B1A4 Road Trip in Manila: An Adventure Worth Exploring

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To put it simply: it was an adventure. B1A4’s stopover at Manila was an impressive, spazz-worthy two-hour concert that staged their catchiest tracks in full glory over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on September 6.

B1A4 is a South Korean boy group made up of the leader Jinyoung, the vocalist/rapper CNU, the main vocals Sandeul, rapper Baro and maknae/youngest Gongchan. They are known for creating easygoing tunes infused with streaks of rap, electronic melodies and a touch of ballads.

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The third stop for B1A4’s first ever world tour aptly titled as “Road Trip” was none other than Manila. They kicked off their tour in Taiwan and China last August and will proceed to tour Australia and US on the next months. Having made their debut only three years ago, B1A4 is just on the verge of conquering the world with their own brand of K-pop.

Of course, any K-pop concert wouldn’t be complete without the extravagant regalia and paraphernalia. For the Road Trip, BANAs (what B1A4 fans are called) were seen lingering outside the gates of the Araneta Coliseum as early as 4PM. You’d easily spot them wearing their green headbands and customized Road Trip tees, and holding the “pastel apple lime green” lightsticks which is the official color of the band. Banners promoting their specific biases were handed out for free by local fanclubs, including a few Chinese and Korean BANAs who flew in just to support the show. The band’s fanbase is mostly composed of teenagers to people in their early 20s.

By the evening, the Big Dome was flocked by thousands of BANAs and K-pop enthusiasts. The stage was extended to the middle of the patron area with an arrow-shaped catwalk, the part around it being the most crowded part in the Dome. At around 8pm, the lights finally dimmed. The video showing the band’s comical planning of their Road Trip marked the beginning of the show.

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The boys of B1A4 made their entrance in regal all-white tuxedos, performing their debut song “O.K.” followed by the upbeat “Beautiful Target”. Instantly, the crowd was in an uproar. Screams and fan chants were heard all over the Big Dome.

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B1A4 has released 2 full-length studio album and 5 EPs over three years, providing them with an arsenal of tracks to perform during their concert. For their setlist, they chose a balance of slow and bubbly/groovy songs, divided into distinctive segments throughout the evening. There was the dreamy melodies of “나쁜 짓 안 할게요 (Wouldn’t Do Bad Things)”, 너 때문에(Because of You) and “Seoul”. This was followed by the solemn, stripped down rendition of the ballads “걸어 본다 (Tried to Walk)” and “This Time Is Over” . With Jinyoung playing the guitar, there was also the acoustic set containing a cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, “Wonderful Tonight” and “내가 뭐가 돼 (You Make Me a Fool)” The peak of the concert was when they performed their latest hit makers/most infectious songs, “Lonely (없구나)” and “Solo Day”.

There was a short break after, wherein the members traded their white tux to their stylish, casual attires, With it, a bigger surprise: they chose one member of the SVIP crowd to climb up on stage. The lucky fan got to be serenaded very closely by the five members with the romantic “쮸쮸쮸(Chu chu chu)” which is the Korean onomatopoeia for kisses.

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As a five-member group, the concert also did well in highlighting each member’s talent and personality. Jinyoung, the leader, stands out due to his overflowing energy on stage. It’s admirable how he has composed a great number of the band’s songs with lyrics that reflect a mature state of mind. CNU, the eldest member, is a stunning presence onstage with graceful composure as he danced and sang. Also worth noting is his flexibility as a rapper and singer, plus songwriter. Then there’s Sandeul. Besides his completely amazing vocals, he is also the bubbliest among the group. He appears to be the friendliest, laughing easily at the simplest things. Baro has gotten a lot of global exposure due to his role as Binggrae, an indecisive and shy university student in the hit drama “Reply 1994” and more recently in his challenging role as a developmentally disabled teenager in “God’s Gift – 14 days”. On stage, he’s an exceptional rapper with his fascinating baritone voice. Gongchan is the youngest member of the group. Aside from being dubbed the “visual” of the group, he is also good at connecting with the audience. All together, they were able to win the Filipino crowd of BANAs including a whole lot of new supporters.

The crowd’s fervor was palpable during the entire concert as they sang along to“이게 무슨 일이야 (What’s Going On)”, “물 한잔 (Glass of Water)” and “Who Am I”. Their encore songs “In the Air” and “If (너만 있으면)” closed the show in a beautiful note.

Although I’ve been to a few concerts of insanely popular K-pop bands over the years, B1A4 still manages to stand out due to their pure talent as singers/performers. I couldn’t help but notice how the dynamics of the members are so well-blended. Each member of B1A4 displayed his own astounding vocal prowess, with Sandeul being the most distinguished for hitting the high notes smoothly. It is also worth mentioning that the band deserves a million extra points for having a live band back them up and being “completely live” during the entire concert. The choreography of their songs along with the concept of the sets was simple, but nonetheless eye-catching.

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In the span of their three-year career, B1A4 has managed to create a wide catalog of songs that are both catchy and meaningful by infusing elements of pop, rap, electronic and ballads. The only thing that’s sort of missing during their concert was the solo stage for each member. It would have been nice to see them perform their solo songs in the albums. Also, I would have wanted to hear more chatter from them in between songs. But I guess, there’s still time for that in the future. It has only been 3 years since this band debuted. In such a short time they have proven themselves as capable songwriters and singers. We can only expect them to get better as they go along. B1A4’s Road Trip to Manila was an adventure, one that the Filipino crowd was glad to have explored. Hopefully, in their next tour, they will be making another stopover in Manila, too.

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B1A4 Road Trip in Manila Setlist
1. O.K.
2. Beautiful Target
3. 나쁜 짓 안 할게요(Wouldn’t Do Bad Things)
4. Oh My God
5. 너 때문에(Because of You)
6. Seoul
7. 걸어 본다 (Tried to Walk)
8. This Time Is Over
9. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (acoustic)
10. Wonderful Tonight (acoustic)
11. 내가 뭐가 돼 (You Make Me a Fool)
12. Amazing
13. Lonely (없구나)
14. Solo Day
15. 쮸쮸쮸(Chu Chu Chu)
16. 예뻐(Pretty)
17. 이게 무슨 일이야 (What’s Going On)
18. 물 한잔 (Glass of Water)
19. Who Am I
20. 잘자요 굿나잇 (Baby Good Night)
21. You Are My Girl
Encore:
22. In the Air
23. If (너만 있으면)

Photos and Words by Sandra Mae Laureano



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