You didn’t need to be a hardcore fan to become a part of the crowd. Bangtan delivered a performance even non-KPOP fans can’t turn a head from.
Bangtan Boys (otherwise known as Bulletproof Boy Scouts; more commonly known as BTS), is a seven-member hip hop/ performance idol group from South Korea; managed by Big Hit Entertainment. BTS first awed the audience in June 2013 with ‘No More Dream’ – a song that me and friends learned during our KPOP Dance Classes in the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines (taught by Dasuri Choi). It was because of those lessons that we came to know and experience the future HIT that would be BANGTAN SONYEONDAN (Boy Scouts).
BTS is composed of Rap Monster, J-Hope, Suga, Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The average age of the group is 20, hence it’s no wonder that most of the fans fall on the same age bracket as well. These are young, hip, and enthusiatic youth! And to finally meet the local, Filipino-native version of these fans, BTS flew to the Philippines a few days ago for the Manila stop of their current tour: BTS 2014 LIVE TRILOGY EPISODE II: THE RED BULLET.
Going back to the story of our dance classes in KCC, ever since learning ‘No More Dream’ (and it being one of our ‘graduation’ songs) – I’ve always wanted to meet and watch BTS perform live in flesh. I knew back then (not through some powers of the unknown, but through some years of experience in being a KPOP fan), that these boys would become a KPOP phenomenon in the following years. Through videos in itself, the talents of these boys shine is performing live: they dance, they rap, they sing, they jump, they roll, they hit the floor all at the same time: and it takes swag (in BTS jargons of course) to deliver all perfectly. Since their debut until now, I’ve watched over BTS, and even though I was never a hardcore fan, I had so much respect for these young, defining artists.
Even so, I am shameful to say that watching the TRB concert last night was a last minute decision. As stated in my past blogs, I was on a transition from leaving the KPOP fandoms. But I guess you can’t really leave unless some businesses are left unfinished: like maybe for example, seeing one of the idol groups you genuinely respected LIVE.
The setlist was pretty much the same from all the other stops. The first song was N.O. (their second hit after the first mini album), followed by the dance craze ‘We Are Bulletproof.’ The third on the list was ‘We On’ – one of the B-SIDE songs from the second mini album (and one of my favorites). ‘Hip Hop Lover’ came next (a track from their latest, ‘Dark & Wild’ – the album I liked the best, and I’m sure a lot agree). After some hardcore rap, the boys were allowed to breath for a bit and chat briefly with the fans. Bonus points, the boys spoke in pure English! (actually, throughout the con for the all the ments). This made it easier for fans to fully get in-touch with their idols, whom they have waited for more than a year. Lighter songs with more vocal showcase for the vocalists came next with ‘Let Me Know’ and ‘Rain’ – both with only a few lights on for a more solemn, muted down atmosphere. The next two songs got the whole arena ‘Oooooh-ing’ and ‘Aahh-ing’ with ‘Blanket Kick’ – where a bed was positioned on the stage for an adorable choreography (and clumsy, squeal-worthy moments); followed by ‘Just One Day (Haruman) ‘ (WHICH IS MY MOST FAVORITE BTS SONG EVER AND THE PRIMARY REASON WHY I WANTED TO WATCH THE CONCERT). ‘Just One Day’ is also what I can consider as BTS’ most perfect transition from a hardcore Hip Hop and Performance Group to a multi-talented group that can perform multiple genres. ‘Just One Day,’ as fans all know, is a sweet, easy-to-follow song with still exceptional choreography perfectly delivered by multi-talented boys. Bangtan is not all swag after all, they’re still dream boys (I’m older than all of them, though, so cute little bros?).
The following songs were ‘Look Here,’ ‘Propose’ – the latter performed only the vocal-line that consisted of Jungkook, Jin, V, and Jimin. I heard all sorts of shipper squeals when these four boys decided to ‘serenade’ each other (mostly Jimin to V – you playful kid) with a lot of hugs and eye-smiles. It was followed briefly by a VTR that showed the boys rebelling against their very strict and abusing teacher (lol) – and everyone could already guess that the next song would be one of the group’s badass title tracks. The boys came out strut in their stuff, black and dark, as they performed the song that first showcased them to the world – ‘No More Dream.’ And you know what else I expected? The very famous abs of Jimin making its appearance. The crowd roared with ‘Lalalalalala’ – creating a powerful ARMY of audience.
‘So 4 More’ comes next, followed two songs the fans merrily sang with – ‘Miss Right’ and ‘I Like It’ (one BTS’ early songs – and the song responsible for making me like Jungkook). Lyrics flashed on the screen in romanized form (though most of the fans knew the songs by heart of course) making a more soft atmosphere for BTS and their ARMY of sweethearts and bros. ‘If I Ruled the World’ comes next – a very enthusiastic song I liked to listen to as well for its witty lyrics (trademark BTS). Another hardcore hip hop party comes next when the vocal-line left the stage and left the rap-line lead the battalion with ‘BTS Cypher Part 3: Killer’ (Note: BTS Cypher is a recurring title in most of BTS’ albums – currently has 3 parts released through the second, third mini albums, and the first full-length. Cypher is where Rap Monster, Suga, and J-Hope showcases their skills in hardcore rap and songwriting). I personally like this Cypher the best for its meaningful lyrics (you’ll have to go past prejudices to absorb the meaning – if you know what I mean) – talking about breaking prejudices, stereotypes, and laws in music to fully express what they want to express in the best way they can; and confidently stating that they know what they’re doing, and they do it best). With another badass party ending, the three rappers tease their fans by changing jackets on the stage (all the while transitioning to the climax of the show). With jackets changed, the air expectant, and the best set of lights and effects set on place, the next song, ‘Hormone War’ becomes a prelude to ‘Danger’ and ‘Boy In Luv’ – the songs that catapulted BTS to a perfect hit popularity, and cemented their status in KPOP. The last two songs mentioned could have laid the whole venue into artistic ruins – with seven boys performing like life ends after the show, and their faithful army of fans moving their lightsticks to every little beat and bass, heads banging to every lyric. A good number of fans rose from their seats as well, while some who sat beside us literally cried – finally witnessing the songs that changed BTS’, and their’s histories.
BTS said bye-bye after BIL, but of course fans knew better that there was going to be an encore. While the boys were changing to more comfortable shirts, an VTR with a very special message from BTS to the fans (and to themselves), more specifically looked back to their debut days and rise to fame, played on the screen. By this time, even I was in tears. You’d have to be heartless not to be moved during that moment. It was BTS and Filipino ARMYs special moment. The boys shortly came out afterwards with ‘Road/Path’ (this was a hidden track in one of BTS’ early albums). The fans sang along again, this time with more precision so as to fully adapt to the moment: BTS and ARMYs relishing the best of the past year since their beginnings. It was a beautiful moment, and I took the chance to look all around me: the shining ocean truly for Rap Monster, Suga, J-Hope, Jungkook, V, Jin, Jimin. For talk that came afterwards, V incited laughter from the crowd when he shared his experience with ‘HALO-HALO’ (a cold treat with shaved and a mix of sweets like beans, fruits). Rap Monster also made the fans more comfortable (as if he hasn’t) by sharing a story about a Filipino friend he had back when he was in New Zealand. He said the friend was a good one, so he had a good image of the Filipinos. The concert ended with two upbeat songs: ‘Jump’ and ‘Attack on Bangtan.’ At this point, the boys bid their goodbyes and said their thanks once again to the fans’ warm welcomes and participation, and promised to return to the Philippines again for another show.
When I came out of the glass doors of the SM Mall of Asia Arena, I was welcomed with a great quantity of fans who were waiting outside (fans who didn’t get to join the concert) – supporting their idols in the least possible way they could. Before I entered the venue, I also remembered a fan who fell to the ground and cried as the concert started – in agony she couldn’t be a part of the event. These moments, and all the emotions that radiated from the fans inside the concert halls, reminded me once again how splendid it was to be a fangirl. Waiting hours in the airports, outside the venue; meeting new friends, meeting the idols for the first time – and having the time of your lives, living like there was nothing else that could be greater than those moments. Weeks ago, I decided to depart from the KPOP fandoms to focus more on other things, but maybe, once a fangirl, always a fangirl. Intensity might have lessened, but there will always be that girl inside of me who squeals at the sights of idols she admires. Last night, BTS brought out the fangirl in me once again, and I didn’t resist.
I would also like to take this time to point out that the fans who were beside us were very kind and disciplined. The girl who stood behind me kept on hitting my back with her knees, but she would say sorry – taking a few seconds of her time off what was happening in the stage. I think that enough is a good thing!
All in all, The Red Bullet in Manila was/is an event worth spending for, hardcore fan or not. BTS delivered a concert that is for everyone who likes genuinely good music, good dance, and good time!
Please feel free to correct me if I wrote anything that’s wrong!