lava waiting to burst through the rock and earth of a volcano. Controversial when it was released because of the suggestive MV and provocative choreography, the guys kept the party going to the point where none of us ever wanted this show to end.

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After all of the grit and intensity laced throughout their incredible set list (and I left out quite a few here), they ended the evening with the deliciously pop-infused, blOssOm, a playful B-side from their debut EP, dot point jump. As the show was nearing its close, it was the perfect track to simply let loose and have fun, and just engage with their Chicago lyOns.

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The entire vibe from waiting in line outside the venue, to waiting in line inside, the fan sign, hi touch and photo, to the actual concert itself was amazing. In fact, it was one of the, if not THE most feel good shows I have been to as a K-pop fan. Of course, the fact that the group toured in the first place was cause for celebration alone. For real. Chicago was the second stop of their very full and busy tour which concludes at the end of April. They are currently in South America and will wrap up in the US with shows in Orlando, Florida, San Francisco and Los Angeles. If you can grab tickets to see them, I highly and very enthusiastically recommend. They are six very talented and gracious men who are absolutely thrilled to be on this tour, grueling as it may be. Moreover, they are loving every moment they are performing and getting to meet their international lyOn for the first (and hopefully not last) time!

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There are days when I feel I am approaching my K-pop concert expiration date, but will not deny that I would extend it for certain groups and OnlyOneOf is most definitely on that short list.

More scenes from the Chicago show:


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