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.
As soon as the gates opened and the security check was done, I began to run. Because so did many other youngsters! And by youngsters, I mean Linkin Park fans!
Instead of wasting time, I decided to go all the way up to Avalon Club at Marina Bay Sands to find out when The Chemical Brothers were set to hit the stage for the F1 After Party tonight. The Linkin Park concert was surely going to end past midnight and I didn’t want to miss The Chemical Brothers. After all, I paid good money to see these both these acts!
I asked around the club when The Chemical Brothers would take the stage for their set but no one could give me a definite answer. They guessed it would be after midnight, and well after the race.
The reason I came all way to Avalon Club is because when I tried calling them earlier, no one answered. I had good reason for concern. When I tried visiting their Facebook fanpage yesterday, it had been deleted. I wanted to know how Friday night’s party (LMFAO and Ludacris) went but there was nothing! (Avalon has a new page now with a different Facebook url)
I went back to the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre where the Forbidden Broadway show had began.
Even though I had never seen a Broadway musical live, I still got most of the jokes. After all, if you watch enough Glee or follow popular culture, one would have found this show funny. I enjoyed it, it was good change from the usual concerts.
I parted ways with Niranjan and we agreed to catch up after the race. I decided to watch the race for a bit.
I got bored and walked back to the concert ground. My opinion about watching an F1 race remains the same. When I watched the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a grandstand seat in 2010, at first the prospect of it sounded exciting — but it soon got very boring. Be it seated or even with these walkabout tickets, watching cars whizz by at speeds in excess of 100kmph gets boring pretty quick. Given how loud these cars are too, you can’t even hear the on-air commentary through the speakers until the cars fade away.
But the Singapore Grand Prix is an experience like no other. First of all, the city is the circuit! That too the impressive central business district, which looks even more impressive at night. They don’t set up most of the grandstands until a few days prior to the race week. It’s an event which really showcases Singapore’s glamour — something the government is really good at marketing.
If you want to see the entire concert, this guy filmed it — but don’t assume the crowd was lousy based on that video. The crowd was much better on my side! It was a better crowd than at the Abu Dhabi concert, all thanks to the Zone 4 ticket prices which made it affordable for real fans of Linkin Park to come see them. Something the mostly younger fanbase couldn’t afford in Abu Dhabi.
For a band that has yet to perform in Bangalore, I feel quite privileged to have seen them twice. The setlist was slightly different (at least the order of songs) from the Abu Dhabi show late last year. Of course, in Abu Dhabi, I actually met Mike Shinoda in person! That luck didn’t repeat itself here in Singapore.
My 2011 Singapore F1 experience was finally over. I truly got my money’s worth! For SG$138 (Rs. 5000/$110/€83) I got to see Linkin Park, Shakira, a bit of Shaggy, 3/5th of K-pop supergroup BIG BANG, Charice, Rick Astley, an off-broadway show, samba dancers, etc. — and cars racing. Beat that for value! Had I not stepped out of the circuit to go around town with Aimee, I would have seen much more. The organizers definitely did a better job this year as far entertainment went. In 2010, they had a pregnant Mariah Carey headline on Sunday. Yeah, don’t ask. My friend Ramesh attended the race last year and he told me how bad it was!
As I exited the concert grounds, I bumped into another friend from Bangalore who told me he attended the Friday party with LMFAO and Ludacris at the Avalon Club. He told me the experience wasn’t great. That… didn’t sound to good to me. None the less, I exited the circuit after catching up with Niranjan and his wife.
I said my goodbyes to them and took the MRT to Marina Bay, which was on its last journey for the night.
As I entered the club, there was a sign outside stating an apology for Saturday night’s Sander van Doorn party — which was cancelled. This was yet another sign implying something wasn’t right about Avalon. It was too late for me to bail out though, I had no choice but to go in.
Once inside, I wasn’t too impressed. One, despite its exterior, the dance floor didn’t look that big for a big-name club. Two, what the hell is this?
It really irritated me. It’s as though the management didn’t want us to see if the DJ was even there! I made my way through the smoke and to the DJ stand, where there was no one playing a live set at the moment. I went upstairs because the smoke got nauseating after a while, plus it was really hard to see.
I ended up chatting with a few youth who had come down from Indonesia just to see The Chemical Brothers. We were excited and danced away when any Chemical Brothers track came on. An hour passed and after the popular tracks like “Star Guitar,” “Do It Again” and the epic “Hey Boy, Hey Girl,” I stopped dancing. The smoke machine was still on and I began to wonder if The Chemical Brothers were even performing live!
The Indonesians left after a while and I felt like leaving too. That is until I looked outside…
For something that was branded an ‘F1 After Party,’ I didn’t see many who even remotely looked like they were part of the major F1 teams. No drivers, nothing. Just a bunch of fat men who were ordering pricey vodka bottles and had Asian girls much younger to them on either arm. It wasn’t the crowd I was expecting for a Chemical Brothers gig.
It was nearing 3am, and I wanted to leave so badly. I didn’t care about the SG$83 I paid for this ‘party’ because I needed to get some sleep . I still had things to do before I left Singapore later in the evening of the 26th (which it already was). After Boy George ended his set and before the next DJ began his, I left. It was still drizzling, but I placed my handkerchief to cover my head. I was told by the staff at Avalon I could get taxis in front of the convention centre at Marina Bay Sands. I went through the Shoppes to the bus stop in front and waited.I showed my hand to many taxis that passed by, none of them stopped. Some were full, some were not — and there were quite a few of us in need of a ride home.
Fed up, I then walked to dropping point at the casino, to try my luck there. All the taxis that stopped here were already booked or weren’t taking any passengers. A bunch of Indians from Mumbai were frustrated and said if it were back in their city, they would have already gotten a rickshaw or a taxi in a matter of minutes. It’s true.
I was getting really angry at this point. It was still drizzling, I was wet and sleepy. Past 4am at this point, I then walked to the Marina Bay Sands hotel lobby hoping the reception could call me a taxi no matter what the cost. At the lobby, I was then shown to the dropping point where an snake-line had already formed, and where many like me were waiting an awful long time to get a taxi. An Italian woman who looked like model was frustrated at the notion of waiting this long to get a taxi at an “$8 billion hotel”! Couldn’t help but agree with her to an extent.
Many in line were fuming. Some tried the old ‘slip some money in the hands’ of staff to get an advantage, but the staff declined. But it didn’t matter. Some people saw that and started shouting at the staff over preferential treatment — even though the hotel employee didn’t show any. One taxi that did stop by demanded SG$500 from some Westerners who needed to go the airport. The taxi driver got a “Fuck off!” instead.
I stood there quietly, but very, very frustrated. Eventually I got fed up as the line wasn’t moving as fast as I hoped. I asked the staff when the MRT would open and he told me 5am. Fuming, I walked in the drizzle to the MRT station as it was only few minutes until 5am.
Got the first train, and finally reached Central mall. I didn’t take the overbridge, I just hopped over the divider and crossed the road. Yeah, I jaywalked, I didn’t care! I was so frustrated with how my night turned out after what until Avalon, was such a good day! Never going to make this mistake again. Another lesson learnt? Carry an umbrella at all time when in Singapore.
As soon as I got to my room, I took off my socks and slept. There was little else I was in the mood for.