November 22, 2015, Seoul Olympic Arena, Seoul, South Korea
Yep, that's me, outside the Arena. From a tropical country to a really cold one. So you can imagine how much I was freezing my butt there.
It took me two years since I first became a fan of Girls' Generation before I first saw them in a concert back in 2012. Now, three years and five more concerts later, I am so thankful to have reached yet another milestone in my life as a fan.
To finally watch them in their home turf.
Yes. The Girls' Generation Phantasia 4th Tour kickoff concert in Seoul Olympic Arena, Seoul, South Korea.
My third solo concert and seventh overall. My first in Seoul.
As I am writing this and recalling of my experiences, I just couldn't help but cry. From the moment I stepped inside the Arena until this very moment, I am still overwhelmed with all of the experience that it still makes me choke up and cry. I still couldn't believe that I finally got to see them perform in their home turf.
Taking pictures wasn't allowed and it was being strictly enforced, so I apologize for that in advance. No pictures for this one.
I gotta admit. The moment I got to my seat, the magnitude of the reality hit me. I couldn’t believe I was inside Seoul Olympic Arena, just minutes away from my third solo concert. And again, in their home turf. I really couldn’t help but cry at that point, thinking of how thankful I was that finally, I was going to check off a big item on my bucket list and finally, finally see them in their home turf. For like three minutes I was just hyperventilating and crying over that realization.
Once the lights went out, the fabled Pink Ocean for the nth time flooded the entire Arena. As always, it was such a beautiful sight, and an exhilarating feeling, to be a part of it, waving my own lightstick amidst thousands in unison.
This was the prepared fan project
I realized from the opening vignette that the girls did have more input and were more involved with this one. Heck, it's the first time that they've spoken during the opening video. And then, things got exciting right away when the girls appeared and gracefully stepped down a flight of stairs the moment the curtain dropped, opening the concert with "You Think". Resplendent in dark blue and white outfits, the girls easily captured everyone's attention from the get-go. Almost everyone went bonkers when Seohyun did that split.
The jazz version of "Tell Me Your Wish" was admitted unexpected. It was totally a new thing for me and I really didn't think that they would do it that way. After so many years of seeing the concert version with Tiffany's rap, this was indeed a new thing for me.
After "Bump It", I was honestly surprised later on when they popped those blue outfits open, revealing an even sexier white costume underneath. Apparently, that was the cue for "Show Girls". Like wow. Tiffany's awesome introduction while the girls were putting their white gloves on to complete the concept was just jaw-dropping.
And of course, after the first set, the always welcome introductions were made. As always, being able to see and hear them go, "하나, 둘, 셋! 안녕하세요, 소녀시대 입니다!" was such a very fun moment. It was funny to see Sunny going all cute again and then Taeyeon missing her cue since she was busy drink her water. After that, they were talking too fast for this newbie Korean learner to follow fully.
And towards the end, which I thought was a flawless transition, they were talking about the old-fashioned microphones suddenly appearing behind them, cueing the next song, "One Afternoon". I personally love that song from their latest album. But I was surprised with the next song, "Paparazzi". I mean, the transition from one song to another was just so smooth. Well, I shouldn't be surprised, since they were still in those sexy white outfits. The crowd was just amazing going "Boom! Boom! Boom!" and "Ra-Ta-Ta!" on cue.
Another video was shown, but what sent goosebumps up and down my spine was that in the end, they were playing the tune of "Merry-Go-Round". I wasn't a fan back then, so when I heard this song, I was again overwhelmed with emotion.
The next set opened with an all-too-familiar introduction, followed by the expected fanchant of "Doo-Too-Roo-Toot-Doo-Doo, Kissing You Baby! Doo-Too-Roo-Toot-Doo-Doo, Loving You Baby!" The girls looked so cute in their girly outfits with big ribbons on the heads, sitting on enormous replicas of hair and makeup stuff like lipsticks and mirrors and hairbrushes while singing. "Kissing You" really takes me back, a lot. And mind you, this was the original version, not the rock version.
After another short cute and funny talk, and I was pretending to understand every single word they were saying, they went on with their next song, which was another personal favorite of mine, "Green Light". It was so funny seeing Yuri fail in that matching game that was going on while they were performing. And it was also fun fanchanting with the crowd while we go "Beep Beep!".
After "Paradise", and another cute and funny banter as they exited the stage, the next video appeared. I think this was the part where they were playing rock-paper-scissors and then at the end, Sunny got cheated, since she clearly won the final round, and was forced to go into the photo booth last. She cutely surrendered, and then started bantering as well as she hopped inside. Come to think of it, I did miss seeing cute Sunny.
This part was the special stages, kicked off by TaeTiSeo's performance of "Adrenaline", followed by Sunny and Yoona singing Maroon 5's "Sugar" as they walked through the crowd, much to everyone's delight, and then capped off by what a lot of people wanted to see, SHY. Sooyoung, Hyoyeon, and Yuri were looking so bad-ass with Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It", their outfits reminiscent of "I Got A Boy".
The next video was another funny banter about "What Girls Talk About". It was hilarious that the girls were mentioning "Chamomile", "Earl Grey", and "English Breakfast," as their preferred tea, and then Taeyeon goes "먹자!". Typical Ahjumma Taengdork. God, these girls talk a lot whenever they're together it's hilarious. Oh, their outfits in the video gave the next song away.
"Lion Heart". Man, as always, it was so energizing to go "지금은 소녀시대! 앞으로도 소녀시대! 영원히 소녀시대!", and to go "Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh-oh! Oh-oh!" Of course, it was my first time seeing them perform "Lion Heart" live and alive, and it made recall all the happiness I experienced watching them on TV and on live streaming while they were on promotions.
And after making us happy with "Lion Heart", they proceeded to knock everyone out with "Check". But then, they threw another curveball by going all cutesy with yet another all-too-familiar song that made everyone go fanchanting like crazy.
"Gee". 'Nuff said. At this point, you know how insane fanchanting during "Gee" can be.
My throat was completely out long ago, having lost it within the first hour of the concert, but that didn't stop me from risking permanent damage to it for the nth time. Again, at that point, I was growing tired. It's as if my body was starting to give out, whispering to me to give up. But no, not for them. Even if I wasn't as young and healthy as I used to be when I first started this journey as a SONE, through all the weariness, aches, and pains, I willed myself to push on, just for them.
The next video actually made me think about things. It was when Yoona was interacting with this AI computer. Yes, mankind just wants to be happy, despite all the worries and tragedies and flaws in the world. And for this late afternoon concert, yes, it was just all about happiness. At least for these two and a half hours, we were all happy, just enjoying each other's company.
Anyways, the girls took to the stage once again, opening with "Mr. Mr.". The heavy electronic music and the flashing lights brought them out with a bang, ushered in by Taeyeon's powerful "Let's Go!". I dunno, but I found myself crying at this point. Not the first time, mind you. But I honestly found it strange to be crying at that point. Maybe because "Mr. Mr." was the year where it got so difficult for the girls. Maybe that was it. I was literally choking on my tears while struggling to join the fanchanting. My voice was breaking going, "지금은 소녀시대! 앞으로도 소녀시대! 영원히 소녀시대!". After "Sign", they did a "The Great Escape"-"Run Devil Run" combo. Admittedly, that once again sent shivers up and down my spine. The same with the remix version of "Mr. Taxi". The girls looked so wow in their lighted outfits.
"Catch Me If You Can" opened the next set. The fanchanting was just so amazing it was exhilarating once more. The combination of the girls' powerful dancing and the crowd's boisterous cheering and fanchanting has lit things up once, if everything wasn't already lit up from the get-go. As I write this part, I feel that I'm not just doing enough justice to what happened during this performance. It was just amazing.
After "Fire Alarm", "The Boys" blared through the Arena, making all of us thunder, as in thunder, back with "GG!" to start the fanchanting once again. The heavy beats of "The Boys" was just exhilarating, making me go "지금은 소녀시대! 앞으로도 소녀시대! 영원히 소녀시대!" and "Girls' Generation make you feel the heat!" with as much energy as I could muster, whatever was left at that point.
A longer talk followed once again. The girls went all silly passing out their microphones by color code, with Tiffany obviously claiming the pink one while Taeyeon cutely remarking why hers was black. At this point, the girls were catching up with all of the individual activities that they were doing so far, highlighted by their teasing and egging Taeyeon to sing a few lines of her successful solo single "I". Seohyun and Hyoyeon tried to egg her on. Seohyun also mentioned about the new and upcoming TaeTiSeo album, which we were of course highly anticipating as well. Seohyun and Yoona were also pointed out to be having movie appearances, much to their embarrassment.
And then came the most touching moment of the concert. And this one still gets me in the feels as I write this fan account.
Yes. I'm talking about the ballad version of "Into the New World". Needless to say, I was totally speechless because my throat was blocked from all of my crying. I just let my tears fall as I waved my lightstick. I would never know if the day would come that I would not cry whenever I hear this song anymore, especially the ballad version. I'm not even sure if I would want to not cry. Ever since I first heard this version during the Tokyo Dome concert, "Into the New World" became all the more that special to me, in so many different levels.
As was with every concert, SONE prepared something for the girls. The moment Tiffany hit that high note after "Saranghae", we threw our hidden pink paper airplanes with messages for the girls, promising to them that yes, we will be there for them and with them as they go into this new world. I cried even harder seeing the girls cry in surprise. I clearly saw Yuri in particular in tears as they all bowed and waved to the crowd, ending the main concert.
As the lights went out, it was quiet for just a second. The crowd slowly started singing "Complete" as we all patiently waited for the encore. We didn't do much, as the lights came back on again to another video showing the girls' preparations for Christmas, and a short celebration at the end. And with that, the girls appeared in stage once more for the encore part, starting with a very appropriate song, "Snowy Wish". That song is always fun to listen to. But to me, there was a bit of sentimentality there as well, making me tear up a bit for the nth time. I don't know why older songs make me cry, or at least get teary-eyed. They just do. What made this more fun was the fact that the girls were tossing around goodies to the fans. And they were also horsing around with the pink paper airplanes that landed in the stage. Of course, since I was seated in the second floor, I wasn't able to get any. Lucky for those at the mosh pit. Blame me for being too old and too short for the mosh pit. Oh well.
They continued on with the Christmasy theme with their English Holidays song, "Like A Diamond", still throwing around goodies and playing around with the paper airplanes. It was such good and dorky fun watching them horse around the stage like kids. Taeyeon was teasing with the fans as well, pretending to be undecided where and when to toss the goodies.
They had yet another short talk afterwards, egging the crowd to do the "Love and Girls" dance. And speaking of "Love and Girls", they have a big shoutout to their beloved concert director, Rino Nakasone, showering her with so much love. It was such a dorky moment while they taught us the moves on-the-spot. And once they were sure that we got it, "Love and Girls" started playing. And boy did we all started dancing on our seats. I remember back in Taipei even standing up and doing the "Hoo-hoo! Hoo-hoo!" dance.
And at the end of it all, we all got another pleasant surprise. The girls started singing "PARTY", but with a twist. They changed the lyrics to suit it with the winter and Christmas season. For starters, Seohyun opened with "We love winter!" I honestly hope to God that SM would release this during the Christmas season as an official track. Like seriously, I would definitely need a Soshi-themed Christmas party, and this song is definitely perfect for such. And yeah, remind me later to prep up some marshmallows, hot chocolate, and cappuccino.
And now, here comes the dramatic and very personal part. As always, at the end of it all, I feel a little bit conflicted. A little over two and a half hours was obviously short, but at the same time, I didn't want to be too greedy with their time. And as always, after the concert, I was all drained out. It has always been like that. That was when all the aches and pains started the befall me. And after the concert was another one hour train ride to get home. At the end of it all, I was exhausted and all worn out from the concert, leaving everything on the stage for the girls. Two and a half hours was obviously too short of an experience at this point.
I also felt very thankful, as always. I honestly don't know what I did to deserve such multiple opportunities see and cheer for Girls' Generation, live and alive, in the flesh. I am forever thankful and grateful for all the chances that I got so far to be a part of the Pink Ocean.
And as before, even though it still makes me sad whenever I think about it, living through with the fact that I am just another nameless and faceless SONE filling up the Pink Ocean somehow didn't hurt as much, at least as far as this concert experience was concerned. I thought that as long as I give my all to the Girls, which I did, then I should not have any regrets whatsoever.
And just like the previous concert experiences, this one would go down as yet another chapter as to how much I do love Kim Taeyeon, Jung Sooyeon (yes, she's still in the list), Lee Sunkyu, Hwang Miyoung, Kim Hyoyeon, Kwon Yuri, Choi Sooyoung, Im Yoona, and Seo Juhyun. Being there yet again, seeing Girls' Generation for the sixth time in this lifetime, for the second time in my neck of the woods, it didn't feel old. Just different. I feel that a part of me being a SONE has grown even more mature, that for sure that part of me will always love Taeyeon, Jessica, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona, and Seohyun, in that special corner of my mind and my heart. In my own little way, I love them.
But in addition, there was something really special about this experience as well. It was a few hours after I got home that I got to start thinking as well. In the five years that I have been a fan of Girls’ Generation, calling myself a SONE, I have started to wonder about it all the more.
What is it about the girls that makes me give so much of myself to them, even if they don’t know that I exist?
What is it about them that I forget about my own limits and push my body so much that after the concert, I end up crashing almost every single time?
What is it about them that I would be willing to go through all of this just to see them live?
But still, the bottom line still seems to be, as always, with great confidence, I can say, "I love you, Girls' Generation... and I always will... 'till the day I die." In addition, yes, at this point, I am one with you girls in saying, "언제까지라도 함께 하는거야 다시 만난 나의 세계 (It's something we'll do together to the end, into the new world.)."
And that, I promise.
I managed to ninja a photo after the concert. The staff was super strict, and there were a couple just a few feet behind me.