Members of Big Bang performing during their ‘Big Bang Alive Galaxy Tour’ concert at Mall of Asia Arena on Oct. 24 (Photo and caption by Jonathan Hicap)

MANILA, Philippines – Big Bang, one of Korea’s most popular boy bands today, finally held the highly-anticipated Manila leg of their Alive Galaxy Tour last night, and it was undoubtedly one for the books.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the last few years, you would know that Kpop has been gaining steady popularity in the country and is at its highest peak today, what with everyone still reeling over the aftereffects of international viral hit “Gangnam Style” by singer PSY who, incidentally, is under the same agency as Big Bang (YG Entertainment). While few and far between and usually with hefty ticket prices, concerts by Kpop stars more often than not end up getting sold out early. It’s no surprise then that the non-Korean music-listening majority would wonder what exactly about “those Koreans” that makes their ardent and usually young fans scrimp on their daily necessities to save and ultimately shell out money worth, say, what a brand new smart phone would cost.

Starting just about 20 minutes late – and when you’re in Manila, that’s already a good thing – the Big Bang concert opened with a visually-stunning AVP of a spaceship hovering over what seemed to be thousands of miles above the Earth’s atmosphere, deploying five space capsules containing band members G-Dragon, TOP, Seungri, Daesung, and Taeyang. The curtain, which also served as the screen, unveiled to reveal these capsules with the members inside them singing a short intro titled “Alive.”

And from there on it was just one high-energy live performance one after the other, with the boys performing their latest releases “Monster,” “Blue,” “Fantastic Baby,” and “Bad Boy,” to name a few. They also treated the audience to some of their older hits, like “Lies,” “Gara Gara Go,” “Love Song,” “Tonight,” and a stripped down version of one of their most popular songs to date, “Day By Day.”

The concert ended more than two hours later with encore performances of “Heaven” and “Last Farewell,” and reprises of “Bad Boy,” and Fantastic Baby,” among others.

What’s always overwhelming about Kpop concerts is the audience turnout. As seen in last night’s event, despite it being held at new Mall of Asia Arena located south of Metro Manila, on a weekday (on a Wednesday no less, which is also known as Baclaran Day, one of the busiest days in Manila), the ridiculously expensive ticket prices, and the inclement weather that decided to make its presence felt that evening, the arena was packed with fans collectively known as VIPs.

And the VIPs, they definitely got their time and money’s worth. Aside from seeing these performers in the flesh, Kpop concerts always have these elaborate production set-ups, and we’re not just talking about the stage design. There are the AVPs that actually tell a story depending on the tour’s theme, pyrotechnic display, and quirky props – in Big Bang’s case, there were a bicycle and a sparkly Segway, to name a few. Completing the whole set-up are the fans. For some reason, “fan unity” is more felt in such concerts, what with them carrying light sticks of a common design and donning outfits and accessories expressing their “affiliations.”

In between performances, Big Bang members would speak to their fans in English and a few Tagalog words they probably picked up from fellow YG artist and former Star Magic actress Sandara Park, or Dara of 2NE1 who, judging from her recent tweets, watched the concert as show of support. With not much of a language barrier – which is already common in Kpop concerts, what with other groups having just one or two members able to speak in English – and perhaps also the group’s “Filipino connection,” Big Bang was able to build rapport with the audience. Members professed their love for the country a number of times, telling the crowd that they’re having a grand time and that last night’s audience was the best they’ve had so far, and promising to return soon.

In the meantime, VIPs have memories of the first Big Bang concert in Manila to tide them over until then.



TAEYANG always VIP*.*