Monday, September 27, 2010

[NEWS]The night it 'drizzled' in Manila

MANILA, Philippines - Remember Elvis the Pelvis?

His signature pelvic thrusts thrilled `50s teenage girls and scandalized their mothers. Half a century later, a Korean pop star was eliciting the same reactions from Filipino concertgoers.

The Intensity concert featuring K-Pop acts Rain and U-Kiss and crooner Christian Bautista, certainly lived up to its name. Nightfall did nothing to cool down the electrified crowd. As the show progressed, the atmosphere at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds literally and figuratively got hotter and hotter.

Hours before the concert started, there was already an excited buzz inside the concert grounds. Members of the audience, most of whom were hormonal girls of all ages (from grade schoolers to their cougar moms), had already staked out their territories inside the venue.

Clusters of Filipino fan girls were constantly moving through the crowd, chattering excitedly about supposedly seeing their pop idols. Their Korean counterparts were similarly animate as they found ways of sitting on the ground without spoiling their fashionable outfits (many of them were also struggling to maneuver around the unevenly packed soil in their skyscraper heels)

Luckily, the crowd didn’t have to wait long for the show to start — a good thing, since most of the youngsters in the crowd looked ready to throw water bottles at host KC Montero for taking such a long time to introduce the night’s performers.

Front act Christian even acknowledged that he was only prolonging the crowd’s agony when, after his opening number, he said, “One song down, one song closer to U-Kiss and Rain.”

To his credit, Christian really charmed the crowd with the three song he was allotted to sing. The moment he walked onstage, the Pinay mothers in the audience were suddenly like teenagers again, swooning and screaming, “Ang gwapo mo, Christian! I love you!”

Their daughters who, at first, were subdued and looked impatient for Christian’s set to be over, were just as entranced by the time he sang the last line in his popular song, The Way You Look at Me.

The hardcore K-Pop fans in the crowd seemed to appreciate the fact that Christian started the concert with Wrong Number, his collaboration with the Korean pop band, One Way.

However, it was his rendition of Jose Mari Chan’s Beautiful Girl that really wowed the crowd. He asked two girls from the audience to come up on stage, where he serenaded and danced with them.

Unfortunately for Christian, his opening act was forgotten the minute the lights dimmed for K-Pop group U-Kiss.

Even though the Intensity concert is its third visit to the Philippines, U-Kiss still drew a large crowd. One fan girl noted that there were even more KissMe (Official U-Kiss Fan Club) members than Cloud (Official Rain Fan Club) members who watched the show.

Maybe the loyal Filipino following stems from its energy and playfulness when onstage. Aside from performing the hit songs,Bingeul Bingeul, End of the Road and Man Man Ha Ni, the U-Kiss members goofed around and showcased their individual talents, too.

Xander, one of the members most fluent in English, was very chatty, talking about the Twitter accounts of his six co-members, and happily proclaiming that he had eaten two servings of halo-halo that afternoon.

He and Kevin, the other member who is fluent in English, were like ringmasters orchestrating their groupmates’ antics. They made their friends dance like other Korean artists, including Rain.

“Do you wanna see a six-pack?” Xander asked the crowd, which went wild (as if he needed to ask). He and the other members of U-Kiss then proceeded to poke fun at Rain’s famous hip movements and his abs, which he is known to show off.

While this not-so-innocent fun kept the energy up throughout their set, it also made some mothers in the crowd uncomfortable. Those who had been screaming their hearts out for Christian had suddenly gone quiet and were looking mortified that their kids were giggling over guys’ butts and sexy dancing.

And it didn’t get any better for them when it was Rain’s turn to take the stage. The show had gone from sweet to spicy.

It seemed that Rain had put a damper on the moms’ night, but the young girls in the crowd probably wouldn’t have noticed if it started raining frogs because they were so focused on the K-Pop star and his smooth dance moves (most seemed to be waiting eagerly for Rain’s classic shirt-ripping, ab-exposing routine).

Rain scattered sexy steps into every song he performed — and his playlist was quite long. With titles like Hip Song and Touch Ya, what kind of show did the mothers expect to see?

The Rain fans in the audience, however, knew and eagerly anticipated the artist’s concert routine. One girl was hyperventilating (whether it was from the heat and humidity or excitement over Rain, we’ll never know). To keep from falling to the ground, she was clinging onto random strangers and singing along breathlessly to each and every song.

But overall, the audience lost the energy build up during the two previous performances. Maybe it was too hot or crowded, or simply because most people in the crowd went to the concert not for headliner Rain, but for guest act U-Kiss.

It didn’t help that there was not much audience interaction because Rain didn’t speak English. In fact, he barely said anything, except for two to three sentences in Korean.
Sadly, it seemed that as the concert flowed from sweet to spicy, the audience became less and less involved and interested in the show. There weren’t even any fan chants or fan projects for Intensity, unlike typical K-Pop concerts (even those held here in the Philippines, like Super Junior’s Super Show 2 held last March).

The two-level stage wasn’t maximized. The upper level was used once by U-Kiss, and the lower level was too low! Even from the just a few meters away, it was hard to see the performers over the heads of the people in front (and these aren’t exactly basketball player-tall people).

Plus, the ending was really abrupt. Rain simply sang his final song, said “Kamsahamnida (Thank you),” and left the stage. There wasn’t even an encore, and surprisingly, the audience didn’t clamor for one.

Whether it was because the actual weather was too hot, or because Rain’s performance wasn’t hot enough (audience interaction is a big factor!), the Intensity concert ended on a low note.

The moms may have thought his performance was scandalous as it was, but for K-Pop fans, Rain in Manila was really more of a drizzle than the deluge they’ve come to expect from Korean artists.

Credits: Kissmeukiss + Philstar.

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