More than 60K fans journeyed to Bulacan over two nights to witness ‘Follow,’ the K-pop group’s return concert
Much like the mythical gods we only read about in fables, 10 figures loomed onstage at the Philippine Sports Stadium. With bated breath, the audience looked up, bass seeping into every sense, every beat seemingly expanding in their chest. This was it—the moment the 32,000-strong crowd that night had been waiting for. The spotlight shone on Woozi of K-pop group Seventeen, clad in fanciful white robes, as he seemingly fell from the sky, starting off the concert with the most powerful entrance the country had ever seen.
The 11 idols then launched into the high-octane “Super,” greeting the crowd with a whirl of precise, intense choreography and an inimitable stage presence—an expected thrill when it comes to Seventeen.
The world-renowned music act kicked off the concert season in the Philippines this Jan. 13 and Jan. 14, with their “Follow” tour treating Filipino fans to a weekend of fun and fireworks.
“Kumusta kayo, Philippines?” member DK greeted the crowd, a year since they promised to come back to the country.
It’s a concert fans have been waiting for—and UnionBank customers were the first to secure their tickets for it in November, when the bank held an exclusive presale for UnionBank Mastercard Credit and Debit cardholders.
It’s a historic one, too. The Philippines got to enjoy a show this massive for the first time, with Seventeen being the first musical act to perform at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan. Official estimates place more than 60,000 fans for both shows for the weekend, with many flying in from all over the country.
“You guys are crazy,” Joshua said, as members Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, Mingyu, DK, The8, Vernon, Seungkwan and Dino introduced themselves to the Filipino crowd. Members S.Coups and Jeonghan were not able to attend due to health problems.
Making fun memories
“Let’s make fun memories tonight,” Dino followed, as chants of his name resounded throughout the stadium. The idol is considered a Philippine darling, and he enjoys a special superstar maknae status, or in this case, bunso, among local fans. He then gamely performed snippets of his solo single “Wait” during the band’s introduction, a first again for Filipino Carats (their fandom).
There were a lot of firsts for Seventeen’s “Follow,” as the magic of having 11 people on stage made the first foray of concertgoers to the Philippine stadium a success. With a group like Seventeen, every inch of the stage was utilized to the fullest with numerous backup dancers, Broadway-like staging and a breathtaking circular stage.
Every performance from the group’s different units showed a different aspect of Seventeen. The vocal unit serenaded the crowd with “Pinwheel,” a treat for fans who have followed the group since 2017. The performance unit then grooved to the sensual fan favorite “I Don’t Understand But I Luv U.” If charisma was a song, it would be “Fire,” as siren-like screams filled the open stadium. The hip-hop unit turned up the heat in more ways than one, as they swaggered and strode across the stage.
Despite being in the game for almost nine years, Seventeen continues to elevate every concert experience, changing up song arrangements or creating little skits to keep the audience entertained. It’s their sincerity that makes every show unique, be it through silly antics, little playfights or even mundane conversations with Carats in the audience. (Vernon was adamant about the first “Shrek” movie being better than the sequel, and he just had to let some Filipino Carats know.)
Member Dino even brought along “Pi Cheolin” (his comedic alter ego), whose lore would make this article twice as long. It’s the concert debut for everyone’s favorite nosy ahjussi (middle-aged man; mister). The inside joke magically made the stadium seem smaller, as Carats laughed along, chanted along and followed Pi Cheolin’s requests to repeat his sentences.
Hoshi even held a live tutorial of a TikTok challenge to their song “SOS,” which was created by a Filipino Carat. Seventeen and Filipino fans have cultivated a one-of-a-kind rapport, with this being the seventh time the band has visited the country. While the members were already familiar with the boundless energy of Filipinos, it seemed like they just couldn’t get enough of their screams, especially as they welcomed the crowd to the “Follow” festival.
“Follow” was something only Seventeen could have pulled off. Known as the theater kids of K-pop, they turned the stadium into their personal Broadway show, showing off their dance chops for “Home;run” and enchanting the audience with the euphorically apt “God of Music.”
The crowd fervently sang back to Seventeen, and there was no denying how happy the members were to receive the Philippines’ enthusiastic response.
“Perfect,” Hoshi said to the crowd. “Manila Carats are perfect!”
Seventeen’s “Follow” was their personal history, a look back at their storied career. “Follow” itself was a spectacle, literally laying out a flower path for the boys of Seventeen. The boys have bloomed since their debut in 2015, enduring and overcoming every obstacle that came their way. Staying together as a group this long is already a feat in itself; reaching new peaks with every musical era is more unmeasurable success.
Empathy through music
The setlist looked back at their older hits, as they treated newer fans in the audience to classics like “Don’t Wanna Cry.” It was a love letter to themselves and their fans as they performed every single hit that placed them on the map.
The boys of Seventeen have always been known for their empathy, one that comes through in their music. Songs like “FML” were full of sentimental musings, shared by everyone around the world.
For people at the venue, yelling “fight for my life” was cathartic, a moment they’ve looked forward to for months. But this connection with Carats became tangible in concert. At one point, all the members even gathered to help Carats in the standing pit, offering them water and asking them if they were okay.
When Seungkwan had to step out on Saturday (due to health reasons), Carats did their best to fill in for the member. They sang their hearts out during his parts, impressing the members.
Witnessing an idol group who seemingly can’t get enough of their fans was heartwarming. The connection between Seventeen and Carats was a rhapsodic relationship, one that became even more noticeable when the members came out on moving carts that took them closer to the audience. Songs like “Together” made sure that every soul in the stadium could just focus on the beauty of the present with Seventeen, and leave behind their worries, even if it was just for three absolutely magical hours.
For Carats and Seventeen, concerts are homecomings. Loving the members is so easy, that Carats don’t even second guess the crazy amount of preparation and effort they dedicate to their idols. For fans, this weekend was the product of working tirelessly to earn enough money to buy a ticket, the insane stress of ticketing itself, preparing to travel, and even lining up for hours to get to the venue. Carats have long cemented their reputation as a resilient, dedicated fandom, and in Bulacan, this loyalty to Seventeen was what they held on to.
Seventeen has always presented fans with exhilarating concerts, ones where stamina and endurance are not only qualities possessed by the performers onstage, but even the fans themselves. The boys make you feel like anything is possible as they run around the stadium with unrestrained joy. When that first “Aju Nice” finally hit, everyone seemed to be ready to jump, and the stadium shook with electric energy. There was laughing, feeling like little kids, shaking off and leaving behind every worry outside that stadium, as they danced the night away together.
Stars shine bright
The boys even treated Carats to a snippet of their fan song “Headliner,” which they released last year. Truth be told, the members never said goodbye; they left the stage with a “see you later,” and a promise to come back. So as the night ended, it felt like the 32,000 hearts gathered at the stadium that night would just follow the 13 boys, wherever, whenever.
In a world where life is becoming increasingly harder to enjoy, a Seventeen concert is a rare space where life seems worth living. It was just Seventeen and Carats under the Bulacan sky, and stars always shine brightest when they’re together.