How EXO left the fans hyperventilating

Patricia Esteves (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos’ adulation with K-Pop continues and nowhere is this more evident than in the recently sold-out and jam-packed two-day concert of Chinese-Korean band EXO, one of Korea’s hottest boy bands today.

The members, composed of Chanyeol, Sehun, Kai, Baekhyun, Suho, DO, Xiumin and Chen, outdid themselves, performing non-stop for three hours, dancing and singing to a total of 36 songs. The other member Lay was not able to join the concert because of previous commitments in Korea.

Thousands of hyperventilating teenagers and not-so teens alike swamped the Smart Araneta Coliseum to watch their idols dish out their brand of music.

After a short video clip depicting the members with superpowers, the heartthrobs opened the show with their debut song MAMA. Clad in a shiny red jacket and black overall outfit, they quickly segued to their current hit song Monster where they showed off their expert and intricate dance moves.

After the second song, the group moved on to dance to a remix of Wolf where all members once again danced in synchronized, power moves.

The boys then took a break onstage to greet their fans who they call EXO-Ls.

All sweaty and panting, the group’s leader Suho expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to perform once again in Manila. This is their third time to hold a concert in the Philippines and they said each year keeps getting better. The guys uttered Tagalog words “Mabuhay” and “Mahal kita,” eliciting the most deafening screams from the audience. Xiumin, one of the Chinese members of the group, said he was glad that he’s able to dance this time because last year, he was injured and was sidelined to the side of the stage while his fellow members were dancing.        

Chanyeol, who studied English in the Philippines when he was in middle school, said he would always have deep affection for the country because of the time he stayed here. The members seem delighted at the ear-splitting scream of the fans and Kai, the dancing machine of the group, said he was not feeling well but feels energized by the screams of the fans.

After the greetings, the members eased into their soft and laidback tracks, starting with White Noise, Thunder, Playboy and Artificial Love. The next set was all about ballads as EXO first sang Unfair. Chanyeol then strapped his guitar and strummed while the members sang to a medley of laid-back songs My Lady, My Turn to Cry, Moonlight and Love, Love, Love while sitting on the stage.

The audience, who knew EXO’s songs by heart, sang along with the boys on the acoustic version of Call Me Baby. The Big Dome became a large karaoke jamfest.

The next set came and EXO members came back with powerful performances via Tender Love and Love Me Right. A dance interlude from Kai and Sehun delighted the crowd with One and Only, followed by DO, Baekhyun, Chen and Suho doing vocal histrionics on Stronger. An amusing video was shown, where members dressed as elves goofing around were seen. After the video, the group appeared wearing cone hats, tights and elf shoes as they sang Angel, XOXO, Girl x Friend and 3-6-5. Called the fan service portion, the members spread out to different areas in the stage to say hi to their fans.

You’ve got to give it to EXO members for their boundless energy on stage — a repertoire of 25 songs and almost two hours on the stage! Members hid their exhaustion and were always smiling and waving at fans. The next set came with EXO performing Overdose, Transformer and Light Saber.

What was highly commendable in the show was the grand production design. SM Entertainment did not scrimp on the lighting effects and pyrotechnics. In many song numbers, the boys’ performances were complemented by the spectacular and state-of-the-art lighting. Even the audience participated in the concert with their high-tech EXO glowsticks. Truly Korea is the leader in technology, even in staging concerts that are both spellbinding and magical.

The concert was down to the last half-hour and Chanyeol, Xiumin and Sehun performed an old school, hip-hop remix of Two Moons. One of the best portions was when Chanyeol moved to the center of the stage, strap an electric guitar, then moved to the tables to drop a mix of EDM and hip-hop beats as the rest of the EXO jumped and instructed the audience to jump as well. Then, they performed a remix of Let Out the Beast. At this point, the Big Dome was transformed into a pulsating club. The group finished the set with Lucky and Run.

They said their goodbyes but came back for the encore. Clad in jerseys, they appeared more relaxed and playful as they sang the last four songs: Cloud 9, Growl, Lucky and Angel. A CNN article recently debated that K-pop is past its prime what with the disbanding of major K-Pop groups. But in Manila, K-Pop remains a phenomenon and boy bands are still considered demigods. When EXO members promised to come back on an earlier date, the crowd grew wild, screaming and chanting, “We will wait for you.”

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