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.
I joined the queue
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.
I was getting a bit claustrophobic as I hadn’t eaten a proper lunch in the hurry to get here early. Plus the heat and being surrounded by sooo many people… it was getting to me.
As if two security checks outside weren’t enough, there was one more inside the arena too
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.
The stage setup, the sound, the impressive venue… it was all really well put together
I really enjoyed Andrew Bayer’s set — pure trance at it’s finest
Next up was American duo Norin & Rad
Didn’t dance a lot to their set, although they were great in getting the crowd pumped up
A good hour-long set none the less
Submerge says dance, and dance we did!
I still couldn’t believe after all this time I waited to see Above & Beyond in concert, it would be for a live recording of the final episode of the trance podcast I’ve been listening to since 2006!
Mat Zo, the final ‘warm-up’ act took to the stage for his hour-long set
His set was much better!
They had streams of colourful cloth spreading through the crowds. It was symbolic for it is the graphic that represents Group Therapy Radio – Above & Beyond’s new radio show
As the clock struck 8pm, it was now time for the main act. The crowd went wild as three men took to the stage.
(L-R) Paavo, Jono and Tony – or better known as the legendary Above & Beyond! I won’t mention their DJ Mag ranking… mostly because I don’t give a shit how high they rank!
Needless to say all of us were going bonkers seeing all three of them on stage together (Usually two of them go on tour while one stays back in the studio)
The end of Trance Around the World and the beginning of Group Therapy Radio episode 001
The played classics from like “Liquid Love” and even some world-exclusive first listens. If it weren’t for ‘Tri-State,’ I wouldn’t have heard of Above & Beyond.
But of course, there’s always that one moron who keeps shouting for “Sun and Moon” right from the start. Ugh. (They played it towards the end of course)
Epic six-hour long live broadcast ended with an epic shower of confetti!
Paavo and Tony seemed pleased
So were we
I began to leave the venue as they closed out with “Good For Me” (from ‘Tri-State again). I was kinda disappointed they didn’t play “Good Day” as it was the one song I was so looking forward to singing as loud as I could.
But this being a ‘good night,’ play “Good Day” they did. Although it was the vocal mix. Still, it didn’t stop I or anyone else from singing along.
Nikhil Chinapa, who is one of the men behind Submerge, then took to the stage to thank his home crowd for an amazing night
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.
SHINee fans had been waiting long
But SHINee was to land in Hong Kong only at 2pm
The boys wouldn’t land in Macau for another hour
I can see how this is appropriate, ‘cos you know, SHINee are South Korean… and practically everybody is playing Diablo III right now!
As it neared 4pm, the screams began
But as they quickly made their way out of the ferry terminal, there was one tall guy missing: Minho
Sorry for the blurry shots, but it all got a bit crazy as you can imagine. I couldn’t use flash either.
It got chaotic pretty soon
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.
I headed back to Cotai Arena around 7pm. Although I had to handover my Canon 7D camera and tripod to security, I still managed to keep my Canon 450D in my bagpack
This is Cotai Arena – and my HK$780 seat was in front of the girl in white top
As the clock struck 8pm, a DJ came on stage and started playing some dance music to pump up the crowd.
All the glowsticks up in the air gave a good indication as to many seats were unoccupied
The concert was far from ‘sold out’. A good 40% of the seats were vacant. The HK$780 I paid was the fourth highest in a six-tier pricing — meaning there were three more ticket prices that cost more.
And then, seven guys walked on stage. Then walked off. Then walked back on again.
They kicked off their performance with their best song to date, “Neverland”
The boys performed “Believe” “0330″ “Bingeul Bingeul” and “Man Man Hi”
But it was fairly apparent that the boys were lip-syncing
Which was kinda disappointing considering how good they are as live performers
The organziers were pretty strict about anyone recording video, but some people (as always) managed to record fancams.
Next up were a hot rookie group
B.A.P began their set with an R&B ballad behind curtains before unveiling themselves
They sang all their singles to date: “Warrior,” “Burn It Up,” “Unbreakable,” and “Power”
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
Despite the fact I’m not a huge fan of them…
… B.A.P put on one heck of a performance! I was really impressed!
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.
But come out as a four-piece SHINee did
They began with with “Lucifer”. I had a blast singing along to the whole song, as it remains my favourite K-pop song!
But despite the expected awesomeness that comes with being SHINee… they were lip-synching too
After performing “Stranger,” they paused to speak to the audience. Jonghyun also explained why Minho wasn’t here tonight.
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.
The crowd went wild when “Sherlock” came on
Fans were itching to chant/shout “SHINee’s back!”
“Oh-I’m-curious yeah…” Love that chorus!
Taemin is such an energetic dancer
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.
Anyway, the DJ came back and I got ready for the final act
For it was now time for the pink glow sticks to come out!
Because it was now time for the biggest act in the concert line-up
The loudest cheers were for this group
Heck, they’re the main reason I came to Macau today
I spent $780 mainly to see them
Because they’re my absolute favourite group in all of K-pop
SNSD a.k.a Girls Generation!
It was only because I was this far that I could manage to fit all nine of them in one frame
The girls ‘kicked’ off their set with “Genie (Tell Me Your Wish)”
I wonder what Yuri found funny
“Macau, put it back on!”
And that was song number one
Next up was “Run Devil Run”
Poor Sunny – the shortest member right behind the tallest girl in the group
As impressive as their choreography usually is, it’s funny when you capture such frames. Looks like they’re creepily trying to exit the stage
The girls then took a break to introduce themselves
This Jessica admirer got his message on the big screen
Sooyoung raises her hand, Sone raises his hand — just when I click. Ugh.
Hello dorky leader
The girls introduce the next song
Time to “Hoot”! And thanks again Sone’s hand. Ugh!
But just before hitting the first chorus…
… the music suddenly stops!
Best part? Taeyeon goes: “Surprise!!!!”
The girls make small talk while the team behind the scenes try to sort out the technical glitch
When the music began a second time, it was time to go “Down, down, down” again
Seohyun was doing her line before the first chorus
And the music stops again! And Taeyeon went: “Surprise!” – again! LOL
But thoughtful ‘manager’ Tiffany still gave a shout out to the technical team for their efforts. While Yuri checked up on Sooyoung.
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…
Just then the song restarts a third time… the girls embarrassingly walk back to their positions
Third time proved to be a charm as it went without a hitch
The girls followed “Hoot” with “The Boys”
Which was a moment everybody was waiting for as we finally got to shout “GG!” at the top of our lungs
Ahh, hair freeze moments
Seems everybody but Tiffany had their hair moment LIKE A BOSS!
You don’t realize just how cramped for space SNSD’s choreography is until you see them live. How do they not bump into each other?
“Girls bring the boys out!”
Confetti began to rain even though we had one more song left
The girls spoke one last time before getting into their final song (that’s Taeyeon doing a jig)
TaeNy is so real, it’s no joke!
Everyone was up on their feet and ready to fan-chant like crazy for the final SNSD song
For it’s SNSD’s signature song, and the one that introduced me to the group
“Gee, gee, gee, gee, gee, baby baby”
Even though I’m tired of hearing “Gee,” seeing it live is another feeling altogether
Confetti marked the end of the girls’ performance
The crowds were pleased, and so was I!
Ignore the empty seats below, the upper sections were full
The girls cheerfully walked off stage with Yuri giving us all a big “muaahh”!
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.
I collected my Canon 7D and tripod and made my way out
Next up, B2ST and 4Minute!
So was it worth it?
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.