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Red Velvet: ‘We will never forget Manila’

Red Velvet in Manila

It was a glorious moment of unparalleled energy shared between Red Velvet and their Filipino ReVeLuvs (fandom).

The crowd knew that the next song was going to be the 2019 electropop hit “Zimzalabim” and they were ready. The first few notes started playing, and the girls and the audience said the first line of the verse together. “Are you ready for this? Zimzalabiiim!”

Then came the perfectly synchronized fan chant, calling the Korean names of Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy and Yeri before ending it with Red Velvet. Everybody was on their feet, raising and beating their Mandu bongs(lightsticks) in the air. The girls were ecstatic. They turned and twirled onstage with open arms, soaking in the excitement.

“Philippines, let’s go!” Yeri shouted.

It was the only cue they needed before the crowd started chanting “Zimzalabim’’ once again in unison. The moment could be described as a congregation of voices that lifted each other higher that when it finally reached its peak, it exploded like fireworks. The audience was banging their heads, jumping side to side making the ground rumble beneath them during the instrumental part of the song. The impromptu chant of “Oy! Oy! Oy!” came naturally from the audience.

There was nothing like it. If we put our tongues out, we could imagine ourselves tasting the happiness that filled the air.

Irene’s visual is so surreal. Photo by Bunny Javier

Wendy
Wendy wrecks a lot of biases , Photo by Bunny Javier
Worth the wait

This was one of the encore songs, the second to the last song performed. But the Luvies’ (Reveluv nickname) energy has been high throughout the night. This is Red Velvet’s first solo concert in the Philippines. They’ve waited nine years for this.

The girl group is no stranger to the Philippines. They’ve attended Kpop festivals before, but it took a while before they included the country in the world tour. “R to V” in Manila was held at the Mall of Asia Arena on May 7. The event was promoted by Pulp Live World. Only four members were able to come because Joy had to take a break for health reasons.

In her absence, Luvies made sure that she was represented. In the song, “Bing Bing” they made a green ocean for her. Green is the representative color of Joy. All the members have representative colors. It’s pink for Irene, yellow/orange for Seulgi, blue for Wendy, and purple for Yeri.

The original plan for the green ocean was initially white, but the Red Velvet Philippines (@teamRVPH_) changed it to green after the announcement of Joy’s break. The little fan projects that Luvies prepared for the group did not go unnoticed. Yeri said that they will make sure that Joy will be able to hear about the green ocean. Irene said that she finds everything very sweet.

“I heard that you prepared a lot of little projects for us. I saw a banner in front of us during our performance of ‘Eyes Locked, Hands Locked. It made me cry,’” Seulgi said.

All-rounder Seulgi shows why she’s built different. Photo by Bunny Javier
Our maknae Yeri receives love for her talent in Manila. Photo by Bunny Javier
United fan projects

She was referring to the Red Velvet Philippines’s three roll-down banners that says “I will always be by your side”, “I want to be forever, in this dream-like night” and the last one said, “Enchanting feeling, I’ll never forget everything”.

The hand banners were prepared by Filipino ReVeluvs (@FilipinoLuvies). On the hand banners are Korean words that say, “This feeling we want to last forever, this night is like a dream” from the song “Celebrate”. This was raised during the encore.

A rainbow ocean during “Celebrate” was planned by United from R to V led by Jazrene Gonzales (@reveljaz). Colored stickers were given away at different entrance spots inside the arena that the audience could use over their phones.

Gonzales led over 40 volunteers that day. Their presence in different seat sections made a difference as they reminded the crowd about the projects. They carried cards to cue in the audience on what to do next.

Gonzales is not a fan base. Instead, she’s just a fan who gained a following because she’s been sponsoring LED ads for Red Velvet since 2021. She also hosts cup sleeve events for the group, hence she gained the trust of fellow Luvies.

The three groups worked together on this project, following the request of Pulp COO Happee Sy. The result is a well-orchestrated event that delighted the cake girls.

Sincerity

The success of the fan projects should also be attributed to the loyal fans of the girls. Super has been interviewing Luvies who have been clamoring for the group to come to the country. All those years of pining resulted in them memorizing fan chants as well as the lyrics. Red Velvet is one of the few groups who came to the country and experienced fan chants and the trademark Filipino sing-along. This in itself, shows the sincerity of the audience.

Wendy said in English that she just got so hyped up by the audience before they came out onstage. She said, “But because of your cheering I got so excited. You guys are over the top. The concert is over two hours, how can you guys have so much energy for two hours?”

She added that she heard voices from every single corner of the arena.

Before they came onstage, the left and right sides of the Arena were divided into cheering between “Red” and “Velvet”. This was repeated during the encore. Gonzales said that they took inspiration from Singapore’s leg of the world tour wherein the crowd chanted the group’s name instead of “Encore.”

Different colors

Red Velvet entered the stage wearing pink, puffy, lace dresses taking inspiration from classical music and sensibilities. This is the concept of their album “The Reve Festival 2022- Feel my Rhythm.” They opened the concert with the title track “Feel my Rhythm” before going to the retro pop dance “Bamboleo” and the urban contemporary “LP”.

The group returned on stage in mini dresses that represent their colors. They aptly chose “Ice Cream Cake” for the second act opener, before going to “Oh Boy” and “On A Ride”. Their colorful LED backdrops showcased oversized sweets and pastries, dreamy sceneries aided by the props of gilded windows. The girls looked like they stepped out of a fairytale book and into the stage.

When they came back, they’re wearing more street-styled fits of denims, leather skirts and crop tops. For this they performed songs such as “Queendom,” “Red Flavor” and “Birthday”. They will have two more costume changes. They will wear leather bustiers showcasing their darker side before changing into more comfortable concert shirts.

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The costume changes are, of course, deliberate choices to showcase the flavors of Red Velvet, and the diversity of their music. There’s no shortage of talent within the group. That Red Velvet can sing is an understatement. They are from SM Entertainment and they live up to the agency’s reputation of having strong vocalists. Wendy could belt out high notes easily, Irene could whistle. Seulgi lives up to her reputation as the ace with her dancing and vocal skills, while Yeri’s soothing voice balances everything.

No one took over Joy’s part in the concert because a video of her singing was projected on a screen. Mics are on when they perform.

Vocal queens Red Velvet in Manila. Photo by Bunny Javier

Mic is on

One of the highlights of the night was when they performed “Pyscho” for the audience. For a lot of the fans, it was the first time they heard the R&B pop trap song live. In total, Red Velvet performed 25 songs for the concert.

But it is the exchange of energy between the artists and their fans that made the night special. There’s just so much love between them that even Luvies from overseas are envious. We’ve read so many quote retweets wherein they wished they watched the concert in the Philippines. However, local fans say that they don’t have to fly into the country. They just need to give their best for the girls when they come to their own. Red Velvet deserves that much.

“I am very happy. We would go home with a lot of good memories,” said Seulgi.

Irene complimented the Filipino energy saying that it’s hard to compete with that. She said, “I’m very happy that the Filipino Luvies are always on our side.”

Yeri received a lot of encouragement, too. They kept chanting the maknaes (youngest) from the crowd. As they were exiting the stage, she looked back and said, ”Thank you Philippines! We will never forget Manila!”

Wendy said that she was overwhelmed by the love and support they received from that night.

“Because of the love and energy you gave us, I am looking forward to meeting you all again soon. All five of us, including Joy,” said Wendy.

But it was Irene’s words as the leader that carried the most weight. “I promise that we will come back.”

This could mean another world tour visit next year, but we’re crossing our fingers that “soon” means in the nearest future.

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