Though I spent 13 days in Thailand, I thought I’d get this story out first.
When I won the contest to go see Linkin Park live in Abu Dhabi during the F1, I had to postpone by trip to Thailand. At first, the dates were Nov 17th to Nov 28th, a Sunday, so I could get back to work on a Monday. Then I heard about Jay Park’s fan meet happening in Bangkok — so I pushed my return date to the 29th!
Now, if you’re someone who reads my blog or is wondering, who the hell this guy I pushed my dates for is, here’s a brief intro on Jay Park. Park Jaebeom, is a Korean-American (though more American than Korean) artist who gained fame when he became a member of a Korean boy band called 2PM. He was the group’s ‘leader’ and with their smash hit “Again & Again,” they were one of the hottest boy bands (both in terms of fame and appearance) in Asia.
And then, controversy. Apparently he said something on his Myspace page (back when people still used Myspace) about how much life in South Korea sucked (he’s a third generation Korean American born in the US) and that riled up a few Koreans. Demanding an apology, they asked for action to be taken against Jay Park. 2PM’s label said all is well but then a few months later, bad news. Jay Park is out of 2PM.
Fans are shocked. Mostly because JYP didn’t make it public as to why he was “fired” from the group. All that was mentioned was that he did something worse than saying “South Korea sucks”. What it was, nobody knows… which pissed off fans even more.
Jay Park soon left South Korea and made his way back to his home town in the US. Tears were shed at Incheon Airport by 2PM fans but to no avail. “Leader” Jaebom Park was officially out of 2PM, and the country.
Months pass and no word on what the guy is up to. And then, he pops up on YouTube and decides to sing a cover of “Nothin’ On You,” the then fresh single by debut rapper B.O.B featuring Bruno Mars. His version became sooo popular that he actually released a version of his own and a Korean version of the same featuring B.O.B.
Jay Park is now signed to Sidus Entertainment, another Korean agency and announces he’s going to be appearing in a dance flick called Hype Nation out in 2011. Jay Park has always said he loves b-boying more than anything so it seemed like a natural fit that he stars in a movie on the same (though, its not like there hasn’t been others).
So when did I become a fan? When he teased a single from the movie called “Demon”. I can’t really share a link or anything… because the single hasn’t been released yet.
I heard it for the first time back in August I believe and since then, the initial performances have been since removed from YouTube. It was from a performance he had done in South Korea and the audio wasn’t very good. But even despite that, from what I heard, I loved it! It’s a killer track!
Produced by the legendary Teddy Riley, “Demon” was a song originally written for Michael Jackson, and now posthumously given to Jay Park. Either his label paid shit loads for the song — or even Teddy Riley realized Jay Park is destined for greatness and agreed to give him the song.
None the less, “Demon” is going to be featured on the soundtrack to Hype Nation, so I’m guessing the music video (even though they have already finished filming it) isn’t going to come out until a few months before the movie does.
Anyway, coming to the Thailand fan meet. I booked my ticket while I was in Chiang Mai and I opted for the 1000 baht (Rs. 1500/$33) seat because… well the guy hasn’t even got an album out, so I was going just to see him perform “Demon”. Plus, I didn’t want to sit so close to the speakers because when recording, the only audio I would have gotten would have been the thumping bass… plus a lot of girls screaming.
It was on the 28th of November, a Sunday evening, held at the Royal Paragon Hall — which is located on the 5th floor of the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok city. I got there by around 5pm as I had to collect my ticket. There was quite a line already.
After standing in line for nearly 45 minutes, I make my way near the counter only to be told I only had to go to another counter for online bookings.
Oh well. Once ticket in hand, the next queue was for the security check. I came fully prepared with all my lenses, extra batteries, extra memory card and with my Canon 70-200 f2.8 in tow, I wasn’t worried about being so far away from the stage.
But guess what, I put my bag on the other shoulder and made it past them! Woo hoo!
Unnnfortunately when it came to the gates, where security were checking handbags, they saw my DSLR and asked me to hand it over to the folks in charge of taking away cameras.
I went in with lenses, but no camera body to fit those lenses onto. Well, at least I still had my phone.
Once inside, I got my seat. The hall wasn’t sold out, but had a very good turnout none the less.
At around 6:30pm, the lights go out. The crowd (mostly girls) start to scream! And then two Thai MCs come on stage. I obviously didn’t understand what they were saying but I’m pretty sure they were asking if the crowd was ready to see Jay Park. Obviously, we all were.
So the hall goes dark again. And then:
The girls sitting beside me were going crazy! This was a ‘sit down’ show, and in their excitement, I expected them to stand up to get a better view. But they didn’t. They were just jumping and shaking in their chairs. I couldn’t help but laugh!
Anyway, after kicking off the show with his cover of “Nothin’ On You,” the lights dimmed once again and then a video came on screen:
After the performance, Jay came back on stage and was joined by the two Thai MCs for a Q & A session.
Sadly, that’s all I could record. Security came by and told me to stop recording — and then went around telling everybody else the same. They were pretty strict about it henceforth.
During the Q & A, the questions were fairly childish and basic. Like what he likes to do in his free time, his hobbies, etc. Jay Park looked lost most of the time, mostly ‘lost’ in translation. The hosts didn’t seem well prepared either. Took ages for one of them to understand “bromance” and when it came selecting 3 girls to come on stage, oh boy, did that seem like ages.
Three lucky fans did get a chance to get up close with their idol though.
One of them even got Jay to draw something for her, one of them got to squeeze his nose and the last girl got to hug him. There were fans who had come from Indonesia and Hong Kong; but since the guy who came from India was sitting all the way in the back, he wasn’t noticed :/
Jay Park was also joined on stage by his b-boy crew Art of Movement.
The hosts were asking the audience what they’d like to know and when it came to asking for secrets about Jay Park, Cha Cha from the AOM crew said “Jay likes to bathes himself in hot sauce,” to which Jay LOL’d. Not quite sure if he meant Jay just loves hot sauce or he actually likes to smear hot sauce all over his body.
The crew left the stage and said they’d be back for their performance, which I was so looking forward to. When they did perform, the minute I raised my phone to try and record, the security came by my row. Sucks.
Anyway, it’s not like Art of Movement doesn’t have videos on YouTube.
There was also a performance by rap duo The Quiett & Dok 2. They performed two songs, along with the usual rap instructions: “Throw your hands up in the air” and “Say ‘Yeeeahhhh’…”. There were okay. Then Jay Park returned to the stage and joined the rap duo for a song.
Other songs Jay Park performed were “Speechless” with ChaCha (who wrote & produced it). Jay Park also hit the stage with a cover of Jay Sean’s “Down” and Usher’s “U Got It Bad”. The roof came down during “U Got It Bad” when towards the end, Jay Park finally did it — he ripped off his vest. I’m sure the girls got their money’s worth.
The last song Jay Park performed was “Bestie” and the entire AOM crew came on stage to join the performance.
After that, he and AOM said their goodbyes and left the stage. Immediately, some got up and began to run towards the exit. Maybe they just wanted to head home quickly or wanted to pick up their cameras. I know I sure wanted to, so I got up as well. And then the Thai MCs came back on stage.
Again, they were speaking Thai so I couldn’t understand but I got the drift they were asking if we enjoyed the show. Also, they pointed out to the fans making their way out as if to say “You’re leaving? You think it’s over?”
Guess what, it wasn’t! Jay Park along with the AOM crew hit the stage once again for a dance off…
After another stellar show of their dance skills, this time the show was actually over. And everybody knew it.
After a good 2 hours of entertainment, I collected my camera and saw several fans queuing up again!
Of course, it wasn’t for everyone. It was open only to those who bought the most expensive tickets — 4500 baht (Rs. 6600/$150).
I wasn’t one of them, obviously, but I did finally get a chance to shoot with my 70-200mm lens.
Here’s just a few who were lucky:
Even though the fans were instructed not to get too physical or spend more than 2 seconds with Jay, some did manage to get what they wanted.
After 15 minutes of shaking hands and receiving many, many gift bags from his loyal supporters, Jay Park finally said goodbye.
With that, Jay Park left the building.
I pushed my dates just to see Jay Park for a reason. Ever since I heard “Demon” and started getting to know more about Jaebeom Park, the more I started to believe Jay Park is going to be a huge star. The guy can rap, sing and dance. He’s writing his own material with his friends in AOM and working with some of the biggest names in the music business.
Sure, the tickets were slightly expensive. But I can understand why. I can imagine how much it would have cost to not just bring Jay Park down, but his AOM friends as well (and not to mention his management staff too). Sure, I didn’t get to capture the event the way I had hoped to share it with everybody. It’s ok. I can understand if MTV paid for exclusive performance footage. It’s all business at the end of the day.
Sure, if I had a chance to ask him some questions, I would have asked him about his music. Like who are the other producers or artists he’s collaborating that we don’t know of yet. Or like, what date and time is “Demon” getting an official release! But I guess I’m in the minority. I’m a 28-year old guy who likes ‘Jay Park the artist’. Most Jaywalkers (mostly young girls) like him for his music, his 2PM legacy, his abs, his hair, his looks, his… anything!
And Jay Park knows that.
I know it’s too early to shower so much praise on a guy who hasn’t even come out with a full-fledged album yet, but I’m calling it now itself…
– Jay Park is going to be the break-out star of 2011
– won’t be surprised if “Demon” tops the Billboard Top 100
– the next big ‘Jay’ of Asian descent (the first being Jay Sean) and the first Korean-American solo singer to have a no. 1 single globally
I may end up being wrong of all the above, but even if I am, I still have faith in Jay Park’s talents. Even if he doesn’t crack the Western markets, he’ll still be crazy popular in Asia.
And I’ll still pay to see him perform. Maybe just a little bit more the next time.
P.S: He he, I even made an appearance on Thai television. Around the 0:53 mark ^_^