It was a rollercoaster of emotions for Filipino CARATs as SEVENTEEN (sans leader S.Coups and Jeonghan) grace the stage yet again for their electrifying Follow Tour in Bulacan, this time taking place at the Philippine Sports Stadium for two days, January 13 and 14.
The last time they were here was for their Be The Sun tour last December 2023 at the nearby Philippine Arena, also in Bulacan. During that concert, Member Mingyu mentioned, “I noticed that there is a stadium beside this arena” — and here they are almost 13 months later, the first K-pop boy group to perform in the said stadium.
Like BSS’s, BooSeokSoon; a sub-group of SEVENTEEN, “FIGHTING” lyric, 필요해 모두 다 텐션 up pumpin’ [Everybody needs a boost up pumpin’], CARATs needed all the boos they can get pre-concert as tensions rose during ticket selling, the anxiety of making sure your tickets were legit (if bought or traded from someone else), and finding the perfect outfit to wear for the concert.
My friends and I felt all these as tickets started selling like hotcakes, but we’re so grateful we secured seated tickets. Some CARATs even had to open numerous tabs on their phones and laptops to secure theirs.
I also stumbled upon posts of fans chanting BOO SEUNGKWAN BOO SEUNGKWAN BOO SEUNGKWAN, when in one episode of their online series, GOING SEVENTEEN, Seungkwan said, “Say Seungkwan’s name three times to make your wish come true. Boo Seungkwan, Boo Seungkwan, Boo Seungkwan”, during the ticket selling to make sure they get their priority sections (even adding Seungkwan’s representative emoji, the tangerine, on their posts).
**In one episode of their online series, GOING SEVENTEEN, Seungkwan said, “Say Seungkwan’s name three times to make your wish come true. Boo Seungkwan, Boo Seungkwan, Boo Seungkwan”
Tickets, Check! Let’s go to Bulacan!
If you’re a CARAT like me, you want to ensure that you’ll have the things needed to have your concert experience smooth sailing.
Here are some of the things my friends and I listed days before the concert:
Concert essentials check!!
Batteries for Caratbong
Raincoat (if needed)
This is my first time attending a concert with my very own lightstick so I’m very excited to use it during the concert [even buying extra batteries to make sure it’ll light up the whole night]. Special thank you to my friend for giving me a ribbon for my Caratbong – it looked like Kuromi next to her My Melody-esque Caratbong.
(Left: Caratbong Ver. 3 with its chrome colors and Caratbong Ver. 2 [right] with CARATs’ representative colors, rose quartz and serenity)
As there was uncertainty of rainfall during the concert, fans brought raincoats to be safe (most of them in shades of yellow to mimic the boys’ photos for their God of Music Carat Ver. album).
From Makati to Bulacan, it took us less than two hours to arrive. Welcoming us is the booming sound of SEVENTEEN songs coming from the arena (or was it them doing the soundcheck?) and CARATs enthusiastically singing along to the tunes.
It was the perfect weather to enjoy a concert — clear skies with the sun shining and the January breeze blew to the relief of CARATs in line. And no rain either!
I found the queuing more organized than the last tour — more staff to ask where you’ll go depending on your section and probably also due to CARATs following instructions.
A few chitchats and singing along to SEVENTEEN songs in line later, we were in!
Ready to Rock With You, SEVENTEEN
Now, the real waiting game begins. Some of my friends were in a different section from ours (there were six of us in total) — so we went to different doors. In one section, I had two friends with me, one sat beside me and our other friend sat not far away from us.
Music videos played, interspersed with thunderous cheers for every member on screen and heartfelt singalongs. Lightstick pairing was also flashed on the screen — oohs and ahhs filling the stadium as each of their Caratbongs’ colors synchronized with thousands more.
Hundreds of lightsticks swayed like a field of flowers in the breeze, pulsing to the rhythm of the pre-concert music. Excitement crackled in the air, punctuated by bursts of nervous laughter and eager chatter.
It isn’t surprising that Filipinos sing every lyric during a concert. During the music video of God of Music, even people from a mile away could hear the fans sing “KKUNG CHI PAK CHI, KKUNG KKUNG CHI PAK CHI YEAH” and CARATs did not disappoint when the “Super” music video was played. They gave their ener-energy and all the air in their lungs while singing.
As the official VCR of the tour was shown, thousands of screaming and chanting fans anticipated the reveal of the boys. And once they heard the first note of the opening song, CARATs went wild. The concert unfolded like a dream, showcasing a dynamic setlist.
SEVENTEEN opened the first act of their concert with the award-winning and hype song, “SUPER”. CARATs, regardless of their location, matched the boys’ energy note for note, lyric by lyric. During Woozi’s killing part, you can hear ALL of the fans singing his lines with their whole chests (making the boys beam with pride).
“DON QUIXOTE” followed with its sleek formations and synchronized movements, a first-time treat for Filipino fans. A sea of lightsticks synchronized in movement made it more exhilarating.
Hoshi’s signature “AYO MANILA, MAKE SOME NOISE!” during “CLAP” wasn’t met with mere noise, but with an electrifying roar that sent chills down spines.
The nostalgia wave continued with a song from their AI1 (2017) album, “Don’t Wanna Cry,” with SEVENTEEN being ethereal and forever synchronized. Following that were the heart-melting melodies of poignant “FML (F*ck My Life)” and “Thanks.”
To continue the second act of their concert was the performances of each sub-unit bringing their distinct flair. The Vocal Unit consisting of Joshua, Woozi, DK, and Seungkwan serenaded CARATs with “Dust” and “Pinwheel”. (I was crying by the end of “Pinwheel” because it’s one of my favorite songs )
The Performance Unit composed of Hoshi, The8, Jun, and Dino ignited the stage with their passionate performance of “Highlight” and fiery “I Don’t Understand But I Love You, the shedding of jackets adding to the invigorating atmosphere.
Vernon, Wonwoo, and Mingyu from the Hip-Hop Unit painted the whole stadium red with their “Back It Up” and “Fire” performances. Every time the three of them would go to different parts of the stage, they were met with singing and fans rapping along. At this point, I could hear fans saying how it was crazy seeing this live, and I agree with their sentiment.
The boys also continued their ‘Follow’ Festival with the energetic performances of “HOME: RUN,” with all the boys in sync by the end; “Left & Right” with the rest of the boys following DK’s antics “Beautiful” with balloon flowers blowing up on the sides of the stage —giving it a youthful vibe; “God of Music” with one of the loudest fan chants that night; and, “April Shower” that brought a gentle rain of confetti.
One song that brought tears to many fans was “Kidult,” reminding fans that it’s okay to have a child-like heart amidst this fast-paced world. A message of the song,” We don’t want to be comforted, we want to be the comfort” perfectly describes what SEVENTEEN is to their loving fans.
For the rest of the night, SEVENTEEN, along with CARATs [covering Seungkwan’s parts], sang:
- “Good to Me”
- “Run to You” (performed live after 6 years and in moving carts! This allowed them to see CARATs up close, in awe with how loud the cheers were after removing their in-ears)
- “Together” (sung in English in a special nod to their UNESCO Youth Forum performance in Paris)
- “To You” (one of my absolute favorites which fans whole-heartedly sang along to)
- “Hit” (with the boys being playful with each other and of course, CARATs)
Finally, the quintessential “AJU NICE” brought the house down, and performed an unforgettable eight times during the first night!
My friends and I have a running joke wherein after the concert we said to one another, “Are your knees still AJU KNEES or AJU not KNEES?” because we were jumping non-stop–the effects of which we still felt it the next day.
SEVENTEEN — Best Boys
Throughout the concert, SEVENTEEN’s genuine affection for their Filipino CARATs was evident. And being the best boys that they are, they ensured that everything was smooth sailing during the concert. A fan needed help and others in the VIP section because of how hot it was, as evident in Hoshi’s worried face when he saw it. The boys rushed to that side of the stage to give their water to the fans to help avoid getting dehydrated. (Special shout out to Joshua as the vice, vice leader for keeping his calm even during that situation.)
They kept worrying for the welfare of their fans, asking if they had water with them. Once they heard no, Hoshi asked for rain, and fans vehemently raised their arms in an X to say, “No, Hoshi, no!” The rest of the members laughed at the reaction of their lovely fans.
Once everything was okay, the boys returned to their energetic selves. They constantly praised CARATs’ energy and singing skills, highlighting the unique bond they share. Wonwoo even jokingly declared Filipino CARATs are professional singers.
At one point, fans chanted Seungkwan’s name because he did not come out after singing “Pinwheel” with the Vocal Unit. Hoshi ended the fans’ speculation and worry with the translator’s help, “Everyone, we have an emergency. Seungkwan has not been feeling well since this morning. But since his willingness to perform is strong, we couldn’t stop him from performing. But, since his condition worsened, he wasn’t able to continue.”
To show that it was okay and that they understood, fans chanted “GWAENCHANA, GWAENCHANA, GWAENCHANA” [It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay]. Hoshi continued, “Shall we shout, Seungkwan-ah appeujima (Seungkwan-ah, don’t get sick),” with fans following his lead. Wonwoo added, “Seungkwan will get well soon, so please don’t worry. We’ll perform energetically on behalf of Seungkwan.” All photos by Trixzy Leigh Bonotan.
One unforgettable highlight for me was Dino’s playful turn as his alter ego, Pi Cheolin. (Whenever the camera pans to Dino, CARATs would keep chanting Pi Cheolin, Pi Cheolin, Pi Cheolin). And once he was Pi Cheolin, Dino showcased the rap he did with BooSeokSoon during the 38th Golden Disk Awards. His genuine personality, endearingly acknowledged by his fellow members, added another layer of joy to the evening.
Another one is Hoshi having fun with CARATs with his default English ment, which surprised Woozi because everyone knows it by heart. There is so much more to note, but since my PCD is acting up, only a few are mentioned. (And I would not want to bore you with my neverending fangirling, with AJU NICE probably.)
CARATs’ Forever Headliner
A distinct memory for CARATs attending the concert would be the boys speaking in Tagalog, met with “kilig” reactions.
“Kumain kayo ng marami. Babalik kami para sa inyo!” .— DK
“Mahal ko kayong lahat. Kitakits.” — Woozi
“Na-miss namin kayo. Na-miss niyo ba kami? Hanggang sa muli. Babalik kami para sa inyo.” — Mingyu
Throughout their ments they would say, “Mahal ko kayong lahat!”“Maraming salamat po!” and repeating “Babalik kami!”
Once the last “Aju Nice” was played, they bid their adieus, with Dino saying “You’re my headliner” and Hoshi playfully saying, “You’re my heart…. You’re my.. Blood” (which collected giggles from fans) — they bowed to their fans and said their last “Say the name, SEVENTEEN” for that night.
They shortly played “Headliner” to the delight of Filipino CARATs. As the lights of the stage dimmed, and people headed to the exits — I felt all kinds of emotion. Exhilarated, and overwhelmed that I saw them again, and I had a tinge of longing even though I had just seen them.
Exhausted but euphoric, we wandered out of the stadium, voices hoarse from screaming every lyric as if possessed. That night was like a homecoming, a chorus of thousands proving that in the shimmering constellation of SEVENTEEN, Filipino CARATs shone just as bright. We carried the echoes of the group’s symphony, a melody etched onto us that would forever pulse with the rhythm of twinkling lights and thunderous cheers.
For me and a thousand others, this concert wasn’t just a memory; it was a promise, a whisper of a future where we’d chase diamond dreams together, forever CARATS under the same SEVENTEEN sky.
Image credits: Trixzy Leigh Bonotan