BTS Sets Manila Ablaze during Epilogue
July 30, 2016 – It was one fiery evening at the MOA Arena as BTS lit up the stage with their most explosive concert tour yet. The South Korean hiphop group composed of Rap Monster, Suga, J-hope, Jin, Jimin, V and Jungkook, had the Arena blazing with 15,000 people singing and raving their souls out to their most striking stages during the blazing two-hour concert.
花樣年華 On Stage: Epilogue
The concert tour felt like a double-edged sword of sorts as it showcased BTS’ best performances to date, yet at the same time, it also waved farewell to an era that has brought the group massive success and recognition worldwide. Before Manila, Bangtan had already held full-house shows at Seoul, Macau, Osaka, Taipei, Nanjing, Nagoya and Beijing; with their concert tickets getting sold out in a matter of minutes.
花樣年華 (“화양연화” in Korean, “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life” in English) is also the title of their two-part 2015 EP which became their pedestal in becoming one of the leading K-pop acts globally. With tracks like “I Need U”, “Dope”, “Run” and “Fire”, the two EPs and the special compilation album titled “Young Forever” have earned the band their first (and consecutive) wins on Korean music shows, and allowed them to permeate and linger on Gaon (Korea) and Billboard World charts.
BTS, also known as Bangtan Boys, have always been known for being slightly unconventional, always going for that hard-hitting appeal in their songs and choreography. As they had always said during interviews, their music aims to represent the youth. The members, having their own inputs in composing and producing their songs, make it a point to keep their music that would resonate with the simple joys and the intricate worries of the youth.
What made 화양연화 stand out even more this time around is its multifaceted presentation of youth as something that can be both tumultuous and fun. Their lyrics border on the wistfulness of loss and the thrill of going beyond the limits. To further highlight this, the members themselves have matured as musicians and performers. All these, they have shown in full, during their concert in Manila.
The Most Beautiful Moment in Manila
Just as the title of their concert goes, in a lot of ways, Bangtan gave their fans (collectively known as ARMY) the most beautiful moment in their lives. The stage was emblazoned with the 花樣年華 sigil, four massive LED screens surrounding it and roses embellishing its sides. It was also extended by a long runway that led to another stage. Besides that, there were pyrotechnics, confetti, lights and most especially, there was fire.
As early as 4:30, people were already filling the venue. Fans, as ecstatic as they were, heartily sang along and cheered to BTS’ music videos which played in the background. By 6pm, the lights were dimmed; the sigil parted into two; the roses glowed in effervescent blue; and the medley of “Intro: 화양연화” and “Nevermind” echoed across the Arena. What followed after that was hysteria.
Bangtan blasted the set off with the powerful tracks “Run” and “Danger”. Instantaneously, the Arena was lit and the crowd was in an uproar. A live band accompanied the group as they performed, intensifying their performance. This was followed by “고엽 (Autumn Leaves)” and “Tomorrow” which are songs produced by Suga.
The setlist also highlighted the prowess of the members. BTS’ vocal line, composed of Jimin, Jin, V and Jungkook, had the spotlight on them on during “Love is Not Over” and “House of Cards”. Rap Monster, Suga and J-hope, the rapper line, took over the stage during the ever infamous “Cypher pt. 3: Killer” and “If I Ruled the World”. Rap Monster also had his solo stage during the dazzling “What Am I to You?”
Also, what’s a BTS concert without the top-notch choreography? The boys killed it as they graced us with the live performance of their near-perfect choreo for “불타오르네 (Fire)”, “Save Me”, “뱁새 (Silver Spoon)”, “쩔어 Dope” and “No More Dream”.
PH ARMY X BTS
Filipino ARMYs also had something in store for Bangtan that evening. There were multiple banner projects all throughout the concert, but what stood out the most was the word formation project during the encore. While the members were giving out their final speech, everyone seated at the two sides of the lower box area of the Arena had their respective boards which, when raised together, formed the words 사랑해 and 고마워, meaning “I love you” and “thank you”.
At first, the members of the band were bewildered upon seeing the red and white boards scattered across the lower box areas. However, upon the crowd’s insistent nagging and pointing, the boys took their time to decipher the words, as if they were piecing out a puzzle. When they did see and they read the words out aloud, their smiles were just priceless. J-hope, in particular, made the effort to show his appreciation by repeatedly looking around and smiling at the crowd.
“Did you guys feel us?” Rap Monster, the band’s leader, asked after taking a moment to quiet the crowd down. He continued, “At the backstage, we heard you guys screaming while the music videos were playing. Philippines and Manila really know how to play and how to turn up with BTS!”
He further expressed his gratitude in the midst of the exultant cheers of the audience. “It’s great that we get to have our most beautiful moment in Manila. Thanks for giving us a great memory and I hope you guys did feel the same too! Manila, saranghamnida. (I love you) Like I said, although we are a bit far away physically, and we speak different languages, please remember that we will always think of Philippines and Manila.”
BTS proceeded to perform “I Need U” as closing to a wonderful evening.
The Epilogue of Epilogue
By the time you are reading this, Bangtan would have already finished their concert tour in Tokyo; the 화양연화 era would have beautifully signed off; and Suga would have unleashed his more vicious alter ego who goes by the name Agust D. Still, I bet majority of the people who were in that crowd still would not have forgotten Epilogue in Manila.
The thing with Bangtan is they are continuously and persistently growing as musicians, performers and even as human beings. It would probably sound a bit biased coming from me (since I’m obviously a fan), but they are a gem in the world of K-pop and even in the world of music. It’s rare to find a group of people who has such immense passion for what they do, to the point that it pushes them to go beyond their limits. They are constantly finding ways to improve their music and their choreography. Despite their grueling schedules, they allot time to compose their own songs, to further perfect their dance, to release cover songs and mixtapes online and to just be there for their fans.
I have my own reservations about K-pop as a genre (and I still do), but Bangtan destroyed the stigma for me. Their music, first and foremost, resonates with people. Beyond the gloss of K-pop and their polish as idols, BTS is composed of people who are trying their earnest to create music and performances that people can grow with and enjoy wholeheartedly.
It has been only been almost 2 years since I got to know Bangtan, and it has been one hell of a ride. I’m sure they will continue to expand their horizons. And we’ll all be watching as they perform for tens of thousands in major Arenas worldwide, as they jump through several countries in a week, as their album sales reach millions, as their songs chart and stay on Billboard, as their YouTube clicks draws out millions in a matter of days, and everything else.
Until the next concert, Bangtan.
By Sandra Laureano
花樣年華 On Stage: Epilogue in Manila Setlist:
3. 고엽 Autumn Leaves
6. Love is Not Over (Full Length Edition)
7. House of Cards (Full Length Edition)
8. What Am I to You? (Rap Monster solo)
9. 상남자 Boy in Luv
10. Save Me
11. 불타오르네 Fire
12. We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2
13. Cypher pt. 3: Killer
14. If I Ruled the World
15. 뱁새 Silver Spoon
16. 쩔어 Dope
17. 흥탄소년단 Boyz with Fun
18. 신격의 방탄 Attack on Bangtan
19. No More Dream
20. Young Forever
21. Whalien 52
22. Miss Right
23. I Need U