It has been a dream of mine to attend an SM Town concert. For those who don’t know, SM Town concerts are a collective of all artists under SM Entertainment, performing in one night and for over 3 hours! Now considering you are seeing SNSD, TVXQ, Super Junior, SHINee, f(x), BoA, Kang Ta and now EXO all in one night, you can see why it’s an epic concert!
Being an ardent K-pop fan, I got to know of an SM Town happening in Thailand back in August itself. I just needed a confirmation and when it was formally announced, I couldn’t let go of this opportunity. The date worked perfectly for me as the 24th of November was the Yee Peng Lanna event in Chiang Mai. An event I’ll blog about later, but long story short, I now had two big reasons to visit Thailand a fourth time!
But unfortunately, my ordeal wasn’t as satisfying as the concert ended up being. First I had to get tickets. I was hoping Thai Ticket Major would be the usual website from where I could get tickets, but no. Instead, SM had partnered with mobile and cable operator True Corporation and the booking website to go to was webooking.com. They announced the date and time when tickets would go on sale and I waited for the day to come.
11am Thailand time, 9:30am in India, was when the tickets would go on sale online. I woke up at 9am on a Sunday and kept hitting refresh until I could see the ‘Buy Tickets’ button come up. At 9:29am it did. I knew I wanted one 5000 baht ticket in the A2 section. But when I clicked on the section and chose my ‘seat,’ (A2 & A3 were standing sections) I couldn’t buy it until the entire seat layout loaded. Yup, seat layout for a freakin’ standing section! And by now the servers were showing signs that it was getting hammered by traffic from K-pop fans just like me desperately trying to buy tickets. When I finally got the ‘Buy ticket’ button to pop-up, it then told me the seat had been taken! This same thing happened to me thrice! And when I tried a fourth time, all the ‘seats’ showed red. As in fully booked. Grrrh!
Frustrated and upset, I decided to try for a seat in the A6 section. And I got one there. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I at least got something. But when I came back home after 4 hours and went to webooking.com just to check if the entire concert was sold-out, I was surprised to see it hadn’t. And guess what… when I clicked on the A2 section, 5-6% of the seats now appeared in white – as in, available and open for purchase! I was like: “Awww man, now what?”.
I then decided to go ahead an book a seat in the 5000 baht section. I figured, I could easily find a buyer for the A6 ticket I had – right? I wasn’t happy that I spent 9500 baht (Rs. 17,195/US$309) when I am still technically without a full-time job. But what to do. A Sone’s got to do what Sone has to do to see his favourite idols.
Sadly, my ordeal didn’t end there.
Upon landing in Bangkok, I wanted to collect the physical tickets so that I could easily sell the 4500 baht ticket I didn’t want. But when I went to the big True branch in Sukhumvit, they told me to check with another branch. I took the MRT to the Central Rama 9 branch. There I waited but was finally told by the staff to go to the Central Rama 3 branch. I took the MRT and a taxi to the branch with the webooking.com counter where after being charged a 20 baht service fee, I was told “no have ticket, come tomorrow”.
I told them I couldn’t do that because I needed to leave for Phuket that night and that I would collect it at the venue. I was very frustrated sitting in the taxi back. As if the 9500 baht wasn’t enough over-spending, I spent in excess of 200 baht going around for nothing! Waste of time and made my experience in Bangkok even worse.
Anyway, on the day of the concert, I chose to stay near Victory Monument because I read I could get buses to SCG Stadium (the concert venue) easily. After much directional pointing by locals, I found a long queue of young fans holding K-pop merchandise, so I knew they were all going for SM town.
Fortunately a girl in front of me spoke decent enough English and told me that this line was for a van taxis to Muang Thong Thani. She told me not to worry and just follow her. I sighed relief knowing I had a local who could help me 🙂
The venue was over 15kms from the Victory Monument area and took nearly 30 minutes to reach. Traffic was piling up so I was a bit glad I chose to leave early. Of course, that and the fact I had to collect my tickets and then sell the 4500 baht ticket before I could go in!
There were thousands of K-pop fans, stalls selling all sorts of K-pop merchandise and a big festive atmosphere all around. I held a piece of paper stating I had one extra ticket for sale. Once I got my tickets, I was approached by a few fans and touts. I just wanted to get my 4500 baht back but most were offering less. I didn’t want to sell to the touts because they were obviously going to sell it for profit. But seeing the thousands thronging inside the venue, I was getting restless. I finally gave up and sold it to a tout for 4000 baht. I was just desperate to get in and find a good spot.
Finally! The last time Above & Beyond played in Bangalore, I missed it. I hoped they would return but I never expected my favorite trance outfit to return like this. I couldn’t believe Submerge managed to snag an epic event like this and bring the group down to Bangalore for it! Trance Around the World, my favourite trance podcast, episode 450 – which they announced at the end of episode 449 would be their last – was going to be transmitted live from Bangalore!
Six hours of amazing trance with other Anjunabeats artists such as Jody Wisternoff, Andrew Bayer, Norin & Rad, Mat Zo, and finally Above & Beyond taking the stage for a two-hour set. Since I knew I couldn’t dance for six hours straight, I only made it to the venue at around 5:30pm just as Andrew Bayer was on stage.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of Submerge, an institution that started out as a platform for Indian DJs back in 2002 and which has since grown into a tour de force in the promotion of electronic dance music in India. You’ve really got to hand it to them. Even Nikhil Chinapa said he never expected they would get this far, but all the applause he got from the crowd was well deserved. Sunburn Festival, all the international DJs they bring to India, and the Submerge nights… Nikhil has done EDM in India a world of good!
As for videos from the night, here are a bunch of clips recorded on the Samsung Galaxy SII (also used for all the above photos). You might want to turn down the speakers as I was close to the stage, and so there’s a lot “brrrr brrr”. Also, if you’re epileptic, you have been warned!
I wanted to put up this post that very night the concert ended. But considering I only got back to Hong Kong around 2am, I was too damn tired to do anything but sleep. To say it was a hectic day would be an understatement — but I’ll write about my Macau experience when I begin my Hong Kong travel series.
This post is going to be all K-pop!
I chose to go to Macau on 2nd July, 2012 (Monday) because the K-pop Nation concert was happening that evening. I got up early and took the ferry from Hong Kong in the hopes of reaching Macau airport before the flight from Incheon (Seoul) landed at 10:40. That didn’t go according to plan for reasons I’ll rather talk about in the Macau post, but long story short, there was no need for me to go to Macau airport. You see, my biggest (K-pop) dream is to see the members of SNSD up close and in person. But as soon as I got past immigration, I saw a bunch of Shawols (SHINee fans) waiting outside. I was wearing my custom-printed SNSD t-shirt when a considerate girl approached me and told me in her limited English that SNSD arrived yesterday night at this very terminal! She told me it would be of no use to stand around if I was hoping to see the girls.
I thanked her for that bit of information, but as disappointed as I was, I thought “what the heck” and waited to at least see SHINee up close.
Despite the hour long wait, my experience of seeing SHINee (or whatever I could see of their faces – I couldn’t even see Taemin’s face), lasted less than a minute. Just like that it was all over. There were sunglasses and other things belonging to fans scattered on the floor in the frenzy as girls ran all over the place to get a glimpse of their idols. But fortunately nobody got hurt, and SHINee’s asshole manager didn’t punch anybody either.
I left the ferry terminal and took the bus to The Venetian Macau to get my tickets to the concert as my return ticket back to Hong Kong was only at 11:45pm. I got the HK$780 (Rs. 5,500/$100/€82) ticket and decided to spend some time sightseeing until sunset.
As the clock struck 8pm, a DJ came on stage and started playing some dance music to pump up the crowd.
And then, seven guys walked on stage. Then walked off. Then walked back on again.
The organziers were pretty strict about anyone recording video, but some people (as always) managed to record fancams.
After two songs or three, every group would take a break to introduce themselves to the audience. The audience had a laugh when one of the B.A.P members said something along the lines of: “… I’m excessive to be here”. He meant “excited” but that’s not how we all heard it 🙂
After B.A.P’s energetic performance, it was now time for the big guns of K-pop. The hugely popular SM Ent. artists were up next. I was a little disappointed to not see Minho since SHINee are not Super Junior — even if one member is missing, their choreography just doesn’t feel right.
Or at least that’s what I assumed he was talking about, because he spoke in Korean and the translator only spoke in Cantonese(?). Maybe Minho was filming his drama.
After “Sherlock,” I assumed “Hello” or “Replay” was next. But no. The boys looked at each other and awkwardly just walked off stage waving goodbye to the audience. I was like: “huh?”. The deal was that each artists would perform five songs each. I assumed SHINee would do an encore of two more songs later. At least that was the hope.
It was really funny, but at the same time we all wondered what was going on. Here’s a good fancam of the goof-up(s):
The girls were about to walk off stage…
The DJ came back on again and some of us waited to see if there was going to be a encore. I was hoping for more SHINee, but there was none. The announcer said ‘thanks for coming’ and I left the arena.
Well, kind of. I can now say I saw Girls Generation live in concert. And U-Kiss, B.A.P and SHINee. Add to the fact I’ve seen Jay Park and three-fifths of BIGBANG, I guess I’m lucky to have seen enough K-pop acts compared to most fans back in India. On the other hand, K-pop Nation 2012 wasn’t a well put together concert. For something that promised to be an unique show with the artists interacting with the fans and sharing stories… yeah, there was none of that. Pretty much all the interaction went like this: “We are _______” “Hello Macau, I am _______” “What’s up Macau, how you doing?” “Our next song is _____” “Goodbye Macau, we hope to be back”. That’s it – standard concert talk. In fact, SNSD spoke the most, and it was thanks to technical difficulties.
As much as I loved seeing SNSD, it was B.A.P’s set that I can say was the best without any bias. Their segment was if that’s how they would have done their stand alone concert. From start to finish, their act packed quite a punch. So I appreciate the effort they put in putting on an impressive show for what was a multi-starrer concert.
I’m proud of the fact SNSD were pretty much the only group who didn’t lip-sync! Every other group danced well, but didn’t bother singing live (did B.A.P sing live? some vocals sounded like it did). Girls Generation did both live, and were funny… god, tell me why I love them so much again?
It would have been cool if the venue was sold out as the experience could have been wilder, but that’s what you get when you price a concert out of the reach for most K-pop fans (who are really young). I know K-pop concerts in general are more expensive (heck, I’ve seen world famous David Guetta and Metallica for less!), but I can imagine the cost of bringing down such acts to such a small place like Macau, and that too in an expensive venue. Still, it’s baffling to see how many seats were empty for a concert that had U-Kiss, SHINee and Girls Generation in the line-up! That last group alone could fill up a stadium.
Of course I would have wished I was closer to the stage so I could see the girls better, but in some ways I’m glad I only paid HK$780. SNSD barely came forward to the smaller stage up front, so there was quite a bit of distance even for those who were seated in the most expensive section. It would have been nice if they had like a T-shaped stage, but anyway… I’m saving up and hoping for an SM Town in either Singapore or Bangkok later this year.
Otherwise the concert was alright. Oh yeah, there was one moron who showed up with his girl to the venue and accused me of taking his seat. I didn’t want to argue with him so I just let him sit in my seat. SNSD were just finishing up “Gee” and I wanted to click as much as I could before they left the stage. I don’t know what his problem was.
All-in-all, looking at the above photos, I’m happy I was there. My love for K-pop remains the same and I don’t think my urge to see the SNSD again has died down one bit.
As for the rest of my day, I’ll begin writing about my Hong Kong trip soon.
P.S: I did take a few more photos of U-Kiss and B.A.P, so if any of you fans/clubs want to see those, just ask. I’ll e-mail them to you. I didn’t take any videos as the Canon 450D can’t take videos, plus I didn’t want to get into trouble as the usher was right behind me.