With the global pandemic uprooting what we all know as “normal”, the thought of attending concerts now seems like a fever dream that’s left just out of reach. While live streaming and YouTube content can satiate our needs to see our biases and future spouses—us girls can dream—for now, it’s safe to say that nothing compares to being in the midst of it all: the sore throat-rendering screams, the sweat-soaked bodies bouncing in synchronization, and the communal love for music that ingrains each and every concert experience into the deepest recesses of our souls.
Right now, as the world is still testing the waters of what’s to be the “new normal”, we’re left with our memories and our deep, deep longing to be thrown back into the throng of fangirls (and boys!) and see our faves up close. So, to quell the ache in our hearts, we’ve decided to come together and recount some of our favorite concert experiences and everything we learned from them!
To preface this, you should know that the both of us have seen quite a few concerts together, namely: G-Dragon (our first together), iKON, GOT7, Seventeen (twice!), and Troye Sivan—technically also EXO, if you count the digital concert we attended in Seoul. So we think it’s safe to say that we’ve earned our veteran’s badges. LOL!
Ready to join us and relive our fangirl days?
THIS GOES WITHOUT SAYING, BUT BE EXTRA, EXTRA EARLY WHEN BUYING TICKETS. As soon as those concert dates are up, write it down on your calendars and do not, we repeat, do NOT forget to set alarms for it. Julia once slept through her alarm to buy EXO tickets (in Manila, this time) and woke up a solid four hours later. Needless to say, we did not go to EXO that year. Don’t be a Julia. For online ticket buyers (especially for those wanting to watch Korean idol groups), expect a LOT of lag and the need for multiple attempts to get into the website, because believe us when we say that K-Pop stans are CRAZY. Have your account ready beforehand to cut the time needed to log in!
It would also help if you and your buddies tag-teamed then split the costs afterwards, just to have more chances of nabbing those precious tickets! For those buying tickets in person, we’ve learned it’s best to go for the malls that aren’t usually as populated (e.g a smaller SM) because you’ll SURELY catch more people camping in the larger main malls. We elected to go to a smaller mall with a ticket outlet right when it opens and found that the line was actually pretty manageable! Just remember to be there around 1-2 hours before ticket selling to be extra, extra sure!
SEATS. Personally, we’ve experienced concerts in various parts of venues: from all the way at the back in Gen Ad for G-Dragon’s ‘Act III MOTTE’, to Upper Box for Troye Sivan (where organizers bumped our section to Lower Box), to Lower Box for SEVENTEEN, and to VIP for iKON and GOT7. It goes without saying that the closer you are, the better your view is, so when it comes to deciding your seats, be sure to have a budget set aside and to set your expectations accordingly.
Every concert is gracious enough to have a gigantic LED screen anyway, so the view of G-Dragon’s gorgeous jawline was still very much visible to us in the very back. Keep in mind that VIP tickets tend to come in 6-digit figures, and while we do admit that it’s A LOT of money to pay upfront, the miraculous view of Mark Tuan’s biceps or BOBBY’s bunny smile up close are really unforgettable life moments. BUT, it also comes with the pressures of extreme body heat, being carelessly shoved about, and straining your neck because the sis in front of you won’t put her phone down. Besides, other sections have seats and the opportunity to set down your belongings–pros and cons to everything!
It doesn’t make it any less fun to vibe in non-VIP sections, so don’t feel too pressured to shell out the cash!
LIGHTSTICK. A K-Pop concert experience just doesn’t feel really complete until you’re waving this in sync with everyone else to the beat of the songs. It’s such a special, goosebump-inducing moment to be able to see the venue light up with the lightsticks specially designed for each fandom. Many fan projects also make use of the lightsticks, and seeing them turn different colors thanks to bluetooth tech is just a whole ‘nother level of awe. Trust us when we say, you will experience complete and utter FOMO if you don’t have one in hand on the day, so canvas from trusted sellers months ahead. There’s a lot of sellers out there who do group orders (G.O.s) way ahead of time. Your lightstick will arrive literally in the nick of time for concert day. Do yourself a favor and purchase ahead. You will save yourself an infinite amount of stress down the proverbial road. Pro tip: your batteries should be the alkaline kind and taken out right after the event—lest you forget it inside and it leaks.
VIBE TO THE SETLIST BEFOREHAND. You can usually find these online prior to the concert, especially if the group has been on tour prior to landing in Manila. Being the addicts that we are, we usually have these on repeat for around two weeks (a minimum, at least) just so we have the main parts, like the iconic lines, down pat! It also wouldn’t help to try to know the lyrics at least phonetically, so you can still sort of sing along even if it’s in Korean and you have no idea what you’re saying. By concert day, you should be singing along like a karaoke pro! LMAO!
MEMORIZE THE FANCHANT. There is NOTHING more heart-melting than hearing an entire venue chant at the same time. We have shed literal tears because of this alone, and trust us, you’ll feel like you’re part of something so, so much bigger if you join in. And if you’re a SEVENTEEN stan, then it’s also the perfect way to practice and jumpstart your rap career!
PREPARE YOUR HEART as well as your mind. The experience will still definitely rock your world and blow your mind, but it’s best to come prepared. The crowd will be intense. The whole experience will leave you shooketh. Seeing your bias in real life? Girl, it might just send you to an early grave. So keep in mind that while the rush is amazing, keeping your wits about you through the whole ordeal will keep you first and foremost, safe. Your biases do not want your falling over yourselves just for them. Please bear that in mind.
PREPARE YOUR SIGN. What’s a sis got to lose? A chance to get noticed by your bias, or one of his members, maybe. Note that your sign is the same size as everyone else’s! So keep it witty and easy to understand—remember, your oppas are Korean. Make it flashy and colorful or maybe even neon! A surefire way to get them to see it is that it’s readable and eye catching. Also, be doubly sure it’s organizer compliant and small enough to fit in your bag too!
COORDINATE YOUR LOOK WITH YOUR BUDDY AND THE THEME. Something we both love doing is coordinating our outfits with each other, so we tend to wear complimentary colors or clothes with similar levels of hoe-ishness. For K-Pop stans, your groups usually have fandom colors, so we like to play it up with those too! Going to see GOT7? Green Ahgase eyeshadow! Going to the iKONCERT? Wear something red! Not only is it super cute, but it’s also so fun getting decked out for a concert and seeing other people do it too. Also, pro-tip: don’t wear jewelry in case it gets stolen, or caught on people and their hair. That’ll be a nightmare.
BRING EXTRA MERCHANDISE CASH. Both of us are notorious impulsive buyers when it comes to merch and knick knacks, and as much as we say we won’t spend on a thing, we WILL end up spending on the thing anyway. Our Troye Sivan experience is quintessential impulsive buyer behaviour: we walked in completely confident that we wouldn’t buy the hoodie because we were outraged by the price (it was around P3,000 or so), yet ran immediately to the merchandising stall right after the concert because we were just so engrossed in the moment and needed (yes, NEEDED) memorabilia. If you’re like us, prepare yourself, because it’s uber HARD to resist.
SET YOUR MAKEUP LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT. Sis, when we tell you you’re going to sweat, you are GOING TO SWEAT–most especially if you’re in VIP Standing. We both come out of concerts looking a hot mess every single time, but do the eyeshadow or blush fade? No. Why? Setting spray! Don’t believe us? See the gif below for proof that setting spray saves lives.
WEAR DEODORANT. We don’t know how much we have to drill it into you that the sweat is real. Keeping your pits dry isn’t just for your own comfort, but also a courtesy to the people around you. You don’t need to add to the eau de sweat already permeating around you. Do everyone a favor and bring extra for that ate gurl who didn’t put on deo. Also prepare for random kili-kili by your head or your shoulders. It’s a bit gross to think about, but it is inevitable. That random kili-kili will find you.
SECURE YOUR HAIR. This is mainly a Julia tip, because she was dumb and wore space buns to a concert in VIP Standing. Do you know what that means? Her hair got caught in literally everything: phone cases, light sticks, hands, faces, shoulders—you get the idea. Keep the mane neat and don’t be a Julia!
BUT ALSO, BE PREPARED TO HAVE ALL THE HAIR IN YOUR FACE. This is self-explanatory and is in conjunction with the tip above, but you will not exit the VIP Standing section without having a mouthful of hair on you at least once. And that’s not even the minimum, honestly.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BRING A SMALL BAG. This is not only for your own personal safety, as it sticks closer to your body, but it’s also to make sure other concert goers aren’t being harassed with your big ass backpack swinging around everywhere and hitting everyone in the face. Stick to your tiny purses or crossbody bags or fanny packs and pack only your essentials: mist, powder, a fully-charged power bank, phone cord, wallet, ticket, lipstick or balm or gloss.
EAT BEFORE THE CONCERT STARTS. Do not starve yourself pre-concert. You are going to need all those calories (and a bit more) because concerts are just basically one giant zumba class but with your faves! All the jumping around, getting squished in the crowd, and dancing around? You’ll be burning all those calories, sweetie—and not just the ones you gained from dinner.
While most fans are calm and happy and actually very nice, it is unfortunate to say that some can actually be mean and rude. We’re not going to specify which fandom they’re from, but people will and do fight and push. You must double down and stand your ground, sis. Jazz has gotten into numerous stare downs and confrontations because someone had shoved her too strongly or picked a fight for no reason. But don’t think everyone is out to get you, though! There are a lot of really nice stans out there that will help you wiggle forward and even give away free things. STANS TOGETHER STRONG.
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES OR YOU’LL DIE. There’s nothing more boring than being seated during a concert, and trust us when we say that NO ONE stays seated anyway. Save yourself the pain and wear something you’ll be comfortable standing in for at least 3 hours. Especially if you’re a SEVENTEEN fan because everyone knows that their encore with AJU NICE is basically a whole ‘nother concert in and of itself. Pro-tip: opt to wear platforms! They’re way more comfortable than heels and will help you see better if you’re vertically challenged–sorry, Jazz.
THERE IS A 90% CHANCE YOU AND YOUR BUDDY WILL GET SEPARATED IN VIP STANDING. So, we went into the venue for iKON together and were fully prepared to share this life experience with one another, right? Oh, honey, we were so wrong. It was our first VIP Standing experience, and maybe thirty minutes into the concert, we both got separated by the massive homogeneous mob that were the iKONICs that pushed and pulled every time a member moved closer to the edge of the stage.
Julia was way too busy trying to track Donghyuk on the other side of the stage, so like a dummy, she followed him. Lo and behold, once she turned over her shoulder, Jazz was nowhere to be seen! Boohoo for Julia, though, since Jazz ended up right at the barriers and was able to get an up close look at the boys. It’s suffice to say that Julia’s regret runs deep, but it was all good in the end!
To be fair, it wasn’t the biggest deal, because both of us stopped giving a sh*t after literally 2 seconds of losing each other and immersed ourselves in the experience instead because we’re those kind of people, but just know that separation CAN and most probably WILL happen unless you are very diligent with gluing yourself to your friends. Or, you know, be like us and just go with it, because hey, it’s still a once in a lifetime thing, right?
This is why it’s important to keep a powerbank on your person in case your phone dies from all the videos and photos you took–so you can recharge and find your buddy! Or, you can discuss a designated meeting place in case this happens, because it will.
STRETCH. You will be tired. This one is especially for those in VIP Standing: give your neck a good stretch to avoid pain further down the line. Staring up at the baes is beautiful, yes, but it can also be painful. No one ever said love is without sacrifice!
RE-NOURISH. Rehydrate and get some food because you WILL be tired and hungry. You need to stay alive so you don’t miss the next concert, right?
RELIVE THE EXPERIENCE YOU LITERALLY JUST HAD. We have this habit of just sitting in some coffee shop or restaurant in silence just to check or exchange videos and it’s so much fun just basking in the realization that, “Damn. That really happened, didn’t it?”
CLEANSE. Numero uno to-do when you get home is to remove the gunk on your face and your body. You do not want to sleep in makeup, sweat, and someone’s kili-kili essence. That’s just not right in any universe. You will thank yourself for it when you’ve fallen into your dreams filled with your bias and you’re squeaky clean! So cleanse sis, cleanse.
CRY. Cry because it’s over for the next few years, but also cry because you experienced it.
FAVORITE CONCERT MOMENTS
THE BEER INCIDENT. During our Troye Sivan concert experience, one of the sponsors was San Miguel. Therefore, SanMig Light was being sold at the concert! And you were also allowed to bring it in! So of course, being self-pledged alcohol enthusiasts, we went for it. Not even halfway through the first half of the concert, we were already done with our cups. During one of the lulls in between songs, we looked down from our balcony railing into the mosh pit and there, to our utter surprise, was another SanMig Light stall! We frantically waved and got the bartender’s attention and tried to convince him if he could do us an immense favor by refilling our cups with another round of beer. After much struggle (a.k.a Jazz holding onto Julia’s belt loops so she doesn’t fall into the VIP section and the bartender standing on a couple of crates), we were immensely happy with ourselves by not sloshing the drinks onto the people below us. A couple beside Jazz blatantly looked at us as if we were either: (1) crazy, and (2) wordlessly asking where we got our drinks. We did them a solid and got them theirs, repeating the whacked process once more. To say our alcohol-loving selves were immensely satisfied is quite the understatement.
GETTING AWAY WITH PHOTOSHOOTS. We ramped up our confidence game and took all the photos. It worked to our advantage that we had each other and that we trust each other to take amazing photos for the ‘gram! Befriending the security and staff were plus points because they let us take photos in restricted areas because the lighting was the bomb. It pays to be nice to anyone and everyone, people! (Also we’re very pabebe, ask anyone.)
KUYA GUARD BEING A CUTIE. During SEVENTEEN’s Ideal Cut, we weren’t allowed to take videos with our phones—the heck, right? So, during the entire concert, there’d be this guard moving throughout the aisles (context: we were Lower Box) with a sign telling us to stop taking videos. But the entire time, he was dancing. He was swaying to the music, and every time he’d catch someone with their phones up, he’d get real close and dance into their video cams. So adorable, but also quite the hassle when you’re trying to film Mingyu dancing to TWICE’s ‘TT’. Grr at you, Kuya Guard. Grr.
(JAZZ) VIBING BIASES. Being tiny has its ups and downs during a concert, especially when you’re in the VIP section. But the one thing I’m thankful for is being able to squish my way—voluntarily or not, but most often not–to the barrier up front where it’s only basically an arm’s length away from being able to touch my biases. In the iKON 2018 Continue Tour, Jinhwan basically just vibed out in front of me onstage for an amazing 10 seconds. I was also able to get a quick brush of Donghyuk’s person when he came down and ran by our section. Gosh, what a dream. During the 2019 GOT7 Keep Spinning Tour, I didn’t even realize how close I was to the stage until Jackson rose out of it for the concert exclusive AmeriThaiKong Unit stage. I honestly thought I’d died with how close he was. My sign was so forgotten because I got so caught up in the moment, I prayed to whichever deity could hear me that Julia would be able to take photos or videos of the moment in my stead as I definitely did not trust myself to do so.
(JULIA) TAKE THIS AS PERVERSELY AS YOU WANT TO, BUT JAEBEOM (GOT7) MADE ME WET. Like, literally. With a literal water bottle. Getting splashed in the face with water that was partially sipped from by an idol is one of the most strangely satisfying concert feelings ever, and it doesn’t help that he is definitely on the top of my list of the most attractive K-Pop idols. Unfortunately, Ahgases know how hard he friendzoned us as a fandom, so I will respectfully appreciate him from afar even as my heart aches—wow, drama? Wetness aside, for that concert, I also had an LED app on my phone that made the phrase “JAEBEOM BE MY BABEOM” scroll repeatedly, and it was the funniest thing seeing Bambam look at it, pause, scrunch his eyebrows, and tilt his head in confusion before completely ignoring me afterwards. At least I was noticed, I guess?
Each one is a different set of memories and no con experience is ever the same. Upon writing this article, with all the looming “new normal” protocols floating around, it really hit us hard that the realization of concerts not being a thing for a couple of years is too real to even comprehend. So treasure the experiences you’ve had so far, because you’ve literally no idea when the next opportunity will happen.
If you’ve got any concert tips or memorable experiences you’d like to share, let’s talk about it in the comments below! Or you can reach out to us on our Instagram account (@talktayo), we’d love to hear all about it!
As one of Jazz’s favorite authors have written, “Go to the theater, to museums, and to concerts as often as possible: it gives you a healthy glow!”
But don’t be that sis and always practice proper hygiene and social distancing.
Stay safe, lovelies!
A 24-year-old writer, producer, and stylist who’s got the starry-eyes of a shopaholic with an irrefutable love-hate relationship with carbs and wine.
A 25-year-old writer with an obsession for beauty and an ineffable love for all things sharp—from cacti to hedgehogs to intense winged liner.