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Mamamoo are unapologetic women, powerful and fearless

Mamamoo in Manila

One night, two words, a three-year wait and four incredible women. “1,2,3 Eoi!” announces K-pop group Mamamoo’s arrival at the Araneta Coliseum, as the four women count off and sing their iconic introduction, “I say, Mama-mama-moo,” to a passionate Philippine crowd for the first time.

Mamamoo, who first came onto the K-pop scene in 2014, has made their mark as a powerhouse vocal group, known for their quintessential harmonies and exceptional stage presence.

In 2019, the group was set to visit the Philippines for the first time as part of a K-pop festival that was unfortunately canceled. Filipino fans’ hopes of seeing the group were then squashed by the onset of the pandemic in 2020. So when Mamamoo set their course for Manila as part of “My Con,” their first world tour, Filipino Moomoos (their fandom) made sure to make it an unforgettable night for everyone.

It was the culmination of years of waiting and a seemingly surreal spiral of emotions for many Moomoos. Even before the concert started, fans made the Coliseum their own personal noraebang (a singing room similar to a karaoke), singing every Mamamoo track word for word. Even Mamamoo were surprised by the euphoric state of the Araneta crowd once they took to the stage.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Big Dome was literally shaking in excitement on Feb. 12, as Filipino fans proceeded to stomp their feet to welcome the quartet. When Solar, Whee In, Moon Byul and Hwa Sa first greeted Filipino fans with an enthusiastic “Kumusta,” and an even more adorable “Shot puno!,” the crowd roared in delight, happy to finally meet the women who have changed their lives.

“My Con,” a play on the title of their most recent release “Mic On” (2022) is everything Mamamoo has to offer.

Photo by Bunny Javier
Live performance standouts

In a night, the women of Mamamoo encapsulate their storied almost decade-long career. The girls have long proven their might as one of K-pop’s best live performers, standing out in the industry because of their vocal caliber and inimitable stage presence.

RegalIn true Mamamoo fashion, the girls created a special concert medley of their best-known hits, melting each track with each other flawlessly. In concert, the girls exhibit their range, both in terms of vocals and their genre-bending catalog, which is best encapsulated in this setlist. For “My Con,” they introduce concert versions of their well-loved singles like “Hip” and “Egotistic,” running through every song that has cemented their career. It’s Mamamoo’s greatest hits, sorted into sections that would introduce the girls’ versatile artistry to casual fans in the audience.

There’s also no dead air at a Mamamoo concert, with the girls knowing exactly how to communicate with their fans. Despite being clad in regal white and black attires, the quartet are not afraid to be quirky, leaning into their own playfulness as they joke around with fans on stage. When they ask the crowd to do a wave with their Moobongs (light stick), a continuous wave in the Coliseum ensues, thrilling the group, with leader Solar even saying the crowd looked like a rice field.Filipino fans have always made it their mission to give their artists a memorable time in the country. Local Moomoos came to Araneta wanting to be a part of the concerts themselves, from singing along to the chorus of “Make me happy,” to chanting during “Illella” dance breaks, and even hitting the high notes in the iconic “Decalcomanie.”

Witty women

Mamamoo has always made sure to tailor each performance to every crowd, with the girls singing and speaking in Filipino for their witty ad libs. “May gusto ka ba sa akin? (Do you like me?),” Moon Byul asks Filipino fans during the flirty “Mr. Ambiguous,” which was met by almost rapturous screams. The rapper also added a sweet “Wag ka nang umuwi,” easily considered the highlight of the “Illella” performance.

In between songs, Solar manages to sneak in a cheeky “Mahal kita,” while Hwa Sa runs to the edges of the stage, intent on taking a closer look at the green Manila ocean. When Whee In cutely asks the crowd about the concert, she jumps on stage while repeating “Masaya po ba?” and melts every heart in attendance.

The quartet’s strength has always been their ability to command the stage effortlessly, from interacting with fans to seamless additions of ad libs. They’re veteran performers of course, and established divas, knowing when to belt a high note, execute an airy falsetto or hold a vocal run. It’s a pitch-perfect night for the ladies, their energy never wavering even as they performed vocal and dance heavy tracks.

Photo by Bunny Javier
Sonic DNA

Mamamoo even changed up the usual concert fare with solo switch stages, something only the quartet would be able to pull off. Solar, Whee In, Moon Byul and Hwa Sa swap their signature styles, performing each other’s solo tracks with flair.

Solar puts her own twist on Whee In’s solo debut “Water color,” and Whee In flirts with the crowd through a rendition of Solar’s “Honey.” Moon Byul, the group’s rapper, takes on the sensual “Twit” by Hwa Sa, while Hwa Sa in turn delivers a powerful performance of Moon Byul’s “Eclipse.” It showcases just how strongly in tune with each other the four girls are as they embody each other’s sonic DNA. The concept changes culminate in a medley of their solo songs, which they perform in harmony as a quartet.

Filipino Moomoos went all out for the occasion, preparing multiple projects for the four women. The group was surprised with two cakes, one for birthday celebrant Solar, and one for the group (which contained custom Mamamoo Philippine money, and earned a ton of laughs from the girls).

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Photo by Bunny Javier

Powerful women

Just before the show ended, Filipino Moomoos made sure to show how loved the group was in the Philippines, playing a video of their 2019 flash mobs, pandemic Zoom meetings and the community pantries and charity projects they created in Mamamoo’s name. It captured the yearslong wait for this moment, as local fans commemorate how they made sure to support the girls even from miles away. The project moves the four women to tears, with them immediately assuring the crowd that they will come back in the future. In the fan song “I love too,” Filipino Moomoos take the mic, singing along with the girls. In an ode to each other, Araneta is cast in pink, as fans hold up a sign that spells out their dedication for the women: “Destined to be with Mamamoo.”

In nearly a decade, the quartet has cemented their legacy of sonic self-expression, one that’s gained them thousands of fans who are willing to go against all odds just to show their support.

In a way, Mamamoo has rewritten the rules of K-pop girl groups. The quartet has been in the industry for almost a decade, breaking all stereotypes on the longevity of girl groups, along with conservative standards imposed by society. They’ve also managed to curate their styles as solo acts, conquering absolutely any genre both as a group and as individuals.

Musical genius

In “My Con,” their years of experience in the industry is imminent. Solar, Whee In, Moon Byul and Hwa Sa are unapologetically women, fearless and confident in their own skin as they do what they do best.

If there’s one thing any live music lover should do in their lifetime, it’s to watch Mamamoo in concert. The quartet’s greatness lies in their simplicity and innate musical genius. There’s a no-frills approach to each performance, their inherent talent and charm enough to leave you in awe. It’s simple really, their mics are just always on.

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