Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Concert Review: A Gangnam-filled Night

A Gangnam-filled Night
Written by Jamie Ortega || Photos by Kevin Pableo
If I were to make a list of 2012’s biggest breakthrough artists, Korean musician Psy would be my top choice- no questions asked. I remember the first time I saw Gangnam Style on Youtube: I came across the words “Gangnam Style” while browsing the list of trending topics on microblogging site Twitter and I knew I had to discover what the fuss was all about. Before I knew it I had opened my Youtube account, was mimicking the steps in my mind, and trying my best to muffle my laughter.

Unlike a lot of other Twitter trending topics, that wasn’t the last time I heard Gangnam. Undeniably the biggest song of 2012, the hit song reached the milestone of one billion You Tube views on December 21, 2012. It even broke into hoax territory when a spoof documentary by videographer Simon Gosselin was posted on Youtube linking Gangnam Style to a fake Nostradamus prophecy.

So what exactly is the secret to Gangnam Style’s success? Is it the catchy dance moves? The “dress classy dance cheesy” tagline? Or maybe the universal message of the song? (For people not in the know the song talks about people who pretend to be trendy, hip, and supposedly classy when in reality they are far from it.) Whatever the case may be, last February 16 at the Mall Of Asia Arena, I witnessed how truly Gangnam-crazy Pinoys are as thousands of fans braved the weekend traffic for Psy’s one night only concert entitled Ang Tanging Valentine Show. Sharing equal billing that night was The Philippine Comedy Concert Queen Ai-ai delas Alas.

I must admit I was never really a fan of Ai-Ai. I knew she was funny but she never had a big impact on me. That is, ‘till I saw her perform that night. Ai-Ai is really at her best onstage in a comedy-bar type of set-up where she can trade barbs with the audience and feed off their energy. One of the best parts of Ai-Ai’s performance was when she called three men to the stage, sang to them, and teased them. Overall, her jokes were universal in nature, not too safe and not too racy. One of my favorite jokes was when she saw a younger Caucasian guy in the audience together with an older woman. “Sipsipin mo ang kabataan nya ha!” joked Ai to the girl. Ai-ai proved her mettle as an entertainer as well by enthralling the audience with popular tunes, singing and dancing to  Rihanna’s Where have you been, Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”, Wonder Girl’s “Nobody”, and 2NE1’s “Fire.”

Like Ai-AI, I never really latched on to Jose And Wally. I knew that they started out in Eat Bulaga and their last concert was a big hit, but that was it. As I watched the two ace comedians duke it out onstage I began to understand their appeal as well. Right from the time Jose Manalo began his repertoire with a demonic laugh, signaling the start of their set to the moment they left the stage they had the audience at the palm of their hand. There were also several times when they would go down into the audience but not as much as Ai-Ai’s. Also, the general tone of their jokes was naughtier and more sexual in nature. Before they left the stage for good, Jose and Wally rendered two songs and I absolutely loved both choices because they appealed to different markets. The first one was Tuloy Parin Ako by Side A, and the other was the phenomenal Macho Gwapito and Katawan. In their own way, Jose and Wally paid tribute to Psy by choosing a song that also got its’ break in 2012  a nice touch indeed!
It was around 11pm when Psy finally appeared onstage wearing an all-white ensemble and his  signature black shades. The first thing that came to my mind when I laid my eyes on him was how normal-sized his physique was. He looked a bit chunky onscreen (blame it on the 10 pounds that automatically go on you when you appear on TV-yikes!) and a lot thinner in person. Apart from that, I was really impressed with how Psy handled the audience. Even though it seemed like I was in the middle of an exercise video at first, I appreciated how he made the fans more involved by saying his performance would be dependent on the energy and overall reaction of the crowd. By the time the third song, Paradise came around; Psy showed he meant business by requesting to have the lights turned on so he could the spot people in the audience who weren’t participating. He even sized up the nature of shouts he was getting from the crowd, talking about how long and how loud the cheers were.

 Despite my lack of knowledge of the Korean language, I found myself humming along to the other songs Psy performed like the danceable ditty Champion. They were very catchy and I wouldn’t be surprised if we will have another hit of Gangnam-esque proportions this year. As expected, Gangnam was Psy’s last song of the night. As my eyes swerved around the Arena, I could see everyone doing the Gangnam to their heart’s content! It was really an amazing and super fun sight to see.  As soon as the song was over the audience immediately asked for more. But before Psy gave in to everyone’s request to do the Gangnam the second time, he shared a message concert enthusiasts like me can definitely apply. Psy asked the audience to take down their camera phones and videocams so they could enjoy the moment. The Korean musician pointed out that they probably already have multiple photos of his face which actually made perfect sense! How many times do we concentrate on documenting an event again and again, forgetting the reason why we are doing it in the first place. That lesson, together with the spectacular performances onstage made for one awesome Valentines’ Day weekend.

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