This noona is a K-Pop virgin no more!
Getting bitten by the K-Pop bug just a little over two months ago (I’m blaming SHINee for this), I have to say that my “initiation” to the wonderfully vibrant world of Korean pop music came sooner than I thought. It happened during the Manila leg of rookie guy group SEVENTEEN’s Shining Diamonds: 1st Asia Pacific Tour, and boy did I have a great time!
Attending the second show of SEVENTEEN in Manila (Monday, 15 August), I expected The Theatre at Solaire Resorts and Casino to be less packed than the previous day, and – according to the theater personnel – it was. However, nothing could beat the spirit of hundreds of fans or “Carats” (the group’s official fandom name), whose excitement pulsed through the polished halls as though it was just the first day of the fan meet.
Hours before the show, Carats – mostly girls in their pre-teens to early twenties – had already formed a thick line in the lobby, as they eagerly waited for the main theater to open its doors. Believe me, if there was an Olympic event for the test of patience, fangirls would easily bag all the gold.
Every now and then, they would take turns to write a dare for SEVENTEEN’s members (to be used later during the show) on a board covered with sticky notes.
They would also leave the line briefly to check out the table set up for SEVENTEEN’s official merchandise and purchase a souvenir from what might just be the most memorable night of their lives yet.
Now, may I just take this opportunity to say that I did NOT expect the merch to be so expensive? A whopping P900 for a light stick?! WHAT???!!! That or I’m just really frugal. I guess being a full-time fan blurs the line between price tags and one’s actual savings.
The lengthy waiting game came to an end when we were finally admitted into the theater. SEVENTEEN’s hit songs blared through the speakers, welcoming us, as their music videos played on a massive LED screen onstage. Every time the scene in the video shifted featuring a different member, passionate shrieks would reverberate across the venue, revealing who stans who.
Watching the music videos, I thought about who’d be my bias if I were a Carat. Would I like this boy with long, pretty, purple hair? Perhaps, this guy with a lazy yet captivating gaze? Or, this short cutie with pink hair? Although I did a quick research on the boys before attending the fan meet, I couldn’t remember the names of all thirteen members. Only Hoshi’s stuck with me, and it’s probably because his name’s easy to recall and I’ve been told that he’s one huge Shawol.
It didn’t take too long after the audience settled down when the music died down. The lights went out, and a frenzy of high-pitched screams filled the theater.
“This is it,” I thought, holding my camera in my cold, sweaty hands, my heart beating loudly against my chest for some reason. Was I nervous? No. Anxious? Nah. It was then that I admitted to myself: I was excited. I was attending a K-Pop event for the first time ever and everything was just as I imagined it would be. The crowd, the energy… I loved every bit of it!
A split second later, eleven of the 13-member guy group had taken the stage for their opening number, the fast-paced and upbeat “Shining Diamonds”. Clad in embellished button-up white shirts, green fatigue trousers, and combat boots, the boys, no more than 21 years old, bounced onstage in full coordination, looking like total stars just a year after making their debut.
Following their first number were the casual, individual, aegyo-peppered introductions. For most members, it was their first time in the country. Hip-hop sub-unit member Mingyu, however, saw to it that their audience knows that he has already been to the Philippines, giddily chiming “Ako!” (me) when asked who has visited the country before.
The group’s leader S.Coups then took a moment to apologize to the fans for the absence of Chinese members Jun and The8, who reportedly experienced “personal issues” before heading to the country after their stop in Singapore. Carats, albeit the sad news, cheered on for the two members.
There was hardly any time for more drama and the next thing we knew, we’re bobbing our heads to the boys’ powerful performances of “Rock” and “Chuck”.
The first set was capped off by a hilarious game of dares (this is what the board of sticky notes was for). It was fan service all around, as the members gamely – and fearlessly – took on rather embarrassing requests from Carats.
Hoshi channeled Song Joong Ki, imitating the actor’s famous Descendants of the Sun pose. Vernon gave Seungkwan’s bum a playful spank when asked what his favorite body part of his group mate is. Woozi even danced to the hit song of Wonder Girls “Nobody” with all his sass.
Sometimes, you just never realize how crazy fans can be until you attend events like this. Seriously, where do they get all their ideas?
Transitioning to the second set, Woozi, S.Coups, and Vernon rapped to “Q&A”, with the audience singing the parts of Korean-American artist Ailee, who lent her vocals for the RnB tune.
Looking all dapper and prom night-worthy, DK and Seungkwan serenaded their already-smitten audience with the heartfelt ballad “Say Yes”, followed by the catchy “Popular Song” with the rest of the boys, who were now dressed in suits as well.
Competition ensued between the older and younger members of the group as they played a heated game of charades, with Seungkwan facilitating the game as MC Boo. The speed of the guys in guessing words like grapes, Eiffel Tower, and squirrel was so mind-blowingly quick, you’d think everything was scripted. Maybe, it really was, but the fans couldn’t care less.
Returning on the stage after a quick break, SEVENTEEN continued to look dashing and charming, now wearing teal suits for a medley of their biggest hits “Adore U”, “Mansae”, “Pretty U”, and “Very Nice” – a funky tune that rendered the boys almost breathless with all the hip thrusts its choreography involved. The girls were not complaining, though!
As someone who knew very little about SEVENTEEN, I truly enjoyed taking a peek into the past of the members as trainees under Pledis Entertainment through the VCR played during the interval between the previous set and the impending encore.
When my K-Pop crazy friends found out that I would be attending the Shining Diamonds: 1st Asia Pacific Tour, they told me that these young men write their own songs and work on their own choreography. I took what they said lightly. But seeing snippets of all that taking place in the video convinced me that these kids are not just talented. They are incredibly talented. Of course, I’m saying this in all fairness, having seen and heard them live.
For the encore stage, the boys looked fresh, wearing their official tour t-shirts. They sang the uplifting tune “Healing” as they threw little signed balls for the audience to catch and keep. The ocean of light, cotton candy in color, permeated the theater as SEVENTEEN performed “Love Letter”, their last song for the night.
SEVENTEEN is one extremely likeable bunch. Their songs are catchy and eargasmic. They’re great dancers. And they sure know how to put on a show. But I guess the best thing about this group is how – despite their number – each member’s individuality shines through once they go onstage and face the audience.
Looking back at how things turned out, I wouldn’t have my first #LEGIT K-Pop experience any other way. Big thanks to Three Angles Production for having me. I had an amazing time indeed! And, oh, SEVENTEEN, this noona can’t wait for you to grow up and do more amazing things in your blossoming career. Fighting! 💎
Written by Krew Member Andy Flores