The Korean boy group Victon (which somehow stands for VoICe TO New World) recently dropped by Manila; it was their first visit to the Philippines and last stop on their Voice to Alice tour, on the heels of their fifth EP, “Nostalgia.”
The Skydome at SM City North Edsa was packed to capacity, and before the show began in earnest organizers continued to bring in more and more chairs to accommodate the incoming stream of fans eager to see their chosen boy group. Some of the hardcore fans bore official Victon lightsticks, essentially wand-looking plastic toys with the group’s logo on the end, which can light up in a variety of colors.
These are usually purchased online or abroad, brought home through pricey shipping and customs or through friends and family traveling home. Some had identical headbands; many had official shirts and handmade banners with Hangul text. The crowd watched as medics appeared to treat a fan who had apparently tripped on the stairs and sprained his ankle; however, he refused to leave, opting to remain in his row lest he lose his place. Victon songs were playing on the sound system, and the crowd would occasionally swell into a spontaneous group sing-along, especially during choruses.
Best thing ever
I had never heard of Victon before this. Before coming I asked two friends who were into K-pop what they knew about the group, but they hadn’t heard of them either. But inside the Skydome, that night, they were the Best Thing Ever. And when the lights went down, indicating the show was about to begin… The Screaming began.
In darkness the boys of Victon came out and assumed positions for their first number, “What Time Is It Now?” When the lights came on and the music started pounding through the massive speakers hanging on either side of the stage, The Screaming went up several notches. I want to say that “What Time Is It Now?” was a perfect opening song, lively and catchy, with great hooks and a propulsive beat, but I can’t, because I could not hear it over the aforementioned Screaming.
To my left, right and especially behind, a nonstop barrage of excitement manifested as shouting, shrieking and general histrionics ensued, lasting the entire length of the song, resulting in my not ever knowing what it sounded like.
I watched them dance, though, and like all K-pop groups they had their choreography down pat, with the ready smiles, inviting gestures, seamless switching of vocal duties and occasional side-quests of independent dance moves. They weren’t all dressed the same, though half had on sweater-vests with what looked like a school crest. Like half had played hooky from prep school to be with adoring fans.
After the number a host and an interpreter came out to join them, and the boys took their seats at provided stools. Finally getting a good look at them, I was reminded of the main characters of “Final Fantasy XV,” their pretty androgyny and meticulously coiffed locks, the hint of “bad boy” but also looking like they spent two hours to look this good.
Cameramen zoomed in so close to their faces we could see their cheeks redden as they blushed from the attention, which led to further screaming, and the cycle continued.
In my notes I referred to some of them thusly: “John Cho Jr.,” “The One Who Raps,” “Ruby Rose,” “Bangs,” “Captain?” I based it on what made an impression: looks, of course, but also behavior in “Captain”’s case, and “Bangs” because they were the perfect length that they always fell over his eyes, prompting him to play with his hair so he could see better, which led to more Screaming.
A Q+A took place, with questions culled from the crowd while they were in line outside. We learned they love to swim in their hotels while on tour, their intentions to perform here (this fan meeting a way to gauge interest, one assumes), what they do in their spare time. Then there was a slideshow of their photos while on tour, exactly like returning family members from vacation do. There would also be requests from the audience to reenact certain “cutesy” poses from the photos. Again, more Screaming. Byung-chan was made to act like a kitten, which the crowd lapped up. The group were taught the word “pabebe.”
Then the group sang “I’m Worried” while seated, a more casual number. After that they left the stage while a video of them playing a game was shown. Then they came back out and danced to “New World” (no singing), before moving on to the next portion, a kind of dance-off where the group, split into two teams, would dance signature moves from singles while the fans identified the song. Another brief Q+A followed, they performed two more songs, and then another video played. They came out again, said their goodbyes to the wild protestations of the faithful, then did two more songs before the “show” proper came to a close. At this point it was already three hours in, and apparently there was an opportunity for fans to line up and shake the group’s hands.
As an oblivious observer surrounded by Alice (as fans are called, whether singular or collectively; it stands for Always We Love the VoICE), some of the excitement and enthusiasm rubbed off on me, hysteria via osmosis. I tried to remember the last time I loved a group so much that I would expel so much energy destroying my vocal chords just to show affection. It’s great that the local Alice of Victon got their chance, and with luck the group will be back for a full-on concert.