Just this October 27 I joined my first-ever concert experience with TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) for ACT: LOVE SICK at the Mall of Asia Arena, the last stop for their first live concert world tour.
An atmosphere unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. On the way to the area and from the car window, I could see massive lines of excited fans sprawling across the various entrances of the arena. In the crowd and along the sidewalks were also vendors selling different kinds of merchandise such as lightsticks, fans with the artist’s faces, photocards, and even albums. The pavement was illuminated by light coming from an enormous screen on the building’s side advertising the event. It was surreal seeing all of these in person, the atmosphere is totally different compared to the brief clips of the seas of concert-goers I’d see on the news. As soon as I arrived to meet up with my friend who accompanied me, I was treated to a concert culture I had no idea existed. She told me to approach this person who was giving out bracelets that had their names written on them. Asking her to go with me because I was too shy to simply ask for something free, I apprehensively positioned myself behind her like a child with his mom as she requested for one on my behalf — I got the one with Kai.
After grabbing a small bite and waiting for the line to somewhat subside, we made our way inside. My next set of freebies, someone handed me a couple of fan signs to raise during the performance to show the group our appreciation for their hard work. On the side, there was a sizeable group of people waiting for their turn to take a couple of photos at an installation with standees of the Korean boyband’s members. We made our way upwards to our designated area, we were to be seated at general admissions.
This is it. While walking around the arena’s vast perimeter, I would hear singing, screaming, and cheering. Feeling the goosebumps, I’d murmur“This is it!” to myself, feeling that after months of waiting, the moment I’d finally be able to watch a group I’ve come to adore in person after watching them for so long through a screen, has finally arrived. I had to take in as soon as we got to our seats. It was a beautiful sight. Thousands of fans were singing along to the music videos being played on the large display on the stage as we waited in anticipation for the concert to begin. Nothing was really happening yet but the crowd would get excited whenever they’d see any member in the video, even if I’m sure they’d all already seen it.
The concert begins. Soon enough all that anticipation would come to fruition after the boys Yeonjun, Taehyun, Soobin, Beomgyu, and Huening Kai emerged from backstage to meet the roaring cheers of their fans. They started us off with their hit song ‘0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)’, hitting every beat with their sharp and precise moves, all while nailing every note with their powerful vocals. Following that, they performed other tracks such as; Magic, PUMA, LO$ER=LO♡ER, CROWN, Magic Island (my personal favorite), Blue Hour, Frost, Anti-Romantic, and Good Boy Gone Bad among others. They would do around three songs at a time, taking short breaks in between to swap out their microphones, earpieces, and outfits. Throughout the almost three-hour affair, they would also take time to talk to and spend time with their MOA (the name of their fandom which stands for ‘Moment of Alwaysness’ to show that the group and their fans would always be together) — it was honestly amazing having the concert where it was, given the similarity in acronyms. During these moments they interacted with the crowd, and each member shared their thoughts on how much finally meeting them and getting to perform live after so long meant to them. They would ask everyone what their favorite performance was so far, only to be replied with an incoherent mass of replies from everyone that went. At one point, each member gave their best shot at impersonating one of their members, Yeonjun, mimicking his rap lines in their songs, an endearing instant that had everyone shouting ‘aww’ after each attempt. Soothing our Filipino hearts, Taehyun also sang a brief cover of ‘Akin Ka Na Lang’ by The Itchyworms, nailing every word as if he had known the language for a very long time.
After closing the main event with the title track ‘Good Boy Gone Bad’ from their latest EP ‘minisode 2: Thursday’s Child’ they took a brief break before returning back for their encore. Moving away from the stage and into the crowd, they sang ‘Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go,’ ‘MOA Diary (Dubaddu Wari Wari),’ and ‘Our Summer’ and said their final goodbyes as it rained confetti all over the stadium.
Admiring their professionalism. It is fairly common knowledge that K-Pop idols have to undergo intense training prior to being debuted to be physically able and skilled enough to sing and dance at a high level for long periods of time. However, I was pretty much in awe of their talent throughout the concert. Running, or any form of cardio is already tough on its own, try singing while doing so, oh and also for around three hours with barely any breaks in between sets. They would do around three to four songs at a time, alternating between high-energy choreographed performances (while singing mind you), and unchoreographed ones for ballads and slower tracks, all without compromising the quality of their voices despite fatigue. And, they were actually singing live! A faint backing track would play in the background to allow them to breathe in between lines, but their raw voices would cut through all the noise. Every so often I’d also hear heavy breathing from their microphones, showing how much effort they were exerting to give everyone the best show possible.
Favorite Moments. The entire concert was pretty much a whole core memory on its own, but if I had to choose my favorite moments from my time there, two specific ones come to mind. First, their performance of ‘Frost’. Essentially bringing the house down, the already powerful song brought so much energy out of the crowd with everyone including myself, hyped up and singing along with every fiber of our being. Weirdly my other favorite moment was the brief pause after the end of the main event, and before the encore. In those few minutes in dark with the only source of light coming from the crowd’s lightsticks (the moabong as it is called), everyone repeatedly shouted out the group’s fanchant. “Choi Soobin, Choi Yeonjun, Choi Beomgyu, Kang Taehyun, Huening Kai, Tomorrow by Together!” they would all say again and again and again. It just stuck out to me, hearing the passion and adoration for their favorite group behind their words as they said this to no end without growing tired, unforgettable.
From where I was standing, no matter how much I enjoyed the concert, I could feel that I was mostly observing the happenings compared to actually being in the moment and being fully immersed in the experience. After all from general admissions where the members were as small as ants in my sight, I could not help but do so. But during the performance, TXT would occasionally bring up that they wanted to come back soon to the Philippines for an even bigger and better show. Regardless of when or where that is, you can bet that I will be going there, maybe VIP this time. Salamat TXT, see you all again soon.