There is absolutely no comparison between seeing K-pop heavyweight iKON in person to seeing them on the small screen of smartphones. Videos, the quality of which is diminished automatically by the social media app of choice, do not do justice to the group’s immense stage presence.
Watching iKON is best experienced when they’re in front of you. It doesn’t matter which section you find yourself in. It won’t even matter if you’re just there as a chaperone to your daughter, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband. As long as you are in the same venue, their energy will reach you.
To say that I had expectations of the group even before I set foot inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Aug. 5 is an understatement. I experienced their brand of stage presence at “K-pop Masterz 2” last year. Both events were promoted by Pulp Live World. The world tour “Take Off” will continue in the United States.
But I knew that the iKON I would meet would be different from the iKON I met last year. They sure were different from the group that performed in Manila for the “Continue” tour four years ago in 2018. It’s the first time that Filipino iKONICs (fandom name) saw Bobby, Song, DK, Ju-ne and Chan under a new management, 143 Entertainment. Jay is currently serving his military service since July 20 and couldn’t join them.
The videos played on tour reintroduced them.
Prince of the Philippines
The group repeatedly said that they received a call from Jay that day saying that he feels sad that he won’t be able to join the Manila show. Bobby said that Jay, after all, is the prince of the Philippines because he studied here and knew a lot of local words. Chan said that he learned phrases from him such as “sakit akong tiyan (My tummy hurts)” and “sakit akong ilong (My nose hurts).”
They are not the same iKON because they’ve become better, embracing a more freestyle approach. When they performed their signature song “Love Scenario,” their muscle memory kicked in and they moved in sync. But there were a lot of times when they just moved across the stage freely, interacting with their fans. It was beautiful to see how much they enjoyed the performance.
Everyone at the Big Dome was singing 2018 Melon Music Award’s song of the year, pumping their Konbats (lightsticks) simultaneously in the air. That’s how the entire three-hour concert went. On their feet As the concert neared its encore, nobody used the seats that they paid for because everyone was on their feet, dancing and singing joyously.
iKON opened the show with “Tantara,’’ appearing in silver coats and pants and white undershirts. They glittered onstage. The group followed it with “Sinosijak,” “At Ease” and “Killing Me.” They brought a four-piece live band with them. Their interaction with the band gave the night a more spontaneous and personalized vibe. When the crowd was egging other members on to perform DK’s solo, “Kiss Me” the band teased them with the song, urging them to give in.
They made it clear whose side they were on: they were there for the iKONICs.
Excited to be in Manila
The “Take Off” tour is in support of their album with the same title which they released early this year. DK shared how excited they were about it.
DK said, “We dropped our first full album in about five years. Did everyone check it out? Did you guys like it?”
He added, “We’ve been in Europe and Japan but we’re so excited to be in Manila.”
This was met with thunderous cheers. He took on the role of emcee for the night as he continued to hype his fellow members. DK asked if they’ve seen Ju-ne’s drama “Bo-ra! Deborah” and the crowd said yes.
Ju-ne responded humbly, saying he “needs to work harder” to be called an actor.
When he was asked what his MBTI (Myers–Briggs Type Indicator) was, he answered, “S-E-X-Y! Sexy!”
They mentioned Bobby’s album “S.i.R” and said that a new one will drop in October. They also said that they are set to release two new songs this month. The crowd chanted “spoiler” and Song started humming, giving everyone a taste of the melody, and then everybody else jumped in, sang in gibberish and continued where he left off. ‘We need your power’
“We need your power, we need your voices,” Bobby told the crowd. It was all the permission iKONics needed to sing with them.
The crowd was vibing with them when they sang the bangers “Rhythm Ta,” “Bling Bling,” “Love Scenario” and “U.” The album “Take Off” showed the colors of the members as artists. We got to see the R&B/soul song “Kiss Me,” Ju-ne’s ballad “Want You Back,” Song’s fun trot song “Fighting,” and Bobby’s pleasing pop tune “Heartbroken Playboy.” Ju-ne and Bobby also performed “Deep Night” together.
They went on to perform their softer numbers such as “Why Why Why,” “Like a Movie” and “Goodbye Road” before bringing the energy back again with “What’s Wrong?,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “B-Day” and “Driving Slowly.”
“It’s really amazing that you can all sing the Korean lyrics of all our songs,” said Chan. This was met with the loudest cheers.
Party slash videoke
When DK led the crowd into singing “Heartbroken Playboy,” they were pleased to hear the voices of their fans.
“I guarantee that Donghyuk is the sexiest Asian male,” said Bobby. He then moved on and said that Song’s lips are very dangerous. They urged the crowd to cheer for him. The group were impressed by how the fans were able to keep up. DK asked how they knew all the lyrics to their songs. Bobby said that it’s possible that the fans are better in Korean than him.
“Manila is the best!” DK declared. “Thank you so much for staying (with us).”
Chan said that because this world tour was very long, he wasn’t able to prepare a solo stage. He promised to be back with one on the next tour. DK urged him to do a solo stage with “Kiss Me.” He did so by doing some push-ups. This started a series of silly moves from the members, such as Song’s breathing, Ju-ne lying on the floor and Bobby dancing sexily before complaining that he’s 30.
“I’m really happy to see the Philippine iKONICs because you are great in having fun together with us. It’s really warming to our hearts that you have prepared so much for us,” said Chan, referring to the projects prepared by iKON Fan Union Philippines.
Ju-ne showed his gratitude by noting the “hot welcome” they received from the fans. “Because of you, I really enjoyed being on the stage. Mag-eenjoy ba kayo hanggang sa dulo? (Are you going to enjoy until the end?),” he said.
A grateful Song thanked the fans for welcoming them, too. He said, “We will try our very best to be with you forever.”
These ments (segment of the concert where the performers talk to the audience) were heartfelt. They know how much they are loved in the country. And they gave the love back. They added an extra song, “Freedom,” for their encore. The group performed with no props, little fanfare onstage, minimal costume changes. Yet, their talent was more than enough.
Bobby and DK even got down from the stage and into the mosh pit, getting close to the audience. Bobby accepted a blanket with a Philippine flag and messages from the crowd and wore it proudly like a cape. He then made a move to give the cape to Chan. The latter ran around the stage again.
Before they left the stage, they bowed a perfect 90 degrees, showing respect and gratitude to their fans. This is the new iKON. They took the best of their 7-year experience from their previous agency with them and showed what artistry they can produce with freedom.
DK had a specific wish from their fans that night. He wished for everyone to go home with sore throats, aching feet and backs soaked in sweat, a request easily granted.
Most iKONICs, including this writer, took a couple of days to recover from the concert. If this is the new way to measure how enjoyable a concert was, then you could safely say that it was one iconic night.