By Gianna G. Maniego
HABITUES of the Mall of Asia (MOA) must have noticed how the population of mall visitors doubled in size over the weekend recently when there wasn’t even a sale going on.
Blame Exo for this. One of the hottest KPop idol groups right now, Exo staged a two-day concert series at the MOA Arena, dubbed Exo’luXion in Manila, on January 23 and 24. It was the hottest ticket over the weekend and no bonafide KPop follower could have missed it.
We managed to catch the Sunday performance, thanks to Globe Telecom which sponsored the concert. And while we have gotten used to the frenzy of covering KPop concerts, we were not totally prepared for the near-manic mood of the Exo-L (the fandom’s name).
The noise was cacophonous, the bodies wall-to-wall, and the mood frenetic, especially around the Arena area. This was where thousands of teenagers in shorts, sneakers and bunny rabbit ears (yes, you had to be there) positioned themselves, shouting in each other’s ears or just breaking into shrieks for no good reason besides their over-the-top excitement. Why? Because they were breathing the same air as their idols.
Brought to Manila by Pulp Live World, which has brought some of the top KPop artists to the country, Exo’luXion was the first full-length concert performed by Exo in the Philippines (various subunits of the group have visited the country previously).
The concert series was one of the most anticipated shows of 2016, and expectation had been building up since last year, hence the frenetic atmosphere. Fans scraped together their savings, allowances and Christmas aguinaldo to cough up enough money for the tickets, which ranged from P13,250 for VIP/floor area (which, by the way, did not include any seats) to P2,650 for general admission.
Not all of the fans were Filipinos. Many of them were Koreans and we also spied a smattering of non-Asians—proof that Exo’s popularity is a worldwide phenomenon.
Not all the fans were teenagers either. We saw some parents, grandparents and yayas, surreptitiously bobbing their heads and tapping their feet to “Call Me Baby,” as well.
WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION
Like most KPop concerts (and unlike a lot of Western concerts which last barely more than an hour), Exo’luXion ran more than two hours. Exo sang about 22 songs from their catalogue, including their current studio album Exodus and their Christmas EP. These include “Growl”, “History”, “El Dorado”, “Baby Don’t Cry”, “Exodus”, “Call Me Baby”, “Love Me Right” and “Sing For You”.
The stage was massive, covering more than half of the floor and included sections that would elevate during certain parts of the show.
The lights and effects were nothing to sneeze at either. Fans who filled the Arena to the rafters flashed their lightsticks, forming a starry backdrop to the stage.
Only eight came to Exo’luXion in Manila: Suho, Chanyeol, Baekhyeon, Chen, Xiumin, Kai, D.O. and Sehun.
During one of their ments (spiels or talking portions), the boys explained they were especially thrilled to finally be in Manila (after an aborted previous attempt). Chanyeol was especially excited to have some bananas and mangoes.
ALMOST CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH
Those who scored VIP seats must have thanked their lucky stars. Because of the no-seat setup, fans were able to come real close to the stage and take great photos with their phones. And the boys were not afraid to come up to the fans either. Suho, D.O. and even Sehun kept approaching the crowd, while Chanyeol and Chen sat at the very edge of the stage, close enough to touch. He also grabbed one of the cell phones and took a selfie before giving it back to the owner (who must have swooned after, I couldn’t tell).
As concerts go, this was probably one of the most energetic ones we’ve seen. The heart of the group’s performances is their choreography, and though this could have been hampered by the reduced number of performers (Xiumin and Kai were sidelined by injuries and had to perform most of the time while seated), none of the fans seemed to notice. Nor care. It was all energy and fun all the way.
A group of fans delighted and entertained Xiumin by dancing, flash-mob style, to “Love Me Right” and “Growl”. He later excitedly told his friends that “they can dance like us.” Thus, did Pinoy fans earn a special nickname—PhiXo (pronounced “pi-so” by Baekhyeon), or Philippine Exo.
“I’ve never seen fans dance our dance, Philippines is the best, really,” said Baekhyeon, thereby earning the undying devotion of Filipino Exo L.
The show ended in a shower of confetti.
Leader Suho, who spoke in English, thanked the audience for making the Manila concerts something Exo would always remember.
“I am very happy because I think we have really become one through this concert. Today, we received a big gift from you,” he said holding up a banner prepared by Filipino Exo L that read “We always want to stay with you. Don’t go.”
“We also want to stay here with you!” Suho replied.
They promised to be back soon, with Sehun reiterating, “I can’t wait to be back, please wait for our next concert. Salamat po.”
So, Exo fans, let the fund-raising begin.