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Entertainment

A fangirl’s account of Stray Kids’ 2-day Unveil 11 concert in Seoul

Arielle Pizarro - The Philippine Star
A fangirlâs account of Stray Kidsâ 2-day Unveil 11 concert in Seoul
Top, from left: Lee Know, Han, Hyunjin, Changbin, Seungmin, (bottom, from left) I.N, Felix and Bang Chan with surprise banners from their fans a.k.a. Stays.
Photo from @Stray_Kids official Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — Nothing ever really prepares you for the moment an artist you love takes the stage at a concert. Try to collect yourself as you might, but nerves, thrill and the dread of missing a moment are bound to collide once the music comes on.

Seeing Stray Kids at Seoul’s KSPO Dome on both days of the 2nd World Tour MANIAC Seoul Special (UNVEIL 11) was like that. Where was I supposed to focus? The choreography? The close-ups onscreen? Both? Only once Bang Chan, Lee Know, Changbin, Hyunjin, Han, Felix, Seungmin and I.N began greeting Stays (Stray Kids’ fanbase) did I really manage to compose myself.

It comes as no surprise to anyone that Stray Kids are explosive performers. But it is one thing to see proof from a computer screen, and another entirely to witness it in person. The former is entertaining. The latter is life-changing.

The most glorious part of the show was Thunderous, with majestic stage visuals and full, booming instrumentals that emphasized the theatricality of the whole stage. On top of that, Changbin’s iconic “I’m not Oh Changbin. Who am I?” spiel was more than effective in hyping up the crowd even more.

A short break then came in the form of special stages from the members. First day attendees had the pleasure of hearing a sweet rendition of La La Land’s City of Stars by Aussie boys Bang Chan and Felix, and then a cover of Honey by J.Y. Park from talented meme kings Lee Know and I.N.

Stray Kids on stage saying goodbye to their fans on day two of Unveil 11 concert.

For day two, Changbin and Seungmin blessed us with their version of 2NE1’s Lonely, while Hyunjin and Han surprised the crowd with a duet of Han’s SKZ-Record Wish You Back.

Aside from the first-ever live performance of Time Out, one highly-anticipated segment was the spoiler performances for Stray Kids’ upcoming album Maxident, out on Oct. 7.

The group’s producing team 3RACHA (Bang Chan, Changbin, Han) dominated the stage with potent confidence through a song named after their unit. Sharp-eared Stays were pleased to hear a familiar line from unreleased track Passion in the song’s ending.

DANCERACHA (Lee Know, Hyunjin, and Felix) were next in line for Taste, a seductive track about an obsessive love. The trio amped up the sexiness to a level rarely broached by Stray Kids, leaving us to wipe our sweat and pick up our jaws from the floor afterwards.

Wrapping up the spoiler stages were VOCALRACHA’s Seungmin and I.N, who switched up the mood with the playful rock love song Can’t Stop. It’s my current favorite Maxident spoiler stage, but don’t trust me. I have a different answer every day.

Being present for both days taught me new things about each member’s onstage persona. Firstly, Bang Chan is as magnetic and charismatic as the rumors say, whether he’s performing or addressing the crowd. Then there’s Lee Know, who remains my favorite dancer in the team, but may now be my favorite vocalist, too. Changbin, on the other hand, is an unstoppable force onstage — the group’s most commanding presence, in my opinion.

Hyunjin is fiery and graceful, true, but has a sweeter air about him than I thought. Han is a flawless, electric performer and a natural comedian. And Felix is, indeed, sunshine personified, but unleashes a unique allure during performances.

Seungmin has a radiance that no fancams have captured perfectly, and his voice is heavenly. Last but not least is I.N, whose skill of communicating emotions with his face makes his already brilliant singing and dancing even more captivating.

The biggest surprise of the night was when the members appeared in spaceship-shaped carts that ferried them across both ends of the dome for Astronaut and Airplane. It was a special treat for those of us in the upper floor, where there was little to no expectation of seeing the members up close.

Stray Kids pose for upcoming album Maxident to be released on Oct. 7.
Photo from @Stray_Kids official Twitter

My Korean seatmate and I disregarded language barriers in favor of calling each other’s attention to point at whichever member was coming closer to us. We didn’t use words, but we got our points across through mutual squealing.

I was ready for it the next day though. With the nachimbong (Stray Kids’ lightstick) in my left hand and phone camera in my right hand, I positioned myself so that I could fangirl and take clear videos without blocking anyone’s view. Much yelling was still involved, but this time in English since my day two seatmate and I both spoke the language.

I’ve often said that nothing has felt real from the evening I got my concert tickets. I floated through the weeks leading up to my trip, and it was probably only when we were singing You Can Stay to the boys that the reality of it dawned on me. I wiped my tears, voice shaking as I sang along in poor Korean.

And just like that, the members were already saying their goodbyes.

A tearful Seungmin said that since he brings many precious memories with him from concerts, he finds it difficult when he’s back in his room by himself. For that final night, he said he would “leave just a little bit (of his heart)” behind.

The boys descended from the stage one by one after Haven, after numerous expressions of gratitude to Stays. Seungmin was the last member to go.

The author at Seoul’s KSPO Dome all set to see the Stray Kids.

He glanced back at us, palm on his chest where his heart is, then made a gesture of ripping it out and dropping it. Then he was gone, and we were left there with Seungmin’s heart onstage and a vague twinge in ours.

My heart throbbed with lightness on the commute home. It was a good ache — one that told me I left a piece of my heart, too, and thus had more room now to fill it with new memories.

CONCERT

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