Six months ago, you’d possibly find me reading a book, surfing through the web for the next Korean drama that I would be doing a marathon over the weekends or just randomly tweeting stuff. Because that is how I usually spend my down time.
Six months ago, if you said that I’d be hauling my ass off all the way from Albay just to watch a concert of a Korean boy group – I wouldn’t believe it and I’d tell you you’re crazy.
But life loves to play games and to surprise us in crazy ways.
I’m weird. I have this weird thinking that Korean dramas are enough for me and I don’t need to involve myself with Korean music. So prior to this, the only recent Korean songs that I listen to and know by heart are the ones featured in Korean dramas that I watch. I don’t even dare to get to know more and follow the activities of those artists who sang whichever. I just know them by name and the drama they’re associated with. In a sense, Korean music felt like a no go and been there, done that area for me. I stanned Super Junior back in the days but my fervor for Korean songs little by little waned. I’m blaming my younger self for that.
I thought that was the end of it.
I thought I was fully done with fawning over Korean idols.
Well, I thought wrong.
In just a span of six months (or let’s say, three months since the deets for EXO’rDIUM were announced in mid-December 2016), a lot of things happened and changed. How I felt for EXO, was as easy as hook, line and sinker. There was something about their group that made me want to stan, protect, support and love them.
From a non EXO-L, I became a full-blown “I need to attend their concert, oh god I’m gonna die if I don’t” EXO-L. Crazy. I didn’t expect to reach this level of being a fan of them in such a short span of time. But I remembered my Mother telling me over dinner, “Ganyan ka talaga noh, kapag naging fan ka hardcore. All in.” In my defense though, yes I easily become a fan of someone but what happened here with EXO – only happened twice in my fangirl life (for Jonas Brothers and One Direction). There are other artists that I listen to and appreciate but I can still pass up the opportunity of attending their concert.
With EXO, my want and need to see them perform live equaled to Jonas Brothers and One Direction. Now, I can proudly say that I’ve been to the concerts of my three faves.
Basically I reverted to all things Korean and this time really made an effort to learn and dig deeper about the must-know things. Especially about the music industry. On how things work, how they promote in music shows and variety shows and a lot more. My fascination towards Korea is really in an all-time high at this point.
On how I got started with EXO, let’s talk about that in another blog post. I’d have to fast forward to 02.26.17 D-Day to tell you more about how my first KPop concert experience went.
With the limited knowledge (mostly based from my observation thru tweets and when I roamed around Araneta the day before) that I have on how Kpop concerts are held, I went a bit early on the venue to get the entire concert hype going. I met up with my online friend, Lauren, for the first time. She became an EXO-L around the same time that I became one and so we somewhat already have a certain bond. We’ve been exchanging messages and fangirling over EXO for months and I’m sure that I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect concert buddy at that. We also met up with some of her friends and an EXO-L who was wandering around alone. We became a small group of EXO-Ls from there. To be honest, you could be friends with everybody in the vicinity. Open a certain topic, I’m sure someone would approach and chat with you.
Before EXO, I know nothing about and how huge of a deal cloth banners, photocards and cheering kits are. So when the fanbases and Twitter people started to tweet about cheering kits, I was overwhelmed with it. I went crazy over it. I gladly checked out each designs & inclusions per bundle and picked which one I should purchase. It’s not actually a must to buy one but as a newbie, I want some items that will remember me of my EXO’rDIUM experience. Here are some of the goods that I pre-ordered and ended up getting at the venue:
Cherish Kyoong Cloth Banner, Fan and Photocard set by onlaymon on Twitter.
Baekhyun scotch name tag from BaekSoo Philippines (BSPH).
Not included in the picture are the Baekhyun drawstring bag from BSPH, the Chromatique9 Baekhyun shirt from EXO Philippines (still needed to be shipped since they ran out of stock during D2) and the random EXO shirt that I purchased in search of something to wear for the concert.
Some friends told and warned me that KPop concerts are a huge fanfare.
That statement is true.
I’ve witnessed everything unfold before my very eyes. Concert producers down to the fanbase are exerting a lot of effort just deliver everything to perfection and make EXO (and EXO-Ls) feel well-loved and supported here in the country. EXO Philippines x in collaboration with the different individual fanbases prepared Day 1 and Day 2 fanprojects. As a announced on Twitter, they’ll be giving away fan project and individual member banners.
With those goods out of the way, Lauren and I focused our attention in looking for the fan project banners and Twitter giveaways.
Walk, check Twitter, run, fall in line and figured out a way to eat brunch amidst all that. Despite the data connection and the weather being a pain, that EXO and EXO-L madness was a cool experience and something that I would really treasure. We were able to at least collect the D2 fan project banner (Iniirog kita, bes.), a Baekhyun, Xiumin, Jongin, Chanyeol and Sehun banners. I was also able to collect some Baekhyun fans, photocards, slogans, EXO photocards and HunLay polaroids. The tote bag that I stashed in my backpack became a huge help.
At 2pm, we pulled away ourselves from the sea of people and proceeded to print our e-tickets once again because it all got scrunched up. We then changed our shirts and freshened up for a bit. But once we got back in the venue, they were already starting to form lines in preparation for the gates to open. I can basically feel everyone buzzing with excitement. My hands were so damn cold and on the inside I was quite shaky. I was repeatedly saying, “This is it. Just a few more steps and we’ll be inside. Just a few more hours and I’m going to see them already.” Saying that repeatedly, helped me convince myself that it is happening for real. Even though a month has passed since I was able to secure myself a ticket, I still had a hard time believing that I would be seeing and hearing them perform live. I think, it has something to do with how fast everything went and how surreal the situation is.
Gates opened, EXO-Ls poured inside the venue with squeals and cheers heard from every corner of the concert venue. Once seated at Section 401, the final waiting game started.
With about two hours and half to kill, EXO-Ls find different ways to entertain themselves. There were endlessly chats here and there and getting to know the people seating near the vicinity. But the two things that I enjoyed the most during pre-concert were the instances: when people sang along to various EXO songs like Peter Pan and Don’t Go and when they started out chanting the names of the members (Zhang Yixing! I want to cry when we were chanting his name.) Even the ships. The General Admission people were the best and clever ones, though. With the fun we were having, time sneaked up on us and fastly approached to…
EXO’rDIUM in Manila kicked off with a VCR subbed in Tagalog. I’m sorry but I really bursted out laughing during that. Deafening screams and cheers filled the venue. I screamed my lungs out as well. This is really is it. They’re about to appear in front me!
And when they did, it was such a glorious moment. They opened the show with MAMA, which is EXO’s debut song. The cheers for them even overpowered their voices. That’s how loud and crazy everyone is.
MAMA which was followed by Monster and Wolf. So imagine how the screams just kept on getting louder and louder as one song transition to another. Everybody was on their feet, singing, doing the fan chants, screaming, squealing, taking photos or videos and on the other hand waving their lightsticks. How I actually managed to capture photos amidst all of those things, I really don’t know. Or I might as well just say that these are my lucky shots.
After their first three songs, the boys lined up and individually took time to talk to their fans for their opening ment. Laughter, cheers from the crowd and possibly all were swooning over the words each members were uttering. I still can’t believe that I was a part of that specific crowd that they’re saying those words to.
After the ment, the boys proceeded to perform another set of songs and I believe that this is the set that EXO-Ls were highly anticipating. Hello, killer songs and moves! Screams and fangirl high-pitched squeals can be heard in the coliseum. The songs included were White Noise, Thunder, Playboy and Artificial Love. Sinful body waves in the choreo and cane as a prop during their Artificial Love stage..someone call the doctor because everybody’s burning up.
One of my highly anticipated performances were Thunder and Artifical Love. I’m so blessed that Byun Baekhyun, my ultimate bias, performed it on the extended stage and right in front of our section. How lucky could this fangirl get.
VCR is once again played while the boys changed their outfits for the next part of the concert. Unfair came up next in which everyone was just being playful on stage with cabinets, doors and phone as props.
But as soon as it ended, their acoustic medley session began. The medley included the songs My Lady, My Turn to Cry, Moonlight, Call Me Baby, Love, Love, Love and a portion of Lady Luck. Just when you thought that KPop concerts couldn’t get intimate and EXO does this. The session paved way to hear each of their soulful and swoon-worthy voices while fans sing along with them. It was a moment to behold and definitely one of my favorite parts of the concert.
The other half of Lady Luck was performed in it’s original version and followed by an emotional song, What If. Just when you’re about to burst into tears EXO changed it up with Tender Love, their hit single, Love Me Right, and One and Only. I enjoyed their Tender Love performance so much because if I remember it correctly, this was the first song that lightstick movements were really involved. I thought I would be awkward while holding my lightstick but it was actually fun participating and seeing the people around me doing it too.
Here we have, EXO’s vocal line in it’s full glory. They tore the house down with their powerful, stable and beautiful vocals as they sing Stronger. The high notes they belted out each earned gasps applause and truly left fans in awe.
After being quite serious, here comes this adorable segment wherein EXO turned into uber cute fairies. I just want to keep them inside my pocket and be constantly with them. Heaven, Girl x Friend and 3.6.5 were the songs next on the set list. During that time I placed my phone inside my bag, enjoyed the moment, sang along with them and got crazy with my lightstick together with my fellow EXO-Ls. Everybody was jumping up and down like energized bunnies.
Overdose, Transformer and Lightsaber were the three songs that have a solid choreography and I’ve been anticipating as well. Especially, Lightsaber. No water stage for the Philippine leg of the tour but witnessing their dance break for that song was enough for me. It was beyond amazing how all of a sudden the lights went out and it was them bringing back color in the venue through their lightsabers. I love how they played around and showcased their lightsaber skills.
It was lit. Wait, way beyond LIT. EXO turned Araneta into a huge club and I’ve got no other words to perfectly describe it. I just know that the energy from the previous sets doubled, tripled or even quadrupled.
The songs included in this part were Do It Together, Full Moon, Drop That, Lucky and Run. Coolest of the cool.
All good things must come to an end and by that means EXO’rDIUM’s encore. They closed their show with their classic hit, Growl, followed with the energetic, Lucky One and one of their emotional songs, Angel.
To the say that I had extreme fun is an understatement. For my first KPop concert, it was beyond perfect and something that I will truly (truly, truly) never forget.
February 26, 2017 marked the day when I officially became part of EXO’s silver ocean.
The day when I became part of the most passionate group of people that I’d have known.
The day when I can fully tell myself that I belong here.
This is my family.
EXO’rDIUM gave each of the members an equal time to shine, to showcase their skills and to reach out to their fans.What you hear in their studio album is basically how their vocals are live. Their stage presence and dancing were really something. It is always a step up from their previous performances. They give their 100% heart and soul to it and I’m very blessed to have witnessed it.
It is also true that we became even closer and we have all of their ments (and EXO x PH EXO-Ls inside jokes) as a proof of how much EXO had fun here in the Philippines and how much they love us. The feeling is mutual, EXO. We love you as much or even more than you do.
So thank you to every single person behind this event: Inang, Amang, Pulp HQ, SM Entertainment, EXO Philppines, individual fanbases and the rest. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You gave me something that I would always have a special place in my heart.
My love for EXO became even stronger upon seeing and hearing them perform live. No matter what, I cannot unstan them and I’ll always have this experience and blog post as a remembrance of how I fiercely love them.
Until my next blog post… Bye! With my ramblings, I hope I was also able to give pointers to some of you who’re planning to watch KPop concerts for the first time.