Finally, here’s the first of my U-KISS blog entries. I was supposed to post this yesterday but we ended up going to SM Clark in exchange to fighting tooth and nail with the rest of the Pinoy Kpop community at SM North EDSA today. Which turned out to be a very good decision because as of noontime today, I heard that there’s already at least a thousand fangirls waiting for U-KISS’ show which won’t start until 5:00pm. Also, Charity and Lou’s U-KISS mission became a success in Clark, details of which I will post on the next entry (unless I get distracted by a certain singer who’s releasing his mini-album next week again).
Back story for those who just chanced upon this blog while searching for stories and photos of U-KISS’ Philippine promo tour: Last February, me and my friends went to Korea and one of the things we did there was to watch SBS Inkigayo live at the studio. Since we are neither Korean nor residents of Korea and we don’t have tickets to the show, we ended up asking several fan clubs if they could spare us a ticket or two and it was U-KISS’ fan club which graciously helped us even if they know that we’re not exactly U-KISS fans (the full story here). To show our gratitude to their kindness, we vowed to support U-KISS once they do their promotional tour here.
U-KISS’ first stop was at SM Megamall last Friday, March 26. I’ve been following the goings-on at Megamall through Kairu who was there as early as 9:00AM (see her blog for her fan account) and I was told that as early as the mall’s opening at 10:00am, there were already more than 100 people who have lined up to buy the CD for the autograph signing and to gain access to the cordoned-off area, which should be more appropriately called the Death Zone. I was personally not going to gun for it since I’m not really a fan and for that kind of effort, C.N. Blue at the very least must come to the Philippines for a promo tour. However, I decided to go there as early as I could, hoping that I can still find a good spot to take photos and watch the show.
I got there at around 3:30pm, and this is what welcomed me:
This was taken from the 2nd floor (the Entertainment Center is at the Lower Ground level). I was actually satisfied with the view from there, but the area is already filled with Kpop fans who, at around this time, were seated on the floor. I only excused myself from them so that I could take this pic. It’s the same story at the Upper Ground level, and the Entertainment Center area was so much worse. However, I saw that empty little spot on the middle left portion of the photo. Yes, it’s practically at backstage and the only thing I’ll be seeing is a view of U-KISS’ backs, but it doesn’t matter. At least I can breath freely there (or so I thought). I went down and stayed glued on that spot. The fangirls beside me were probably wondering what the heck is this unnie thinking, staying there where she can’t see the show.
At exactly 4:00pm, one hour before showtime, U-KISS showed up.
It was such a shock that a near-stampede happened when all the fans who were outside the Death Zone started running towards them. The security people scrambled to protect the boys from the herd of fangirls. Meanwhile, I stayed glued on my spot because I fear for my safety and again, if I’m going to risk injuring myself due to fangirling, it should be for someone like Big Bang at the very least. This turned out to be an excellent idea on my part because before I knew it, the U-KISS boys passed by unobstructed right in front of me, with just the barriers separating us.
Unfortunately, everything just whizzed by so fast and I was not able to put the proper settings on my camera so everything came out so blurry. Another unfortunate thing is that after this, the people who used to think that the spot I was in was bad suddenly realized that it was a good spot, after all, so they crowded around me after that. And because I decided to be an obedient person and did not stick like glue on the barrier because the guard said not to, I suddenly found myself behind three very young girls who managed to squeeze themselves in between me and the barrier. The worse part is, one of the girls is about an inch or two taller than me so I had to raise my hand up high just to get a good shot of U-KISS’ backs. This means the people behind me had no choice but to also find their own camera space because I blocked their view with my camera and my big arm, and more than once did I feel a camera falling down on top of my head. Ouch. Well, that’s the price of fangirling, so we all have to live with it.
Random thoughts on the show and the experience, in general:
- I find it amusing how the Pinoy Kpop fans have adapted to the Korean/East Asian way of fangirling. They come equipped with banners and amusing stunts they do like wearing cutesy headbands that state what their blood types are. Although as Charity The Fangirling Expert would say, why would you copy what Korean fans do to catch U-KISS’ attention? That’s already common to them. If you want to catch their attention, wear something that they don’t usually see, like a baro’t saya or an ati-atihan headdress.
- I got goosebumps when U-KISS arrived and the crowd sang-along to Bingeul Bingeul which was being played on repeat mode along with Man Man Ha Ni before the show. The boys were probably thrilled to learn that the fans know their song, with Korean lyrics to boot. They were also visibly pleased when they were supposed to teach the audience how to sing – or more appropriately, shout – the chorus part of Man Man Ha Ni and found out that they didn’t have to coach the crowd, after all. The boys would probably be more pleased to know that some fans even went to the extent of carrying a lyric sheet so that they could accurately sing-along with them. Talk about OC. I mean, I would’ve just done a sound-alike because it’s not like they could tell that I’m just guessing what the lyrics are.
- I already knew about U-KISS’ famous fan service abilities since Sae Bum already told us this and I personally witnessed it last February, but I was still amused and touched at how they demonstrated it here. They were not afraid of fans, in fact they even go out of their way to approach them and shake hands and chatted a storm with them during the CD signing, although I heard from a first-hand account that Eli frowns every time someone gets out of control and gives his bulging biceps a squeeze. Although I wouldn’t take it against him because that’s just invading personal space. And I really couldn’t understand the Filipino’s habit of pinching an artista whenever they see one. I know that pleasing the fans in any way possible is part of the deal when someone decides to join showbusiness, but I don’t think it’s part of their job to be physically hurt by strangers, right?
- I admit to not knowing the members’ names; to be exact, I know some names like Alexander, Eli, Kevin and Ki Beom, but I can’t match the name with the face. I just randomly clicked my camera especially on rare times that the members would face our way. By the way, there’s another thing I like about U-KISS: they always make it a point to acknowledge EVERYONE in the audience, including those who are behind them or at the upper floors. You won’t feel left out even if you’re not at the Death Zone. These boys know how to work the crowd, and they work it extremely well. Anyway… since the one who faced our way most was Ki Beom, most of my initial photos were of him, to the delight of Ella and especially Lou who likes Ki Beom because his brother is a member of SS501.
- But… it didn’t take long before one member caught my attention, and that one member is none other than the only one who looks like a man amongst the boys and girly-looking boys: Eli. This would explain why most of the latter photos had Eli on them.
And to prove how much I like Eli, I will post my most favorite shot of the entire night, not only because it has Eli on it but because I personally think this was the best amongst the 300-something photos I took of U-KISS including those I took at SM Clark:
Now here’s the weird part: I mentioned before that U-KISS members are amongst those Korean entertainers who look different in person compared to their photos or videos. I really don’t remember Eli looking like this. Also, since I was able to take a really good look at them when they arrived and they were not wearing this much make-up yet, I was able to conclude that their TV faces really don’t do justice to their actual looks. The boys really do look good in person. The fact that they’re so nice on top of being good looking added about a million pogi points in the books of Pinoy fans. Filipinos are the type who do not tolerate snobbish celebrities (which means there is no way Rain will become a hit to ordinary Pinoys; sorry, that’s a fact) so U-KISS being tops in fan service certainly endeared them even to the random passerby who just happened to see their mall show. The fact that majority of their members can speak fluent English and know how to work the crowd with it is also a big plus.
I’m posting a few of my better photos here. The rest can be found at my Facebook photo album.