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arconoclast

fanacc
08/26/2018 Season of GFriend in Manila

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Hi all,

I decided to write about my experience going to see Season of GFriend in Manila, the Philippines. This'll be pretty long I think. :yerin-love:

Background
 

Spoiler

 

I'm from the USA, so seeing a solo concert of a girl group is quite a long shot. I went to see GFriend at KCON LA 2016 (some clips here) and KCON NY 2017 (some clips here) but the performances/engagement at those events are so short. I saw the announcement for Season of GFriend in Manila and that the date was also Yerin+Umji's birthday. So I had to go.

 

My parents are from the Philippines and I hadn't been there in almost 14 years. I convinced them to make the trip (on relatively short notice) and even bought them tickets for the concert so they could see why I wanted to go so much. :BeastToss-26: So we made a ~2 week trip out of it, planning on connecting with relatives and such during the other days we were in the country. Travel time: ~18 hours each way from New York to Manila, plus additional travel within the USA and the Philippines. >-<

 

Canceled?
 

Spoiler

 

We were staying out in the countryside the 4 days prior to the event date. On the Thursday before, we saw on TV about the Manila airport runway incident that pretty much shut down the airport for a day, causing massive flight cancellations, disruptions, ... you name it. We had no internet/data connection where we were, so I worried for some time what the fate of the event would be -- would our girls be able to make it to the Philippines on time?

 

On the day before the event date, we were driving into the city to take our return flight back to Manila. I was refreshing Twitter frantically once I was able to get a data connection. It was then that the announcement was made: the concert was canceled because the girls and the concert staff would not be able to make it in time due to the airport chaos. It was actually postponed by one week to the following Sunday, August 26.

 

Originally, we planned on returning to the USA a few days before then. With the good fortune of the postponement only being one week (as opposed to months or outright cancellation), I decided to alter travel plans so we could make the new concert date. There was no other option in my mind. :y1: 

 

Red carpet / photo wall
 

Spoiler

 

After an agonizing wait, the day finally arrived. We headed over to the Novotel to pick up our VVIP wristbands and to attend the red carpet/photo wall event at around 1:20 PM. After getting our wristbands, we sat in some waiting room as the event would not start until 3:00 PM... quite a wait. Eventually, the organizers brought one portion of the attendees to the adjacent room... and started the red carpet event. The remaining group of people sat and listened to the fan screams and such through the divider wall, feeling left out. :BeastToss-21: After about 5-10 minutes of awkwardly sitting there, wondering what was going on, the organizers herded the rest of us into the red carpet room which was reset. It turns out they were just doing the event twice, presumably to reduce the group sizes. Very different from my previous red carpet experiences but I guess it makes sense.

 

The organizers gave us a quick rundown of the rules (like no screaming during the interview) and quickly thereafter, we welcomed the girls into the room for an encore of their red carpet entrance. As Sowon walked through the door leading the rest of the girls into the room, I was stunned. I had the familiar feeling of being awestruck and overwhelmed by the girls' mere presence, breathing arrested and on the verge of shedding tears. They were wearing these gorgeous military-style olive outfits, reminiscent of The Awakening era, as opposed to the black and white outfits with which they opened the Seoul concerts with. It took me a moment to regain my composure so I could cheer them on and welcome them. The members stopped to wave and pose to the right and left of the stage before taking the steps up the photo wall platform for the quick interview.

 

The interview was about as expected: the emcee/interpreter asks a pre-approved softball question and one member answers and the emcee interprets as necessary. For example, one question was about what they would do if they had money to start a business. Eunha answers with her dream about opening a burger shop and giving burgers to Buddies. I just knew it was coming and laughed when she said 햄버거. After the short interview, the girls made their exit and the attendees exited shortly thereafter. The hype had officially begun.

 

Sound check

Spoiler

After killing some time in the area, we headed to the concert venue for the pre-show sound check at around 5:00 PM. They eventually let us into the venue and into the the VIP A standing area (right behind the seated VVIP area) where we waited for the sound check to begin. The girls came out in their street clothes (airport/travel outfits) and introduced themselves. With a brief introduction for each, we were treated to 봄비 (Rain in the Spring Time) and 바람의 노레 (Hear the Wind Sing), one vocal and one dance track. Even pre-concert, the fans' excitement and energy were there, with fans screaming and cheering already. After their performances, the girls exit the stage to get ready and the venue organizers direct us to our actual seats.

Concert!
 

Spoiler

 

We waited about an hour after taking our seats for the show to begin. A looping playlist of various GFriend B-side tracks quietly played in the background. The theater gradually filled up with fans. Anticipation and excitement was building, and when TFTMN came on over the sound system, Buddy cheered ecstatically. We practiced our fan chants and singing along to the recording. It was an awesome first for me, being at a Kpop show where everyone was there for the same performer.

 

At 7:00 PM promptly, the house lights dimmed and the show was set to start. The intro VCR was projected onto the stage curtains and Buddy cheered wildly as each member made their initial appearance. Following the conclusion of the video, the curtains parted, the stage lights lit up, and the familiar intro lick of Fingertip started playing. We cheered their entrance and engaged in the familiar fanchant (김소정! 정예린!...) as the show got underway. Being part of such a loud fanchant was awesome and definitely a highlight for me throughout the show.

 

With the theater being a single stage (no T stage or other configurations), things were obviously going to be different from the Seoul concerts. For Fingertip, they kept the extended dance break (without the trapdoor shenanigans). As in the other concerts, they followed up with Navillera immediately before the first comments break. I wasn't sure how the comments would work. In my KCON experiences, the emcees would speak scripted lines with subtitles on the screens and the artists would usually speak limited amounts in English. In this case, the girls mostly read scripted lines and the translator would follow up with English interpretations. Obviously, they was kind of weird and felt inorganic, but I guess that's to be expected when performing in front of a foreign audience.

 

The concert followed pretty much exactly as in the Seoul concerts, with generally shorter comment breaks. For Season 2, rather than sitting on giant swings, the girls sat on stools in front of a sculpture. (At least Yerin didn't have to deal with the height off the ground!) Since the concert format was exactly like the Seoul concerts, I was wondering if they would perform anything from the two albums released since then. The girls performed their solo stages in between VCRs. For Season 3, the girls came out in their signature Season of GFriend outfits and kicked off the trilogy with Glass Bead. Since these were arguably three of their biggest songs, the crowd was especially into it, particularly for Me Gustas Tu. Everyone was having a good 밤 and it was tons of fun!

 

At the conclusion of the trilogy, the girls had their comment break, discussing the solo stages and whatnot. They got Buddy to participate and sing along as they reviewed each solo stage. Eventually, they mention that this Season is filled with Buddy's favorites before dimming the lights to continue the performance. Much to my surprise (maybe everyone else's too), Eunha began her solo intro for TFTMN. We cheered loudly as we realized we were being treated to something special. Following that exciting performance, the Season ended with an amazing performance of Rainbow and the next intermission and VCR started.

 

Based on the Seoul concerts, I was anticipating them to walk around the venue for 하늘 아래서 (Under the Sky) but didn't know how it'd work with this particular venue. I saw the security staff around me making sure the area was clear as Season 4 was set to begin. The song started with the girls on stage; however, they shortly made their way down to the ground level. I think they split up into pairs and went around the VIP standing areas and some of the VVIP seated area but I lost track of them because it was pandemonium around me, lol. Some lucky fan got Sowon and Eunha to take a selfie on their phone!

 

The next few songs were a bit of a blur as we recovered from the excitement of what just happened. Following a comment break, we were treated to another surprise inclusion as they performed Sunny Summer! The fanchants were loud and many Buddies sang along enthusiastically. Sowon later commented that she was surprised and touched that we knew the song so well even though it is quite new and that it caused her to forget choreography. :Sowon: Also during Season 4, we had a commemorative picture taken with the girls and Buddy. They also had a "photo time" where they struck various poses so we could photograph them. It was fun!

 

After concluding the Season with Love Whisper, Buddy chanted for an encore in the darkness until the final VCR played. The girls returned with their t-shirt outfits for the encore as the intro for My Buddy played. They didn't go down back into the audience this time, but stepped up to the edge of the stage to interact more closely with Buddy. Fans tried to get gifts/slogans/etc. past the security staffs to the girls; some threw stuff at the stage :BeastToss-06: which was kind of scary. The guard in front of me was denying some fans from giving Sowon some of the slogans that the fan union had been distributing. However, Sowon knelt down behind the guard to give her approval and accepted them from the fans. So sweet!

 

After the song concluded and some closing comments, the screen on stage started playing a fan tribute video and the girls turned to watch it! This reminded of the surprise emotional video played at TWICE's first concert that caught them off guard and caused them start sobbing and spilling their feelings; I was wondering if GFriend and Buddy were going to spend the next 30 minutes crying too. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), it was a relatively short video and didn't evoke such a reaction. However, during the final parting song (Falling Asleep Again), Yuju (I think) got emotional and missed some of her lines. It was touching.

Now that it was truly the end, the final goodbyes and curtain call got underway. The girls were being dorks to the end. Yerin gathered up some of the confetti that had been sitting on stage since Me Gustas Tu to throw (in my general direction!), but failed to make it go any significant distance :yerin:. Nice try, though. The girls pretended to pull the curtains together as they closed to conclude the concert for good.

 

Hi touch

Spoiler

The rest of the venue emptied out as the VVIP attendees waited for the post-concert hi touch event. While waiting for the event to be set up, it was announced that SinB would not make it because she had dislocated her shoulder. :yerincry: She had powered through discomfort and pain the whole time to perform for us. Amazing. Regardless, the venue organizers herded and lined us up like cattle for the hi touch event. For some reason, they kept the stage curtains and had the table/setup behind the curtains so it was kind of dark. I was planning on trying to say something more substantial than the short "hi" I said at KCON 2017's hi touch but I was sort of rushed through quickly. Oh well. It was really great to interact with them after an awesome show, no matter how brief.

Overall
 

Spoiler

 

It was amazing for a first solo concert experience. Buddies were engaged and it was a lot of fun (although exhausting!) to cheer the girls on with a lot of other fans. (My parents complained that people behind were screaming the whole time and singing over the artists, lol. I guess they didn't know what to expect.) Although the girls looked winded at some points in the show (Umji mentioned that the stage was warm and also the comment breaks were generally shorter), they still gave the performance their all and made us really happy to be there. They were lovely and charming and despite language barriers, we communicated our feelings perfectly well.

I'm preaching to the choir here, but it's definitely worth going to see the girls perform. I've been to many different concerts/shows, not just Kpop, and I can say it was probably the most enjoyable of them all.  Would I make such a long and expensive trip to see them again? ...Maybe, but probably not so soon. I miss :gfriend: already!

 

Here's an album of the pictures I took. I decided to keep my phone in my pocket most of the time instead of trying to capture everything. I'm sure you can find more dedicated fancams elsewhere!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/YEG15pVVQx39NvtY6

I also took a short clip of Sowon's solo stage.


 

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