Jeffer's Odyssey

FF #7: BTS on Fire in HwaYangYeonHwa On Stage: Epilogue in Manila

Seeing Bangtan on YouTube, Twitter, Naver’s V App and various other websites that I visit everyday, I thought seeing them live on stage for the first time would be somehow anticlimactic. Or that it would not be as exciting. After all, I see them during the great part of every day (that’s how much of a fan I am), and I hear Jimin’s voice every time I get a new SMS on my phone. And then Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa On Stage: Epilogue in Manila happened. BOY, WAS I SO WRONG.

July 30, 2016. A date that will forever be etched in my memory.

The moment I heard the announcement that Manila will be one of the legs of their Epilogue Tour, I knew that one of the most beautiful moments in my fangirling life will take place. I’ll be seeing Bangtan live on stage.

There was never any hesitation on my part. I had to go to that concert, that I even had to make sure I was free on the Sunday when the tickets were going to be sold. The moment the clock struck 10am, I was online, bought my ticket, and paid. Scant seconds before the smtickets site momentarily crashed… and several minutes before the tickets got sold out.

Lady luck was on my side.

Then the day arrived, and I left Baguio on a bus at 5am.  A combination of slow driving and the dismal traffic conditions in Metro Manila roads resulted to a 9-hour trip.

I only went in at 6pm, and already I can hear screaming from inside. Dropped by to buy some water, and the Krispy Kreme staff (all males) I chatted with told me that they (BTS) are handsome and very good performers, since they were able to watch their entire rehearsals the night before. And that the boys were also so nice and had photos taken with them. That wasn’t a surprise. Any fan knows how polite and nice these 7 boys are.

I went in, sat down and…. they were out! (So the ticket said the concert is at 7:30pm, and maybe there was a memo that it’ll start more than an hour earlier, but I didn’t get it. I’m just glad I decided to go in early, otherwise I would’ve missed the start, and I’d forever be flogging myself mentally and physically if that happened.)

And then, here it is. It’s finally happening.

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I literally sucked in my breath when the first strains of “Run” was heard, and that now-familiar tableau of six of them in position while V approaches from the left side of the stage, unfolded. Then released my breath when RapMon began singing his part.

(That was the longest breath hold I remember doing above water.)

From the start, their energy was high. As expected from Bangtan.

Kim Namjoon aka Rap Monster
Kim Namjoon aka Rap Monster
Min Yoongi aka SUGA
Min Yoongi aka SUGA
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Jung Hoseok aka J-Hope
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Kim Seok-jin aka JIN
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Park Jimin aka JIMIN
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Kim Taehyung aka V
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Jeon Jungkook aka Jungkook

They were so unreal.

It felt like a dream. And I do not exaggerate, because to me, it was. The amount of content they continue churning out (on their blog, YouTube channel, Twitter and V App, aside from other platforms) made us fans feel like they are our best friends and brothers. How they connected to the fans made us all that much more invested in them. And to finally see them standing there, on the stage, it was… It was….

I could not help but give out a sigh. They’re real. These boys. These dorks. These… bright balls of sunshine. They’re real.

They’re the same guys that we see on those videos and tweets. Regular boys who know how to have fun while working. And they’re bringing the A.R.M.Y.s along with them for the ride.

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Let me talk about the music first, because it IS, and WILL ALWAYS BE the biggest part of Bangtan. It’s their essence, the main reason why they are doing what they do.

The thing with loving all their songs is that I wish they’d pack it all in one concert… which is impossible, since we’re talking 3 hours here, and a whole discography, including their unpromoted releases and mixtapes, which are just as dope.

I couldn’t complain about their setlist, because it had some of my personal favorites, like Autumn Leaves, Baepsae, and Butterfly, but oh what I would have given to have them perform Let Me Know, because that’s a song meant to be heard live.

This wraps up their Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa (The Most Beautiful Moment in Life) series, and they stuck to the overall tone, look and feel of the album. The background images, the lighting… they all worked together, melding beautifully, serving as beautiful backdrop to the songs.

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They had something for everyone, but then again, that is to be expected. While it is true that Bangtan started out hardcore hiphop, their music has grown and evolved, and I just love the variety, which they dished out.

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And then, there is Bangtan.

JIMIN and JUNGKOOK overflow with charisma on stage. Stage presence? They’ve got it nailed. That’s why your eyes always get drawn to them, especially during those hard-hitting choreos.

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Kudos to JK for working hard at memorizing quite lengthy English sentences to say to us fans. Stick to Namjoon, Kookie. Your pronunciation is very promising; you just have to learn more then you can help out Namjoon and Hobi.

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Yes, Hobi. Hobi and his fearlessness in speaking English, smiling the whole time. JHOPE was such a joy to watch. A JOY. He was a delight on stage from beginning to end. At one point I thought, “he’s not performing for fans, he’s having a party and having a blast with it, too”.

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NAMJOON looked so darn fine, he can just stand there on the stage and he can command attention. Then he spits his bars, and you cannot help but be carried along with it. Whenever he talked, tho, the other fans seated behind me (they’re Korean teens) were screaming, so I can barely hear what he’s saying. Which is sad. Huhu.

I was hoping for Suga’s NEVERMIND, but RapMon’s WHAT AM I TO YOU was also very much welcome.

And props to Namjoon for always acknowledging how, despite barriers and differences in culture and language, and the distance from our country to theirs, fans are still dedicated to them. I rarely hear this said by other artists. But it’s something that we often hear from RapMon.

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JIN is beautiful! As if we needed confirmation of that, but he really is handsome, which is probably why no one complains when his narcissism strikes, haha! I also like how he’s clearly more comfortable on stage now. The “awkward hyung” may soon be a complete thing of the past.

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SUGA. Sometimes it didn’t surprise me that he got emotional. Despite that tough and gruff exterior, you have one sensitive soul who just wants his music to be heard. Filipino fans are listening, all right, and I’m glad he saw that. When he was thanking everyone for giving them lots of love and support, I was not surprised. That’s such a SUGA thing to say.

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Let me also just talk about how I screamed when Cypher Pt. 3: Killer came on, because it’s one my favorite Bangtan raps. He was so in his element, and this made me even more excited to hear his upcoming mixtape.

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And V. Ah, Kim Taehyung. His Royal Squishiness. How can someone look so beautiful? He was his usual oddball self, seemingly dancing to his own beat at several points during the concert.

And he’s a master at fan service, no doubt about that. We’re familiar with how he often goes “Do you know who I am?” in random videos, and when he dished out “Kilala n’yo ba ako?” with that smug smile, I just had to laugh.

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They had that usual playfulness on stage, and you can feel the camaraderie among them. In many interviews, they are very cognizant of the fact that a large reason why they have lots of fans is because of their brotherhood. It is very heartening to see them maintain and sustain that.

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And the singing was all live. I don’t think they did much pre-recording. You can easily tell they are singing live when they stop singing to make way for the crowd and fanchants, and you hear nothing. The best part? Except for the ad libs and rearranged vocals and rap, they sound like they swallowed the CD, and sounded even better too.

By the way, cheers to the staff at the Tech Control Booth directly below us. You did a great job~

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I’m so proud of the audience. I’ve been to several K-pop concerts in Manila and, out of those few, I have never seen a crowd this big. Or this loud. But it’s the good kind of loud, because they are fanchants more than incoherent screaming and screeching. Filipino A.R.M.Y.s can definitely hold their own in the fanchant department and, guess what? I don’t think there was even a rehearsal for it. It’s like an automatic thing. Several times, I saw the boys looked even amazed when the crowd knew when to chant, and then started singing along.

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Another notable PH Army moment was when the seated sections on both sides of the stage did a Word Formation by holding colored cards. One side spelled out “Saranghae” (We love you) and “Gomawo” (Thank you). Hobi was the first to notice it, and the rest of the members reacted after they realized what was formed.

You can only see part of it in the pic below. This was when Hobi realized there was a word formed.

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I wasn’t part of that word formation project, because my section was in the front. But I still felt the overflowing love and emotion when I saw it. Great job, PH A.R.M.Y.s!

It was a great show. The 3+ hours went by so quickly, I didn’t even realize it. Even if the audience members seated behind me stepped down on the stairs beside me (I had an aisle seat) then started shrieking like banshees, I didn’t mind. Usually, I’d have stuffed my earpods on my ears to lessen the impact, but no, I kept the pods off. I didn’t want to muffle Bangtan music drifting to my ears. Even if there were screaming and screeching included. 🙂

Bangtan always slays. And they did that again in this concert.

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In his closing statement, Jimin said “Magkita tayo uli” (Let us see each other again.) When the concert ended, the words “See You Again in 2017” lit up on the sides of the Arena, and this made me smile.

Yes, I definitely will see you again in 2017, Bangtan. Thank you for coming to the Philippines.

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