Aftermath Report: Big Bang “Alive Galaxy Tour” in Manila – October 24, 2012
Some three months ago, the Philippine leg of Big Bang’s “Alive” tour was announced. People raised hell over the expensive ticket prices. K-pop fans – not to be confused with actual Big Bang fans – eventually compared it with another K-pop event which would have more than one Korean act in the line-up. For a moment there it sounded like the probability of the concert being a success was iffy.
October 24, 2012 happened. Mall of Asia Arena was packed to the rafters.
I’ve always said that Big Bang fans are the silent majority among K-poppers in the Philippines. They’re not as mainstream as, say, Super Junior’s ELFs or SNSD’s SONES, nor as noisy as, say, U-KISS’ Kiss Mes. But you know they’re there. And last October 24, they came out en masse to show support to their idols.
Let me get this out of the way first: The one thing that ruined my otherwise super-fun night is the way it began. I arrived at MOA around 6:00pm, and saw the big crowd outside my designated gate. I heard that gates will open at 6:00, so I decided not to line up yet and wait for my nieces and friends first. We decided to queue at around 7:30pm, and the lines were still long. This, for a concert that is supposed to start at 8:00. The guards said they’re regulating crowd control (and I guess, they were thoroughly inspecting bags for cameras since YG Entertainment, through Ovation Productions, has announced the day before that all recording devices including point-and-shoot cameras are banned from the venue) that’s why it’s taking too long to bring people in at the venue. Long story short, we ended up missing the first three songs, including the supposedly awesome opening. Believe it or not, I just found myself running up the stairs – granted that it’s a moving escalator, but still – and towards our designated section because I didn’t want to miss too much. Good thing I had eight days of training from dealing with The Killer Stairs of Seoul Subway Stations and I was wearing my super-comfy YG shoes. It made catching up on Big Bang so much easier.
The only good thing about this is that our bags were not thoroughly checked anymore, hence, we were able to bring in all our cameras including my trusty Canon S5IS – a camera that is often mistaken as a DSLR – which my niece thankfully brought. If I only knew that our bags will not be inspected anymore and that security will eventually give up on telling people to stop filming/taking photos because everyone is doing it, I would’ve taken GD-TOP with the longer zoom. But Pinky and the old Canon still delivered the goods despite our seats being at Mt. Everest levels. I love my cameras!
Observations about the venue, stage set-up and the audience:
1. MOA Arena’s seats are so steep. On one hand, it felt further away from the stage even if we’re at Upper Box. On the other hand, steep seats mean that the head of the person in front of me would be on my waist-level, so the view of the stage wasn’t obstructed even if she’s waving a light stick or fancamming using a tablet.
2. I don’t know if Big Bang used the in-house sound system or brought in their own, but the sound quality SUCKS. The one number that I eagerly looked forward to was GD-TOP’s High High, because I still vividly remember how awesome it was at Big Show 2011 in Seoul when the venue was literally booming at the chorus part. It didn’t happen here. At times, the sound was uneven and their voices were muffled that we barely understood what they said/sang. G-Dragon was seen conversing with the tech people about his mic so many times.
3. The stage was low. On one hand, it brought the boys nearer to the audience. On the other hand, it must’ve been hell for those seated at the back of the VIP area, especially since I noticed that some people were able to sneak in their banners and I think I even saw one person fancamming with a big tablet or was that a notebook computer??
4. I kinda missed the big LED screens that we saw at Big Show in Seoul.
5. I don’t know if it’s the same in other countries (never saw any fancams prior to the concert), but compared to Big Show, this concert has lesser stage effects. But I find it to be beneficial for Big Bang because they were able to showcase their talents and proved that they don’t need elaborate production values in order to mount a good show.
6. I was pleased to see a good number of males in the audience, as well as *eherm* older people. The lady beside me looked older than me and Thet, but she knows ALL the songs and can even tell which song is coming up next just based on the video interlude.
7. It was kinda funny that after months of preparing for fanchants and projects, none of it came into fruition. Instead, the arena was converted into one huge noraebang, which the boys, specifically Seungri, seemed to really appreciate. I must admit that I had goosebumps when we all sang along to several repeated choruses of Haru Haru. I’m pretty sure about 90% of the audience do not even know the correct lyrics, but we all just sang along. I got chills looking at Daesung’s eye-disappearing smile in reaction to the sing-along, and Seungri looking so overwhelmed and visibly pleased that he had to eventually say that we all had beautiful voices. Well, Pinoys are known for singing, not chanting; this is what we do best.
credits: puching27 at YouTube
8. One thing I can commend the PH VIPs, aside from being the more well-behaved fan group: Pinoy fans are usually ‘lazy’ when it comes to waving light sticks from beginning to end and from screaming for an encore at the end of the show. They would start, and then give up after a minute. Not the PH VIPs. We all know that there will be an encore, so normally, we won’t really clamor for it because we know that the performer will be back, anyway. But this audience just kept waving their light sticks screaming, “we want more!”, so it didn’t feel awkward on the part of the artist to do the encore as it really felt that the audience wanted more.
Observations on Big Bang:
1. Oh wow, these guys are REALLY good. As in REALLY. I was so satisfied even if I was up there in Mt. Everest. I still felt I was a part of it.
2. Despite the bad sound quality, clean vocals came out nice and clear particularly from Taeyang and Daesung. I’m actually in awe at how all of them still manage to sing with very few bum notes even if they’re dancing and running around the huge stage. Even TOP’s vocals are impeccably clean.
3. My question for the night: since when did Seungri become this desirable??? I mean, I’ve mentioned before that he’s really handsome in person but only when he’s standing there. Once he opens his mouth to speak or sing, he becomes baduy (Filipino slang for ‘dated’). I don’t know if his scandals has somewhat given him a sex appeal or something, but this time, he’s gorgeous all the way. It also helped that he has ditched the Kenkoy hair (as opposed to Taeyang who is still sporting the Mang Kepweng look).
It seems a lot of people got bitten by the “ang gwapo ni Seungri!” (Seungri is so handsome!) bug because I heard those words so many times from random people as we were exiting the venue.
Side note: I can’t seem to shake off the image of Seungri looking intense as he was performing Monster. Super-performance level ang lolo nyo doon.
4. Speaking of Taeyang… ok, he’s a good performer and I commend his clean vocals. But his onstage personality is still a bit dull as compared to his co-members. The only time that he shone was when he took off his shirt (which is probably why he keeps on doing it).
5. Hands down, the most popular member of Big Bang in the Philippines is none other than TOP. All it takes is for him to say, “uh…” and the whole Arena explodes with screams. Is it just me and Thet, or when TOP said, “mahal ko kayo” (I love you all) in that deep voice of his, we felt like saying, “mahal din kita” back? I’m pretty sure 24,000 ovaries exploded when he said it (assuming, that is, that 12,000 audience members have two ovaries, or had any ovary at all).
(Start at 1:38)
credits: jt021590r at YouTube
TOP’s “Mahal ko kayo” is also the most perfectly delivered. The others pronounced it as, “mehal kow keyo” (attempting it with an American accent?) or in GD’s case, “mahal ko ka-yo” which is actually very Sandara Park. *cue DaraGon shippers’ squeals
6. It seems G-Dragon is the one who really paid attention to their Tagalog class, as he’s the one who knows the most Tagalog words. He listened to his teacher well.
7. I really appreciate it – and I know everyone did, as well – that Big Bang opted to sing (or so I heard, because I missed the opening number) and deliver their spiels in English, and made an effort to learn Tagalog words. We Pinoys are just like them Koreans: we go nuts at foreigners speaking our own language, even if what they only said was “Mabuhay” or “Salamat” or “Mahal ko kayo”. Of course, Sandara Park may have been a huge factor to this, but if Big Bang didn’t want to learn, nobody can force them. As for the English spiels, the boys didn’t bother to hide that they were actually reading off some of their words from a teleprompter but I still appreciate the effort to reach out to their non-Korean audience.
8. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again: whoever is Big Bang’s English coach is doing a great job. They are probably the only non-native English speaking Koreans that I know who can speak English with a clear diction. Well, except for G-Dragon who speaks with a hip-hop accent, so he tends to eat up his words.
9. I never noticed until now – basically because I never really paid attention until last year – that G-Dragon is actually quite a good dancer. However, his energy seemed to have waned down by the second half of the show. We noticed from the LED screens that he had a bruise on his forehead and a scratch on his chin. Apparently, he fell down and bumped his head on one of the stage lifts. Also, as I have mentioned, he was visibly irritated at the tech problems. Still, mad props for the guy for being a consummate professional and still finished the show despite the accident. But for us who have seen him perform live before and knows how he tends to be literally all over the place especially during the encore, it looked pretty strange.
10. Big Bang’s strongest suit is, undeniably, their ability to command an audience. Be it in solo numbers or as a group, they’ve got each and every one on the palm of their hands. It’s a talent that not every concert performer has. The way they interacted with the crowd felt very sincere. This is what got me hooked at them. And this is why I swore to myself that the next time I watch a Big Bang concert, be it here in the Philippines or somewhere else, I will never settle for a faraway seat. I’ll get Lower Box, at least. I want to be part of the fun.
Here are the photos I took from the concert. I’ve decided to divide them into two galleries, one taken by Pinky (the Canon Sx230) and the other from my old Canon S5IS. I was surprised that despite being at Mt. Everest I still managed to take more than 300 photos, with half of them fairly usable for this blog. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them.
(You may see the photos in a higher resolution by clicking on “FS” [full screen], or navigate in slide show form by clicking on “SL”)
Feel free to share them, but with full credits, please. Thank you!