Winner is a four-member boy band from South Korea, and I became a fan of them after watching their journey on a reality-tv survival series called WIN: Who Is Next? For this series, talent management and label YG Entertainment split their trainees into Team A and Team B, to compete for the chance to officially debut as a band, challenging their skills as dancers, choreographers, singers, rappers, songwriters, and producers. Team A made some incredible music while on the program, such as their remake of Tamia’s “Officially Missing You,” which turned the heartbreak hit into a song about missing their former selves from younger days. Their original song “Smile Again,” preceded their debut, solidifying their place in the K-pop industry.
In 2014, Team A became Winner, and officially released their debut album Winner S/S. I have been hoping for their visit to the West Coast since, perhaps to K-CON or a small show in Los Angeles. Between 2014 and their San Francisco concert that took place last Friday at the Masonic, they’ve lost a band member. However, the experience of seeing them perform live was incredible. Their Everywhere Tour performance line-up omitted a lot of songs from their earlier days when they still had their fifth member, but they are proving to be doing just fine, and making a genuine effort to connect with their fans.
They were so interactive with the audience, making sure to engage with people in the pit, as well as the second floor. They even interviewed someone on the second floor, before Kang Seungyoon realized how difficult it was to have answers yelled back. The second floor fan said his favorite song is “Go Up,” from their survival program, to which Seungyoon replied in disbelief: “Of ALL our new music, that’s your favorite??” The official San Francisco Inner Circle fan-made mini-banners also made their way to the front, which included a birthday message and a wish for the members to stay healthy and well, which Seungyoon read aloud to our delight.
In addition to performances from their new album EVERYD4Y (2018) and from OUR TWENTY FOR (2017), they included their new hit single, “Millions,” and solo performances. Hoony performed a cover of Taeyang’s “Ringa Linga,” and the audience went crazy as soon as we heard the first three words. Personally, I loved Winner’s first S/S album the most, and I had hoped to hear more of it, but I’ll settle for the two songs that they did perform- “Empty” and “Don’t Flirt.” Their stage set up was also amazing, with moving screen panels that doubled as a backdrop and doors that opened for stairs.
Winner’s energy, manners, graciousness, vocals, silliness, and boldness in asking the second floor to get on their feet, are all parts of their personalities that we love so much. The show was packed with energy, incredible wardrobe, and lots of love for the fans. Thank you to Kris Cruz for the tickets and sharing this experience with me!