Monday, December 5, 2016

A Monsta Fan-Meet: Monsta X in Manila: The First Asia Fan Meeting Roundup

Written by Danice Mae Sison
Photos by Yam Enriquez

Whenever a K-pop group visits the Philippines, it is always a given that they are greeted with the warmest welcome from their fan base, doubly so if it’s their first time in the country. It wasn’t surprising that Monsta X was met with a barrage of fangirl (and boy) screaming at their very first fan meet in the Philippines, but it was still very exciting to witness.

Monsta X’s First Asia Fan Meeting has been very much anticipated by Monbebes (the official Monsta X fandom name) from all over the Philippines since its announcement back in September. The giddiness was palpable as fans gathered at the SM City North Edsa on November 27 to wait for the doors of the Skydome to open. Most of the fans hailed from Metro Manila, but some really made an effort to travel from their home towns of Olongapo and a handful even came from Naga!

The fan meet was scheduled at 6PM, but by 2PM the area was already a flurry of fan-fueled anticipation. Clusters of Monbebes were already exchanging fan-created goods, some handing out cheering banners and even wearing head bands bearing the faces of their Monsta X biases, ala Mickey Mouse ears! All were there to let their Monsta X flags fly in support of their favorite group.

At 3PM, Monsta X walked onto the stage to greet members of the press for a brief Q&A. The boys looked amazing. Dressed from head-to-toe in black, Shownu, Wonho, Hyungwon, Minhyuk, Jooheon, Kihyun and I.M. locked in formation to introduce themselves. The group’s leader Shownu gave the cue before all seven members gave their greeting in unison.“Hoo! Monsta X. Annyeong haseyo! Monsta X imnida!”

The result of the MNet reality talent show “No Mercy”, Monsta X has enjoyed considerable success and popularity with four mini-albums since their debut in 2015. Their first mini-album, “Tresspass” launched the seven-member group with an intense title track and a tough bad-boy image. They released “Rush” the same year, and watched their fan base grow even more after the abs-baring choreography of their comeback track,“Hero”.

This year, Monsta X released two more mini-albums - The Clan Pt 1 (Lost) and The Clan Pt 2.5 (Guilty). Released in May and October respectively, both mini-albums continue to showcase the group’s penchant for powerful, rap-oriented songs and muscular choreography.

Their first fan-meet in the country follows hot on the heels of their most recent comeback track, “Fighter”.

What have the boys learned since their debut? I.M, the group’s maknae, or youngest member answered that their experience with live performance and concerts have grown considerably, and that they looked forward to showing this to their fans later on at the show. Minhyuk, the resident “happy virus” of the group showed off a few choice Filipino phrases he wanted to share with the Monbebes like “Mahal namin kayo” while Shownu, ever a man of very few words, hung back and let his members have their turn at the microphone.

Shortly after the doors finally opened at 5.30PM, and the intimate venue quickly becoming packed, the fans began singing and fan-chanting along to the piped in Monsta X tracks. It was only a matter of minutes before their favorites appeared in the flesh! The screams were positively deafening - a sure sign of love and devotion for the group.

The fan-meet games were pretty fun to watch, even though the voices of the fan-meet hosts Kring Elizalde-Kim and Dasuri Choi could barely be heard amidst the non-stop screaming. For the first game, a lie-detector toy was brought out for “Truth Or Lie?” A statement would flash on the screen behind each member and the boys took turns agreeing or disagreeing with it. The members risked receiving tiny electric shocks from the toy should they get caught telling a lie.

Most of them were pretty honest, like Shownu, who said that he didn’t envy the MC role, and I.M who truthfully said that he sometimes felt that the other members acted younger then he did. Meanwhile, Minhyuk totally got a shock when he lied about secretly eating meat. His disclaimer was that he did, and that he usually ate meat together with his members. Wonho claimed he was best at selfies (an arguable point, as he’s known to be the most uninhibited when it comes to making ugly faces when taking selfies!)

The second game was more interactive. Seven audience members were called to the stage for the “Be Quiet” game, which was basically Charades. The lucky selected Monbebes were a mix of fangirls and boys who were thrilled to each be partnered up with a member of Monsta X, forming seven teams. Each team was made to pick a letter from the name MONSTA X, which in turn had a corresponding category ranging from Animals to a wild-card, “anything goes” Random category. The Monsta X members had to act out the word or phrase and their fan-partners had to guess the answer. The pair with the most number of correct answers wins. The prize? A back hug from all the members!

Monsta X performed songs from all four of their mini-albums. Monbebes brought their cheering A-game, geared with slogans and some even brandishing unofficial light sticks, singing along to older stuff like “Honestly” and “Trespass” and the newer songs like “Ex-Girl” and “Be Quiet”. The boys even changed their stage outfits four times!

At some point they came onstage wearing assorted kigurumi, or animal onesies. A fan in the audience was wearing the exact same onesie Minhyuk was and he even waved at her! The boys did a medley of recent K-pop girl group cover dances, bringing out the softer and playful side of Monsta X. They performed Gfriend’s “Me Gustas Tu”, Red Velvet’s “Dumb Dumb” and Twice’s “Cheer Up” - which the fans absolutely loved. Fans finally got to see Jooheon’s famous aegyo (charms) in person and the usually deadpan I.M was also a hit with the crowd, gamely dancing to his own version of the viral track PPAP (“Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen”) while fans egged him on. Segments like these are always amusing and generate so much love from the fans because it shows that while the group may project a tough image, deep inside they have the heart of a plush toy.

It wasn’t a full concert, yet it felt very much like one. Monsta X gave as good as they got - and they got it really good from the Filipino Monbebes. The boys looked like they had an awesome time interacting and partying with their fans. Of course those who were lucky enough to score Royalty passes could practically count the beads of sweat on the members’ foreheads, but even all the way from the General Admission section, and from the second floor balcony, the enthusiasm, energy and passion for Monsta X was nothing short of thunderous .

For two and a half hours, Monsta X delivered a tight show filled with the powerful performances the group is known for plus a few very cute and unforgettable surprises sprinkled in between. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they come back for a bigger, fiercer and more explosive show!

(Special thanks to Pulp Live World)

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