[This is not a concert review nor a report but a jumble of thoughts]
It was short of a miracle that I was able to watch CSPH. Typhoon Mario aside, I wasn’t really planning to watch but a friend took the trouble of giving me patron tickets.
I should have been in Ha…waii but somehow I landed in Ha…noi before making my way to Manila. It required a lot of bargaining and manoeuvring to work out my schedule at work. The things I have done for a band that I’ve been a fan of for only nine months… I haven’t even done any of these for Arashi in all my nine years as a fan (unless stalking them in Gwangju for the Asia Song Festival in 2006 and queuing up in Yokohama for concert goods in 2007 even if I didn’t have a ticket to get in count).
But I digress.
I didn’t realize there was a typhoon in Manila. I thought the typhoon was in Honolulu, pun intended. Until I arrived and our plane was stranded on the runway for three hours. It could have been more but I didn’t count because I spent the entire time sleeping while other passengers were fuming and trying to use their phones.
After two more hours and forever waiting for my luggage, I finally managed to get out of the airport and the full impact of the typhoon confronted me. I realized I was lucky to have landed safely. It must have been meant to be, CNBLUE and I are so real I swear. I mean, seriously. C’mon.
I guess not even Mario could stop CNBLUE and the show must go on despite the glaringly empty sections (arena and stands). Understandably so since many were unable to come due to the weather conditions and tickets were not sold out (the local promoter was still selling tickets the day before). If not for my free tickets, I wouldn’t have come too (of course my plane ticket especially since I had to take a detour was more expensive than the ticket price). Let’s face it, and I am still in shock over this, Kpop concert tickets are very expensive for the average Filipino. Of course it is not cheap to bring foreign acts, logistics and production cost alone would mean you have to pay a premium price. But compared to J-pop overseas concerts, I find K-pop still more expensive.
Regardless of the circumstances, CNBLUE’s performance that Friday night was energetic. My friend who watched the KL leg said it was definitely more high-octane. This was my third Can’t Stop leg and I feel I have come full circle.
I first watched them in Bangkok in May, which was the first overseas stop. That was barely a month after the Sewol tragedy so the band tried to keep the performance lowkey (plus a lot of coverage rules). It was my first time to watch them live, a few months since becoming a fan, and it was a record of sorts to watch them perform that soon. Despite the frogs and eyesore neon lights, I saw for myself that what everyone said was true. CNBLUE is best appreciated live.
The second time was in Busan, on the eve of Yonghwa’s birthday itself. What made this concert experience more memorable was watching the band perform You’ve Fallen For Me live, in the only double encore they have done so far on this tour. As a friend who was also there said, “no one can take Busan away from you.”
And now, Manila, which is the last overseas stop of this tour. Isn’t it a very poetic coincidence? Whatever, it’s still some coincidence that brings the circle to a close.
Props to Yonghwa, Jonghyun, Minhyuk and Jungshin for putting up a great show despite the conditions. I know it must have been frustrating for those who couldn’t go because of the typhoon but the show must go on and the band proved that they are professional rockers, rousing the audience on their feet and “making sorijilooo” as if the place was full to the rafters. That alone deserves admiration and gratitude that they gave the audience, including myself, a memorable show to take home with.
It’s been a very musically enriching nine months with CNBLUE. The band has provided the perfect balance to my J-pop preference. But, and I’d be candid, it has also been a very vexing period. The fanwars, the over-delusions that defy logic and reason (even gravity for how do they keep sailing), the rabid fans, the infighting… these are just a few of the things one has to deal with in K-pop. Not that they are absent in J-pop, of course not. But in K-pop, and particularly in this fandom, it’s magnified a hundred times more.
So many times I have wanted to just leave the fandom but I have met friends along the way who know better and some have witnessed it all, from the best to the worst. “Isn’t CNBLUE’s music worth supporting? Isn’t their music bigger than the antis? Just ignore,” one advised. Easier said than done but I have been trying having learned from recent experience. However, I still think it’s easier to just fangirl on your own except that no fangirl is an island. That’s what makes fangirling fun, the interactions. You can’t spazz alone, otherwise you’d look cray cray than those who croak incoherently from the dark muddy fields.
For sure, I have learned a lot not only about music but about fandoms, fandom culture and fandom politics. It’s been a very interesting learning experience and I am glad to have met many wonderful people, learned about the music of CNBLUE and saw a piece of the Korean pop culture.
My rule as a writer is, always write what you know. And this precious whirlwind of an experience has given me a peek into a culture that is interesting and fascinating. I do not know nor understand everything, but I have gained some insight.
Thank you for the music and the friendships.
For now, I have come full circle. I can finally stop.
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