I flew down to LA on Saturday, May 5th, to see my friends perform at the KTMF. I am usually not one to splurge on a flight just to see friends in LA, that’s what Facebook stalking is for, but this was a special case since they were flying all the way over from Korea and I’m pretty sure it would never happen again. And I had a free concert ticket. You can’t get a free ticket and just not go, that ruins the whole point of the ticket being free. Let’s disregard the fees (flight, car rental, food, etc.) that tagged along.
I’ll say right off the bat that I love Southwest and their flexible cancellation policy. I was able to use the credits I had from a previous cancellation toward this one, and it was a big help considering I had to book this flight pretty late. Plus there’s no penalty fee. That’s a big win in my book (I’m looking at you JetBlue!).
This wasn’t my first time flying down to LA, I had just gone a couple weeks before, but it would be the first time I’d be flying down and renting a car on my own. I am not a bad driver, but I’m always nervous about driving a car that isn’t mine, and having to drive in LA’s notorious traffic to boot gets me out of my comfort zone.
I was berating myself earlier for not having booked an earlier Southwest flight while it was still around $80 for a Saturday morning flight. I eventually had to opt for a 4PM arrival time to save money, but I had read somewhere that the concert started around 6PM and my friends were on at 6:30 so I was frantic that I wouldn’t get there in time to see them on stage.
I got a mid-sized car from Hertz because I’m paranoid about getting cheated if I opt for a cheaper and smaller car rental company, and because I get a discount. I decided to register myself as a Hertz Gold member as well, because why not? It’s free, you get points, faster rental process. Apparently shuttles for bigger car rental companies come by more often at LAX, and it worked last time, since the Hertz shuttle came in 5 minute intervals. This time though, there was apparently a backup and I had to wait about 15 minutes before my shuttle came. I think I saw the Advantage shuttle fly by three times. Do note that for first time Hertz Gold members, you still need to go to the office so you can get your credit card verified. I pulled up to the gate to exit with the car, and they had me circling back again to enter my credit card information into the system. From now on though, I can just get in the car and drive off without having to deal with employees who look less than thrilled to be there. Customer service with a smile.
My car of choice was the Hyundai Elantra. I’m so used to driving around an old Toyota Camry that it was like sitting in the cockpit of a spaceship, with all this advanced technology surrounding me. Fine, I admit it. When I say “advanced,” I mean when I plugged in my phone to charge it started playing music on the car speakers. In fairness, I had to resort to blasting my phone’s speakers on the Toyota, so this phone hooking up to car scenario was a magical thing. However, I’m not pleased with the steering, the wheel is way too light. And the tiny side windows and narrow rear window took some getting used to. I didn’t get the add-on navigation (because Google Maps rocks) but later I realized I didn’t have a phone holder. So for a good part of the trip I was leaning forward with the left hand on the steering wheel and right hand propping my iPhone against the AC vents.
Parking at the Hollywood Bowl
I’m big on planning ahead when it comes to traveling alone, and I am glad I did. I was weighing my options in terms of parking. I could do the park and ride that the Hollywood Bowl offers, but all their parking locations were out of the way and I didn’t want to be at the mercy of packed shuttles once the concert was over. The final two options were to park in a parking garage at Hollywood/Highland (just get it validated, so like the price of a coffee or a banana or whatever you can buy at the shopping center there), or at United Methodist Church ($10). I opted for the latter, because it can be all sorts of hell trying to get out of a packed parking garage, and the church doesn’t do stacked parking, so you can rev outta there without having to wait for cars to back out of your way first. I do admit, it’s a slight slight uphill walk to get to the Hollywood Bowl entrance, I’d say a solid 15 minutes with no dawdling, but totally worth it.
I got to experience firsthand the unholy terror of traffic to a concert location. What should’ve taken 40 minutes to do LAX→Hollywood Bowl stretched into a good hour and half. Thank goodness for air conditioning and music. They kept my back from soaking the car seat. And that’s when I still parked some blocks away from the Hollywood Bowl, I just continued shaking my head at the cars lining up to get their overpriced Hollywood Bowl parking. I don’t understand them, I really don’t. Is it a status thing? Showing off that you can afford parking? Or just ignorance?
Meeting the girls
Now, for those of you who are hoping to get a full recap of all the performances for the Korea Times Music Festival, you’re in the wrong blog, because I have no idea what happened for the majority of the concert. I arrived at 6:45PM, I think the concert started officially around 6:30PM? Still time to watch the performances. But that’s not what I was there for, I was there to see my friends. So I messaged one of them and soon her manager came out to get me and escorted me behind the lines to their dressing room.
Big hugs all around, we were all extremely happy to see each other and at the same time it was just strange that I was actually seeing them in America. I spotted a box of In-N-Out burgers on the table, and nodded in satisfaction. Check that one off the must-haves when visiting California. First thing first of course, they immediately offered me a drink of my choice, considerate beings that they are, and demanded that I relax by taking one of the few chairs available.
I ended up just chilling there until 8:30PM, and left when they started getting ready to head out for their performance. During that time, there was a lot of picture taking, talking, laughing, talking.
They were kind enough to give me a ticket so I could watch their performance, and it was a really good seat. Not to the point of being able to see their pores, but remarkably closer than any other concert seat I’ve ever had. Scratch that, I did have a pretty good seat at the Beast concert. Namedrop! I got myself seated and I felt like I was back in Korea again, just absolutely surrounded by Koreans/Korean-Americans, young and old. An older lady was singing beautifully on stage when I got seated, and the dear old grannies and grampies in the audience were swaying to the music, just taking it in. Then the next performers were EXID. I was quite curious about them actually, they had a huge surge in popularity because of that viral video for some Up Down performance. They performed their songs, talked, performed Up Down. It’s certainly catchy and the crowds loved it, but I was primarily curious about their popularity versus APink’s (grammar!). I had heard that APink held a solid spot in terms of popularity in Korea, despite not appearing on many variety programs, but I always had trouble associating them as being a big deal and having fans that stalked and adored them.
I was nervous and feeling very competitive, as I want my friends to be the best and have a bigger fanbase than EXID. No hate on EXID, of course, I’m sure they work hard, but we all want our friends to be #1, otherwise you’re not a good friend and need to sort your priorities. The moment the host of the evening announced APink as the next performers is when I realized just how popular they were. The screams from the crowd were INSANE. Apparently I had underestimated their popularity.
They performed their token songs like NoNoNo, Luv, and Mr. Chu, and also had a little talk in between. It was cringeworthy and at the same time endearing to hear some of the members try a few English phrases, and I’m sure the fans just swallowed it all up.
I think what I felt when I watched APink perform would probably be akin to the feelings of a mother bird as she watches her little chicks plummet headfirst to their deaths before getting control of their wings and saving their little asses from becoming a feathery splat on the ground. tl;dr I braced myself for the worst and was rewarded with the complete opposite.
As soon as the lights dimmed on the APink performance, I got up and hightailed it out of there to beat the crowds. I walked back to the church parking lot, and was able to navigate myself home without any problems, didn’t have to deal with Hollywood Bowl traffic at all. I had promised one of the members beforehand that we would meet after their performance was over, so I headed to my friend’s apartment to drop off my travel bag (I had gone straight to the Hollywood Bowl from the airport) and wait until I heard from Naeun (name drop!).
We checked out the Urban Light at LACMA at midnight
Followed up by a taco truck which, according to Bryan is around Olympic and La Brea with a question mark.
This post is just a recap of my experience at KTMF, so you’ll have to wait until next time for… well for everything else I did in LA that weekend. And who knows, I may update this post again with more pictures and videos. Of myself. Eating a sandwich. Stay tuned.