A 'Super'- sized show

Maria Jorica B. Pamintuan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - “Bring a white hanky, a lightboard, a blue glowstick, and I know you don’t know the members very well, but try to bring a banner with their names on it, anyway. Oh and come early, people are going to be lining up at Araneta as early as 5 a.m. And maybe you could memorize the fan chants, too!”

Hearing these words from my fangirl friend’s mouth, I couldn’t help but be shocked. When I asked for some information and advice about the Super Junior concert, I wasn’t expecting to be told to bring banners or be at the venue a full 14 hours before show time.

My friend’s suggestions were only the first of many surprises during the Super Junior Super Show 2 concert. Having only dipped my toes in the Korean-Pop pool, I had no concrete expectations — but I certainly didn’t see such a unique experience coming.

Still believing that this would be just another show, I ignored the advice I was given and arrived at the Araneta Coliseum at 5 p.m. The lines were already snaking around the inside of the building, but shockingly, everyone was still in good spirits, despite the heat and crowdedness. There seemed to be no strangers among the crowd — even I, a K-Pop newbie, was drawn into conversation with the people in line with me.

One out every four people seemed to be wearing a Super Junior fan shirt, while the other three people were carrying signs, blue glowsticks, lightboards, and binoculars. Oops. Maybe I should have at least worn blue, Super Junior’s fanclub color.

My lack of band support was more than made up for by the other members of the audience. The concert hall was a sea of people with little blue lights in their hands. Even before the start of the show, many sections were already waving their arms, as if practicing for what was to come (and, as I later found out, they actually were).

Everyone was pumped up — every time one of the five big screens on stage flickered, a cheer would erupt from the crowd. Within five minutes of taking my seat, my ears had started ringing with all of the squealing. I’ve heard my fair share of screams, but the SuJu fans who almost filled the Big Dome to capacity take the cake.

All the fans, from the bleachers to the VIP section, had a decent view of the huge circular stage specially designed for the concert. Complete with hydraulics, fireworks, and rotating platforms, the Super Junior stage was definitely as hardcore as the fans.

Of course, a fancy stage would be useless if the performers weren’t up to par, and the Super Junior boys — Kyuhyun, Shindong , Siwon, Sungmin, Heechul, Yesung, Leeteuk, Ryeowook, Donghae, Eunhyuk, plus Super Junior subgroup Super Junior M’s Chinese members Henry and Zhou-mi — knew how to work the crowd, performing over 30 songs.

Of those 36 songs, I knew only three — Sorry Sorry, a cover of Craig David’s Insomnia, and Puff the Magic Dragon (yes, the whole song!). But it didn’t matter that I didn’t know the lyrics or that I didn’t even understand the lyrics, because the whole concert was just pure fun.

Most of the time, I had no clue what was happening, but I think that’s part of allure. It’s a breath of fresh air from the usual concerts. After all, I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a kiddie song (complete with costumes and play-acting) performed right before a dance-off, and then a violin solo.

Add the occasional video, some cute animal hats and water guns, and you’ve got a very interesting show. Another segment that was really entertaining was the band’s spoof of K-Pop girl group, f(x)’s hit Chu~, where five of the boys donned girl clothes and wigs.

A good thing about the show was that each member of the boy band had his moment, performing a solo or a duet. All of them were introduced one by one at the start of the concert, and the boys all took that opportunity to show off their skills, from Kyuhyun doing the moonwalk, to Filipino-favorite Donghae running at full speed around the stage. Shindong received loud cheers from the audience after reciting several newly-learned Tagalog words, like Pasensya na po! and Ano ba ‘yan?

However, for most of the songs, at least six of the 12 Super Junior members were onstage. On such a big stage, it was often really hard to keep track of them. I’d see their faces on the widescreen, and then I’d scan the whole stage looking for them. With the hydraulics and all the stairs, they appear and disappear so easily!

Each time one of them would enter the stage, the fans would go wild. Since almost every five minutes one would exit and enter, the whole show was full of frenzied cheering. The squealing grew particularly loud during the dance performances, Supergirl, and Sorry Sorry.

While Super Junior’s talented members account for the success of the show, it can’t be denied that a large part of what made the concert so amazing was the level of audience participation.

Filipinos are known for singing along to practically every song an artist performs in concert here, but in this case, the lyrics were literally foreign (although many audience members actually knew how to speak Korean). Ever appreciative of talent, the largely-Filipino crowd still found a way to express their love for Super Junior — importing the K-Pop concert culture completely.

Throwing mementos on stage for the band members, bringing all the necessary props for full participation in the songs, memorizing the fan chants, all these the Filipino crowd did. When the boys brought out the water guns for their song Carnival, the audience responded by having a water gun fight with their idols on stage. When Super Junior sang Marry U, the fan chanting was thunderous.

The amour the fans showed was equaled by the band. In a video, Super Junior thanked their EverLasting Friends (ELFs), the term their fans use to call themselves, afterwards performing Shining Star. They dedicated the song to all their supporters, from those who have been with them since their debut in 2005, to the people in the audience, who like me, were appreciating their music for the first time.

It was a great night, and everyone in the audience was brought to their feet. Well, except for a few boys who were forlornly watching their girlfriends/sisters/friends go crazy — but, who can blame them? I imagine it’s really difficult to compete with 12 hot guys grooving on the stage. I can now understand why Super Junior is so popular with the female population.

Someone once asked me, “Why do so many people like Super Junior?” At the time, I didn’t know the answer. Now, I do.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor and posing for the fans, laughing at a bunch of condoms thrown onto the stage, grabbing a fan’s camera and taking a picture of her with another SuJu member, playing with the gifts the fans give, performing tirelessly for almost three hours straight — all of these show just how much Super Junior love their fans.

And that’s the reason why their fans absolutely adore them.

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