MANILA, Philippines—Just like how most K-pop concerts would go, the Mall of Asia Arena was already flooded with 2NE1 fans early May 17. Some lined up as early as they could to get a good spot within the venue, while some did so to have plenty of time to talk K-pop with their fellow fan boys and girls. What’s observable among the crowd though, was the resemblance of 2NE1’s aura that they emitted. Everyone looked unaware, but just like the group they were cheering on and waiting for, the Filipino Blackjack crowd (both males and females) reeked of so much “swag.”
It was already expected that 2NE1’s All Or Nothing tour will be highly attended by local celebrities as one of the girl group’s members, Sandara Park, used to be a local artist in the Philippines herself. It came as a surprise, however, when INQUIRER.net bumped into the likes of Alodia Gosiengfiao (a renowned cosplayer in Asia) as well as Liza Soberano, a rising Kapamilya star.
Alodia who came with her boyfriend Eric Ejercito told INQUIRER.net that she’s also a fan of K-pop. She confessed that she even used to collect albums of different K-pop artists, while 16-year-old Liza shared that she has been listening to 2NE1 since she was 13.
As the media were only allowed to enter the venue by the time the concert was about to start, we had to rush inside the arena when we heard the organizer, Happee Sy-Go, call out a gentle “Starting.”
When we got in, it was an arena packed with colorful light sticks that greeted our sight. Everyone was more than ready to party as much as the girls of 2NE1 were more than prepared to give their Filipino Blackjacks the ultimate concert experience of their lives.
Lights, camera, party!
When the show started, the audience were right away treated to an above-average display of lights. And the sound system? It felt like a fine set of headphones serenading the arena with the heart-thumping party songs of 2NE1.
Avid fans of the group probably already knew that the first track in the concert’s set list is “Crush,” but when Bom, CL, Dara, and Minzy came out, it still appeared that none of them had any idea as the excitement reached its first peak that night, while the screams and cheers got louder and stronger.
From “Crush” to “Fire” to “Clap Your Hands,” the entire arena sang and grooved along with the girls who are performing a full-blown concert in Manila for the first time.
Everyone was then taken to a throwback to 2009 when “Pretty Boy” played. This track is included in the group’s first ever self-titled mini album “2NE1,” released in less than two months after their debut. One more song heightened the crowd’s partying mood, “Don’t Stop Music,” then the girls switched to an emotional ballad with “Missing You,” followed by another sombre song, “If I Were You.”
2NE1 showcased even more of their soulful side with the unplugged version of “Come Back Home” and a mellow “Ugly.”
It’s time for Winner
It was heart-warming when the Blackjack crowd delivered the same intensity of cheers for 2NE1’s hoobae (Korean term for junior), Winner. The boy group composed of Jinwoo, Seunghoon, Mino, Seungyoon, and Taehyun came up on stage right after “Ugly” to showcase their own songs “Just Another Boy” and “Go Up.”
Back to party
The 2NE1 party vibe was gradually revived when the girls came back on stage with colourful outfits to perform “I Love You,” “Gotta Be You,” and “Do You Love Me?.”
“I Love You” sold out in particular as actors Sam Milby, Joross Gamboa, Jason Abalos, and G-Force member Ram Julianda made a special participation in this act. The crowd went wild when each of the girls lap-danced to their partners.
In between songs, Sandara Park would exclaim her remarks in Tagalog, and at the same time, she translated her thoughts to Korean for her members. Before CL’s solo stage, Sandara told the crowd that they are really happy to be celebrating their 5th anniversary in Manila. Minzy followed by saying “I’m so happy to be here. Are you guys happy too?”
After the short dialogue with the audience, the three (Bom, Dara, and Minzy) left the crowd with the music video “Happy.”
World-class calibre performances
When the group’s leader, CL, came out for her solo stage, the supposed “Korean pop” concert turned into what seemed like a Beyonce or Shakira show. CL caused mouths to hang wide and open with her sizzling performance of “The Baddest Female” and “MTBD (Mental Breakdown).”
After her solo, CL did not change outfits anymore as she was immediately joined on stage by the other three for “Scream” and “I Am the Best.”
The Pambansang Krung-Krung ng Pilipinas
What came next caused the crowd to crack in laughter as Sandara Park successfully made her 2NE1-mates do the new “in” expression “Boom Panes” popularized by Kapamilya star Vice Ganda.
But when they got back to business, CL said that it means so much to the group to be here as they know that the Philippines is “Dara’s hometown.”
One of the much-awaited performances of the night has got to be “I Don’t Care.” Some must have expected to hear the pop and sweet version of the song, but what 2NE1 brought to the floor was a rock version that allowed not just the girls but also the crowd to headbang.
The arena then got back to dancing and jumping when the set list finally got to another crowd favorite “Go Away.”
The show has supposedly ended after “Go Away,” but 2NE1 knew that their Blackjacks will probably ask for more. So after quite a while of hearing the crowd cheer for an encore, the girls came back in tees and pants to perform “Lonely,” “In Our Out,” (this time it wasn’t just Sandara who performed it but the entire group), “Gotta Be You,” and “Can’t Nobody.”
They also blew their birthday cakes, chatted with fans, thanked their management and staff, and showcased their handsome managers on stage (seemingly headlined by Jjangmae) before they officially ended the show.
The fire that keeps burning
One of the realizations that hit this writer after the concert was this: even after five years of being in the music industry, 2NE1’s fire can only burn bigger and hotter. Equipped with their melodious songs, unique artistry, and highly-competent management, 2NE1 has more than enough fuel to keep travelling in this musical journey where they are loved not just by one nation but by the whole world.
It was, in fact, a cherry hit for Sandara when she said that it is their music and fans that make them unique, because in ways more than one, this is true for 2NE1.
They weren’t kidding when they said they will set the roof on fire. They did, and this made every attendee of their “All or Nothing” tour H-A-P-P-Y.
The 2NE1 All Or Nothing Tour in Manila was brought to us by PULP Live World.