So, yeah. I was high, and I’m still trying to get back down.

Last October 24, Big Bang was here for their very first concert in the Philippines. The news alone a few months earlier was enough to make thousands of fangirls and fanboys weep with joy. I mean, when you live in the Philippines and you’re obsessed with a Korean idol group, the only way to get to see them perform live is to haul ass to South Korea or Japan or other countries where they frequently hold shows and concerts. Despite PSY’s Gangnam Style invasion, K-Pop still enjoys just a cult following in the Philippines, and few concert organizers are willing to invest in concerts of Korean acts.

Singapore was my go-to k-pop destination. All I needed was my passport, a cheap airline ticket bought months in advance, and the kindness of my friend Diane in Singapore who let’s me stay with her when I’m in town. I’ve been to K-Pop Night in 2010, and Korean Music Wave in 2011. Both shows featured multiple k-pop acts like SNSD and F.T. Island (another favorite!), and both had Big Bang as headliners.

But a Big Bang concert! I knew that would be a whole new different kind of awesome. Two full hours of nothing but my boys and their music. I have no idea what possessed Papa YG to decide Big Bang was going to do their first world tour this year, but I’m not complaining!

Now, I could’ve watched this concert the easy way, or the hard way. I ended up picking the hard way, because I was certain that would give me the best experience possible. I’m talking about the existential question fangirls ask themselves at least once in their lives: moshpit or reserved seating?

We checked out the seat plan and I knew there was no way I was taking the high-end VIP 1 and 2 seats. They were facing the stage from the sides! And once the boys moved into the extended stage in front, all you’d see were their backs. So we decided on lower box seats, because they were the closest to the extended stage and they’d be right up front. However, the crappy SM ticketing website apparently couldn’t take the traffic of a bazillion fans trying to buy tickets online so my concert buddy M. had to rush to the mall to buy our tickets. And by that time, all lower box seats had been sold out. (Later, it turned out that most of the seats were really just reserved, mostly by idiots who couldn’t pay for the tickets but didn’t want paying fans to get them either. A pox on your houses.) So we ended up buying moshpit tickets — VIP 3. This meant we’d have to be really, really early in line so we could get a good spot in the pit.

We were at the MOA Arena at 5.30pm the day before the concert. What followed was a sleepless night of camping out under the night sky just so we could be close to the front of the queue. We were there in a large group, so we could go for bathroom breaks and meals two or three at a time. After lunch, I made a quick run to Newport to check into my hotel and take a shower (I lived too far from MOA but there was no way I was going to that concert unwashed so I booked a room at the Remington). Everything went as planned and we found ourselves in the 2nd row of the moshpit, right smack in front of the center of the stage.

Big Bang Galaxy Alive Tour
I had to leave my camera with security because they weren’t allowed, but M. took a photo of me with her phone. Yeah, we were that close to the stage.

Now surviving a concert moshpit is much like surviving a zombie apocalypse. You’ll need strength, stamina, and the ability to go for hours without a bathroom break. I purposely drank very little water so I didn’t have to go to the ladies room during the show, because once you leave the pit, it would be almost impossible to get back to your spot. I thought having survived the moshpit of the Korean Music Wave in Singapore would prepare us for this, but it turns out most concert-goers here have no sense of decorum in the pit. I tried leaving enough breathing room between me and the person in front of me so they wouldn’t be too uncomfortable, and a girl behind me took that as an invitation to cut in front of me. The people at the back of the pit kept pushing themselves forward so my friends and I felt like we were stuck in a wringer. M. gave up twenty minutes into the show and told me she was moving to the back of the pit where there was more room. So thanks, rude people. You know who you are.

Luckily the show was so amazing I was almost happy to suffer the body odor of the girl who cut in in front of me. (Still. Ew.)

G-Dragon was amazing, and I got to see what a great dancer he is. Taeyang loved standing in the very edge of the extended stage, in the center, and flirt with the audience. I was hoping he would do a somersault and he did! It wasn’t perfect, but hey, I was happy. Daesung sounded even better live — I missed him at Korean Music Wave last year because he was on hiatus. And he was so cute up close. He threw the contents of a water bottle at the audience at one point, and I was happy to get drenched. Seungri seemed the most excited of the five. He looked like he was ready to jump off the stage! T.O.P. seemed a bit aloof at first, but he warmed up pretty soon. I didn’t think he could help himself — he got the loudest screams of all the individual members. In fact we couldn’t understand a word he said because every time he opened his mouth, everyone would go nuts and start squealing. Nothing really prepares you for how gorgeous the man is in person.

It was like this insane dream. I didn’t realize how amazing it is to be there with your fandom singing along to your favorite songs. I didn’t know the lyrics, so I tend to just sing whatever I thought the Korean words sounded like. The videographer caught me and a few girls singing enthusiastically to “Lies”. Even though I was singing the wrong lyrics, I didn’t care.

At the end of the show, we just milled outside the exits, funny smiles on our faces. There were thousands of us out there and so few cabs passing by, but it’s like we didn’t care whether we got home or not. It was Big Bang’s first concert in the Philippines, and we were there! My throat was sore and I was borderline dehydrated, but we were all giddy and excited. After about an hour, we realized we had to get to the hotel and get some sleep. And food. I completely forgot to eat lunch that day, and dinner was a hotdog we grabbed while lining up inside the Arena.

We found a cab. First stop was the Newport mall, where we had a proper meal.

Big Bang Galaxy Alive Tour Manila - after-show dinner
Me and M. were happy to be able to sit down for a proper meal! At the Murray’s New Orleans Bourbon Street.

We still of course had our concert paraphernalia with us.

Big Bang Galaxy Alive Tour Manila - after-show dinner with props

See you at next year’s Big Bang world tour, VIPs!

By Tania Arpa

Thinker, writer, skeptic, spy. Geek. I do my own stunts. Follow me on Twitter at @TaniaArpa.


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