JJ Lin 林俊傑 - "By Your Side" Concert at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles

This past weekend, two of my high school friends and I met up in San Diego to catch up, eat good food, and (most importantly) attend JJ Lin's "By Your Side" concert in Los Angeles on February 21st.

Some backstory: a few months ago, one of my friends made a totally offhand comment about how we should go to a JJ Lin concert if he ever came to the U.S. (The three of us are all casual JJ Lin fans, as in we like the majority of his music and would definitely pick some of his songs at karaoke, but none of us knows any of his songs by heart or owns a physical copy of his albums.) We all agreed in the joking "haha, of course it'll never happen" manner.

Fast-forward to early January, when I happen to pass by a Chinese bookstore and see a poster advertising JJ Lin's concert in Reno. Since it was scheduled for February 14th and I already had plans (anime convention, nothing romantically related at all LOL), I texted my friend something along the lines of "JJ Lin's performing in Reno on Valentine's Day. If you find yourself a boyfriend before then, you should go." Still, of course, maintaining the joking "haha, of course it'll never happen" tone.

Long story short: my friend found out about the LA concert taking place a week after, we hurriedly bought the cheapest tickets possible and booked plane tickets to SD (where our other friend was letting us crash), and the joke about going to a JJ Lin concert became true.

I'd read some negative reviews on Ticketmaster about JJ's previous concerts in the U.S., so I entered LA's Shrine Auditorium with a little trepidation, but JJ blew all of those worries completely out of the water. It was an amazing concert. As I wrote on my Weibo mini-review, "10/10, would go again."

I think the best part of the show, apart from the thrill of just hearing JJ Lin sing live, was seeing how easily JJ moved between Mandarin and English. As an American-born Chinese, I have always felt most comfortable with the "Chinglish" language, i.e. Chinese and English thrown together, sometimes in ways that don't entirely make sense. It was just so cool seeing JJ embrace both languages, especially since this was a Chinese concert taking place in the U.S.

Another awesome thing about the show was that JJ included lyrics on the two side screens! This is actually kind of funny because my friends and I were scrambling to learn at least the chorus to the first single from JJ's new album after realizing we didn't know a single song by heart. Turns out we didn't need to worry about it at all HAHAHA. This part also made me happy that I had minored in Chinese in college because the lyrics were all in simplified Chinese, which I would not been able to read had it not been for my Chinese minor. Yay, education.

Anyway, enough about my feelings. Here are some rambling thoughts about the concert! All of the fancams I've embedded are courtesy of YanisRei on YouTube, unless otherwise noted.

* The show started pretty punctually, if you take into consideration concert time and Asian time. It was scheduled to start around 8pm, and JJ appeared on stage a few minutes before half-past eight. Cue lots of screaming.

* The concert lasted a good two hours, and JJ was really good about connecting each song to the next with music or just talking, so it never seemed to drag. There was this cool bit where he pretended we were all sitting around a campfire at a local park. This worked perfectly for his acoustic set, which included his super cute song "Perfect Match" (豆漿油條). I love how he led into this song by talking about snacks because the song title literally translates to "Soy Milk and Chinese Donut" -- everyone, and I mean everyone, knew what song he was talking about before he even said the title.

* JJ didn't perform my two all-time favorite songs from him ("Still Miss Her" (我還想她) and "Lord Vader" (黑武士), both from his Sixology album), but he sang so many goodies that I can forgive that. The encore was particularly spectacular because I was only expecting him to sing two, maybe three, songs after we called him back to the stage. He ended up singing so many I lost count.

* Funniest parts from the concert:
(1) when JJ called out a male fan for flashing him, and then quickly clarified that he doesn't want fans to flash him -- even funnier is that the same male fan commented on the YouTube video I'm embedding below

(2) when JJ talked about eating at a well-known LA restaurant called Eggslut -- I had to do a double take the first time he said it because the word "slut" just didn't register

(3) when JJ sang the song "Smiling Eyes" (愛笑的眼睛) and went off-stage to interact with fans -- you can see him getting mobbed in the video below while security tries desperately to keep him safe. I have to admit, this was a strange choice for an audience-interaction song because it's about a breakup -- the lyrics literally say, "It's only after I left you that I discovered my smiling eyes."

(4) when JJ called his piano his wife -- it's not in the video below, which is of him covering Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud," but it happened right before, and I actually got it on video myself, which I uploaded to my Facebook but can't be bothered uploading to YouTube. Basically, JJ talks about how we feel more relaxed in front of people we know, e.g. our husband. Then he goes, "When I'm with my wife" -- and here he pets his piano lovingly -- "lots of things happen."

(Thanks to alli c for the video.)

It's bedtime for me, so I'm going to close this post with two more video embeds. There's probably a lot I wanted to say that I forgot to include. I guess I'll just have to go to another one of his concerts in the future! Hehe.

(1) "Remember" (記得) -- mostly sharing because you can hear his voice/piano so well on this song, even though the video quality isn't that great

(2) "River South" (江南) -- classic JJ Lin ballad from his second album. He closed the concert with this song.