Epik High – We The Fest 2017, Jakarta International Expo, August 12, 2017

Epik High 9
Tablo & DJ Tukutz

I am in love with Tablo!

He is one of the most ‘stagegenic’ performers I have ever seen. I don’t know whether it’s the pose, the clothes, the hair or all of those things rolled into one, but they work really well in turning Tablo into a very photographable object. He reminds me so much of Lisa Stansfield. Almost not a single photo of them comes out bad.

I am not a fan of Epik High. In fact, “Shoebox” is their only album I ever listen to. I do know Tablo though, as Haru’s dad in KBS’ variety show “The Return of the Superman”, but that did not make me want to listen to their music right away.

It was a strange coincidence that just as soon as I began to re-listen to “Shoebox”, which basically a constant looping of ‘Amor Fati’, Epik High’s collaboration with Nell’s Kim Jong Wan, ‘We The Fest’ also announced that Epik High would be included as one of this year’s festival lineup not long after. And thank goodness that it’s an international music festival, because it saves me from the stingy Korean concerts’ ‘no camera’ rule.

Having never seen any of their full performances before, not even on YouTube, I didn’t know what to expect, but Epik High really blew me away. They are very attractive and energised with Tablo running around from one side of the stage to the other. It is undeniable that he is the magnet of the group. Tablo is another great example of how ideally a frontman should really be. He nonchalantly made fluid conversations with the audience in between songs, thanks to his fluent English. The fact that he used to live in Jakarta for 3 years in his early age is probably the most awaited subject that the audience hoped Tablo would talk about. He said that it is the first time that he returned to Indonesia after so many years. Tablo pulang kampung!

Epik High’s performance was impressive not because it was carefully designed, like most of the K-pop acts I have seen before. No big stage, crazy lightings or choreographed dances, and sadly, no ‘Amor Fati’. The stage is very simple with some K-drama & K-movie clips weirdly playing in the background (maybe they are related to the lyrics, if only I understood Korean). It’s only them, their music and their engagement with the audience, and those alone are enough to make them the best performers of the night among others I’ve seen that night, Phoenix and Potret. They are truly EPIK!

1. Born Hater
2. Up
3. Get Out the World
4. Burj Khalifa
5. Eyes Nose Lips
6. Map The Soul
7. Rich
8. Love Love Love
9. Kill This Love
10. High Technology
11. One
12. New Beautiful
13. Fan
Encore:
14. Don’t Hate Me
Epik High 3
DJ Tukutz & Tablo
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Tablo
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Tablo

 

 

 

Epik High 29
DJ Tukutz & Tablo
Epik High 32
DJ Tukutz & Mithra Jin
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Tablo
Epik High 45
Epik High
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2017 CNBLUE Live Between Us in Jakarta – Indonesia Convention Exhibition BSD, July 15, 2017

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Lee Jung Shin, Kang Ming Hyuk, Jung Yong Hwa, Lee Jong Hyun

I have a chronic case of being in love and in hate with CNBLUE. I have to say, their music is not brilliant. It’s not even on par with, let’s say, Nell or Kiha and The Faces. Though earlier albums are pretty good, recent albums have been frustration after frustration. This seems to be a problem with a band that’s treated like an idol group. Instead of digging and exploring their musicality and messages that they want to convey, CNBLUE seems to be more infatuated with the idea of concepts, just like any other money-machine idol group. Concept album is great, if you have things to say. Important things, and not some spring-inspired sound. WHAT… THE… HECK!!!

But the thing is, you can always count on their live performances. They have always been great. At least from what I saw on TV and YouTube. And the “Between Us” show is no exception. Despite the poor sound system and the hall’s acoustic (I caught Jong Hyun a few times looking quite upset because of the mic’s volume and probably his troubled monitor. A few times he and Yong Hwa sang off-key too), they gave a high-octane performance, which I have to say largely thanks to sugar-rushed Yong Hwa who looked like an energizer bunny high on steroids.

They went on 2,5 hours almost non-stop and with little conversation in between. I have no problem with that as long as they deliver a stellar show, which they did. Yong Hwa is admittedly a commendable frontman. It’s safe to say that it was practically he alone that carried the group’s interaction with the audience. I would love to hear more from Jong Hyun (as he is my so-called bias in the group and also one of my favourite voices in K-pop), unfortunately the sound system problem just ruined the chance to listen to his deep melancholic voice at full capacity. Having said that, though he’s supposedly my bias, it was Min Hyuk who really stole my eyes. Cute and sexy at the same time (pardon my being a perv).

I’m really glad that I decided to go at the last minute, otherwise I’d regret it. To be honest, it was We Got Married that brought me to CNBLUE, as cliché as it may sound. After two years of wasting my time on shipping Lee Jong Hyun & Gong Seung Yeon, wouldn’t it be a complete waste if I didn’t go when I had the chance? Yup, I know. Excuses, excuses LOL.

Now, out of the boys’ performance topic, I have to say that I’m really, really satisfied with my phone camera. No, we’re not talking about professional smartphone photography, just the regular amateurish fan photography. Some of the more high-end smartphones don’t even fare well in the low-light condition despite the massive stage lighting (I’m looking at you, iPhone). Compared to the more sophisticated Android phones, I’d say it only loses in the detail department. And sound. Hence, I didn’t record many videos (other than I ran out of space LMAO).

What bothered me, of course, since I didn’t stand in the middle, most of the photos came out being too asymmetrical. To those who know me well, they’d know that it bothers the heck out of me. So I had to give in to Photoshop, again, to make some stretches and fine tuning without changing much of the original photos. I think.

So here they are. For once, I’m being less picky and just post them all.

Setlist (based on 2017 CNBLUE Live Between Us in Seoul)
1. Intro
2. Radio
3. When I Was Young
4. Domino
5. I’m Sorry
6. Can’t Stop
7. It’s You
8. L.O.V.E GIRL
9. Sweet Holiday
10. LOVE
11. Lie
12. Blind Love
13. Royal Rumble
14. In My Head
15. You’re So Fine
16. Face To Face
17. Wake Up
18. Feeling
19. Coffee Shop
20. Cinderella
21. Between Us
Encore (Acoustic)
1. Catch Me
2. Manito
3. Young Forever

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Lee Jong Hyun
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Jung Yong Hwa
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Lee Jung Shin & Lee Jong Hyun
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See how energetic Yonghwa is?

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My poor quality video. The sound’s so messy 😦

 

 

 

 

2PM World Tour ‘Go Crazy’ 2015 in Jakarta – Istora Senayan, March 28, 2015

Edited from my previous post published earlier here:

Finally! I got the chance to watch The (arguably) Best Looking Bunch in Idols Universe’s concert (it’s the title I crowned them after having watched too many episodes of Inkigayo).

2PM World Tour ‘Go Crazy’ 2015 was my first K-Pop concert experience and I was really impressed. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t know them earlier. Had I known them as well as I do now, I would’ve made time to watch their performance in the Blackberry’s Live & Rockin’ Concert in 2011. Back then, it was only Suede that attracted me to go.

The show started at 6.30 PM sharp and it lasted for 2,5 hours. Pretty long I say. But due to my stupidity, I only managed to get into the concert hall when it was almost the second half of the show. I have to admit, these boys didn’t disappoint. Based on my previous experiences watching boyband concerts which all happened to be the ‘first-world countries’ boybands’ (LMAO), I think this was the first time that I felt truly mind-blown.

The problem with those first-world boybands is that I often feel that they don’t give their all at times. They are often caught laughing or giggling from inside jokes at the back of the stage. I get that they might be exhausted from all the shows they have to do, but here’s the problem. Some fans have to save a lot of money just to see their idols live and up close. For some it even takes months or even years to do so. So if they’re acting like “What country is this again? Oh, we might as well make a stop while we’re around”, that’s just unacceptable. New Kids On The Block was kind of like that when they had their first concert here back in 1992.

It was a completely different case with these boys. Throughout the concert (which I only got to watch half part of it), I hardly caught them fooling around with each other, at least not until the very end of the show. There was also no hint of boredom and tiredness. Everyone focused on entertaining the audience. So was when they had to bid farewell, it came across as a sincere goodbye. No repetitive saccharine sweet words of parting. My guess is (which still needs to be proven by watching more K-Pop shows) that it has something to do with Korean psyche to serve others pleasantly. It translated seemingly genuine as “we are here because of you” rather than just a mere lip-service.

The only problem I had was that I didn’t grow up listening to their music. I have no memory whatsoever about them in my adolescent years. So even if their performance was mind-blowing and hard-hitting, it didn’t really hit me that hard, though it did leave a wide smile on my face.

But then again, it could be just a problem with the sound and the melody. I can totally be immersed in Kim Dong Ryul’s songs because they give the same feeling of memory melancholia like those of The Carpenters’, for instance.

1. Heartbeat
2. Without You
3. HOT
4. Go Crazy! (미친거 아니야?)
5. 10점 만점에 10점 (10 Points Out Of 10)
6. The Word, Love (사랑한단 말) (Taecyeon & Chansung)
7. Please Come Back (돌아와줘) (Taecyeon & Chansung)
8. Rain Is Falling (비가와)
9. I’m Sorry
10. Come Back When You Hear This Song (이 노래를 듣고 돌아와)
11. A Night Like Tonight (오늘 같은 밤)
12. Hands Up
13. No Love (Intro) (Jun.K)
14. Sexy Lady (Intro) (Wooyoung)
15. Superman (Jun.K & Wooyoung)
16. Sexy Lady
17. I’m Your Man
18. A.D.T.O.Y. (하.니.뿐.)
19. Love Is True (Nichkhun & Junho)
20. Sayang Semuanya (Chansung)
21. Dekat Di Hati (Chansung & Wooyoung)
22. Again And Again
23. Tired Of Waiting (기다리다 지친다 ), I Hate You (니가 밉다), As Soon As (마자) (Medley)
24. I’ll Be Back
25. Don’t Stop, Can’t Stop
26. Game Over
Encore
27. 이별여행 (Farewell Journey)
28. Hands Up + Go Crazy! (미친거 아니야?) (Medley)

 

Their pronunciations of RAN’s “Dekat Di Hati” was actually quite impressive

 

So Ji Sub Fan Meeting – Twenty: The Moment in Jakarta, Kasablanka Hall, April 7, 2017

Thank God for Photoshop, filters and presets! I’m no purist, and at times like these, they come in really handy.

Most K-Pop live shows in Jakarta typically won’t allow the audience to bring any type of camera, at least the ones that I have gone to (except for 2PM’s, I think). Bummer. So you only have your smartphone camera to rely on. Unless you’re in the front row seats, chance is you’ll get nothing but a stage, the screens and a tiny figure of the star(s), or pixelated images due to forced zoom in, which I always try to avoid.

Good thing when he switched roles from So Ji Sub the actor into So Ji Sub the rapper, he asked the crowd to join ‘the party’. Yah, who wants to sit while dancing to hiphop tunes, that’d be weird. So everyone got up and some even swarmed to the front of the stage, especially those in the front section, including me, hence the almost close up shots.

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Sumringah faces of fangirls (and fanboy). Cr: Mecimapro

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Tommy Page: Come Home – Upper Room, November 15, 2013

Tommy Page entered the mainstream pop scene with “A Shoulder To Cry On” in 1988. That time I was only 10 years old. But he only came to fame two years later with a smash hit “I’ll Be Your Everything” which was co-written by Page, Jordan Knight, and Danny Wood of New Kids On The Block. Unfortunately it was short-lived. The third album saw the decline of his popularity in his homeland, though he continued to have relatively mediocre hits in Asia, mainly in Southeast Asia.

In don’t think I ever saw his live show when he was still at the peak of his popularity. So when he came to have a fan meeting in a mall in Bekasi, I thought just have to go. Then I guess luck was still on my side because at the last minute, a friend gave me a pair of tickets to his “Come Home” concert. Probably Southeast Asia still feels kind of like home to him.

To be honest, I hardly remember how that concert went, however I do remember how his 2016 concert, “Up Close and Personal With Tommy Page” was. His voice, though often shaky and sometimes out of tune, still sounded like how it was on the record. I couldn’t help cringing every time he danced to some cheesy choreography. Despite the shy image, he lived up the room with self-deprecating jokes about his singing career which only add charm to his gawky and humble persona. Now looking back after his passing earlier this March, I wonder if those jokes in a way were a cry for help. Many speculated that he suffered from depression, which led to suicide.

His shows, much like his career, were nothing spectacular nor sensational. It was his melancholy songs and sincere performance that made the concert felt so heartwarming and nostalgic.

1. Zillion Kisses
2. Turn On The Radio
3. I’m Falling In Love/Missing You
4. Paintings in My Mind
5. When I Dream of You
Excerpt: I Still Believe in You and Me (With Pongki Barata)
6. I Break Down
7. Just Before (I Was Gonna Say I Love You)
8. I Think I’m In Love
10. Madly In Love
11. Don’t Give Up On Love (Featuring Citra Scholastika)
12. Time
13. Tell The World
14. I’ll Be Your Everything
15. A Shoulder To Cry On
*from various sources

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Alicia Keys Set The World On Fire Tour – Skenoo Exhibition Hall, November 29, 2013

Taken from my note after watching the concert, updated with some revisions

I would like to think that watching Alicia Keys’ last night’s concert was a ‘To Feel Experiment’. How does it feel to watch (again) the performance of a musician that I was once loved so much, but now not even a single song can be found on my iPod?

It felt weird to be honest, because I couldn’t feel even the slightest of excitement.

I remember watching Keys’ first concert in Jakarta a few years ago in 2008, cramming in the festival class and singing along to all of her songs. Each and every one of them. But I suspected most of the people only came to watch her sing ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ because that was the only song that I heard was sang the loudest from the beginning to the end. Last night? All I really wanted was for the show to be over as soon as possible because my feet hurt like hell hahak!

Back in the days, I was really into the Motown and Neo Soul sound. Years passed and I still very much enjoy them, but I don’t listen to Keys anymore. Keys’ first two albums were actually great in terms of the sound, but the third album for me saw the signs of her decline, which in line with the genre’s popularity decline itself. Keys began to scream out her songs, which in my opinion, none of them is as catchy as her earlier works. What was already corny got even cornier like those of motivational quotes. I like the singer-songwriter type of singers and it really annoys me when a singer-songwriter wrote very banal lyrics with titles such as ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Superwoman’. A real superwoman, if there is such a thing, I guess would never say ‘I’m a superwoman’, doh. She has become one of those ‘pop icon quasi feminist,’ preaching too many jargons to the point I didn’t think I could listen to her music anymore. They are just… lame.

I found the best moments of the concert were ironically when Keys brought her son, Egypt, to the stage and two of her background singers sang the classic ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’, of which no one seemed to know. So let me continue my rant here. Just like back in 2013, it’s so typical of Keys’ Jakartans audience. Very few of them seem to know anything else beyond her music, or even her hits. This Neo Soul genre seems to attract the middle upper class kids, perhaps because it was kind of brought here by the rich kids who studied in the US and were spread among their circles at first. Rather than trying to actually understand the root of Soul music itself, this type of audience seem to just superficially associate themselves with the cool façade of its’ image. It’s really frustrating when you’re in a Neo Soul concert and very few people know Marvin Gaye’s song, let alone who Marvin Gaye is.

Anyway, I only watched it out of my curiosity and just for the sake of taking some concert pictures. Thanks to my dear friend Yanne, I had the chance to re-examine the experience.

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Yanne & I. Pardon the blurry picture. None of us was good in taking selfie

Performance-wise, I genuinely think it’s still a great show, just like the first one. It’s just that I just don’t feel her anymore.

Karma
You Don’t Know My Name
Tears Always Win
Listen to Your Heart
Like You’ll Never See Me Again
A Woman’s Worth
Diary
Love You Down
Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)
Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart
101
Fallin’
I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By (performed by background vocalists)
When It’s All Over
Fire We Make
Unbreakable
Not Even the King
If I Ain’t Got You
No One
New Day
Murder She Wrote
Girl On Fire
Encore
Brand New Me
Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down

 

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Electric: Pet Shop Boys Live – Jakarta Convention Center, August 17, 2013

I am not exactly a PSB die-hard fan, but I wouldn’t miss the chance to watch their performance live. It’s the legendary PSB for God’s sake! Thank goodness luck was on my side. At the very last minute, Anya got me a free festival ticket from her cousin whose company he worked for sponsoring the concert. Woohoo!

Entering JCC, looked like it was going to be a pool of Jakarta’s “anak lama”, the scene kids and gay scenes melt into one in this one giant dance floor. And it was. It was like being in some underground gay club in London, where everybody lose themselves in disco and synth-pop tunes (pfft like I have ever been to one).

The stage might be small and could look rather empty with only Tennant, Lowe and the two backup dancers occupying the stage, but the void was filled in and juxtaposed with flashy and colourful, slightly futuristic visuals in the background, lasers and lightings, and of course their haute-couture-inspired and grand theatrical costumes. You are definitely in for a treat when there are two people with buffalo heads dancing to a creepy intro on the stage. It’s genius.  The show was truly a feast to the ears, eyes and soul. Yup, soul. No, I’m not exaggerating *rolling eyes*

The setlist consisted of 24 songs, including the encore. Sadly, “Being Boring” was not there.

1. Axis
2. One More Chance / A Face Like That
3. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)
4. Memory of the Future (‘New Single Mix’ version)
5. Fugitive
6. Integral
7. Sample of “The Rite of Spring”
8. I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing
9. Suburbia
10. I’m Not Scared
11. Fluorescent
12. West End Girls
13. Somewhere
14. Leaving
15. Thursday
16. Love Etc.
17. I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)
18. Rent
19. Miracles
20. It’s a Sin
21. Domino Dancing
22. Always on My Mind

Encore

23. Go West
24. Vocal

Perhaps what sets PSB apart from today’s overabundant gimmicky artists is the substance of their music and performance despite sounding “fun”, as described by Stuart Maconie in a review for Q magazine. He described their personae as the academic and the hedonist – and played on this in their public image and lyrics. An idea you cannot escape watching their concert. It was brilliantly fun. One of the best concerts ever, ever, EVVEEERRR!!!

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Anya & me smiling widely in front of the standing banner