By Cecille Santillan-Visto
iKON 2018 Continue Tour in Manila
Mall of Asia Arena
Nov. 11, 2018
UNLIKE IN beauty pageants, the “spare tire” principle does not apply to reality shows. The winner usually proceeds to sign the hefty, multi-year, exclusive contract, receive all the accolades, and, for all intents and purposes, makes the runner-up eat dust.
Not so in the case of iKON.
iKON is a group formed from the reality survival program WIN: Who Is Next, broadcasted over Korea’s Mnet in 2013. YG Entertainment was looking to introduce a new boy band, pitting two teams against each other. Team A clinched the crown and debuted as Winner, but Team B, which would later form the nucleus of iKON, was also given the chance to launch following the determination of the final members through another show, Mix & Match.
Though they were then the losers, iKON is arguably now one of the most popular Korean pop bands. Their sheer determination and, more importantly, worldwide fan support fueled largely by social media, saved them from the brink of disbandment. Now after five years, they are on their first world concert tour.
The passion of iKON’s fans, called the iKONics, was evident during the Manila leg of the group’s concert. The SM Mall of Asia Arena was packed to the brim, prompting member Bobby to request the fans at the VIP standing area to enjoy the concert but to remain safe. The fan projects were also well-orchestrated, such as the simultaneous opening of mobile phone lights with assigned stickers, which created a sea of rainbow colors.
iKON’s “Love Scenario,” the main track in the album Return, skyrocketed the group’s career. It not only topped seven music charts in Korea in February, the song also remained number one in the Gaon Weekly chart for six weeks. iKON is the only K-pop artist to achieve such a milestone.
While “Love Scenario” catapulted iKON to full-fledged stardom — and they sang the song twice for good measure in the concert — there were other equally notable pieces in the repertoire of the seven members: leader B.I, Bobby, Jay, Song, DK, Ju-ne, and Chan.
iKON kicked off with “Bling Bling,” the perfect hip-hop number to get the crowd into the groove, which was followed by “Sinosijak,” which, although it does not have any definite meaning in Korean, fueled more fire into the already pumped up audience. In “Rhythm Ta,” the boys found themselves dishing out some sexy hip moves.
During the intermission, the Filipino fans learned that member Jay had lived in Davao for a few months. He shared, to the delight of spectators, that he could even speak Visayan. But what was impressive about iKON is that during the concert’s extended intermissions — there were about three or four of them throughout the two-hour show — the group did not need an interpreter to get their message across. Bobby was very fluent in English, B.I was consciously checking his grammar as he spoke but was better at expressing himself than most Korean stars who have visited Manila. As their message was not lost in translation — Bobby was on hand to interpret for his fellow members — the audience fully understood the group when they expressed appreciation towards the very enthusiastic and supportive crowd.
Some members performed either solo or as a unit. The vocal line sang the ballad “Perfect” while Bobby performed “Holup” with such gusto that it was easy to understand why he is the most recognizable iKON member. B.I sang “One and Only” and later, “Anthem,” a duet with Bobby.
Pulp was on point when it came to the stage and set — providing extended and second stages for the fans; three large LED screens at the center with two more on each side; and stage lighting that was vibrant but not too overpowering. Although there were some instances when red seemed overused, this was understandable as this is the group’s official color.
Aside from “Love Scenario,” the highly infectious “B-Day” also deserved an encore. “Dumb and Dumber,” “Freedom,” “Best Friend,” “Cocktail,” “My Type,” and “Everything” were also part of the set list. The most awaited “Killing Me” had dancing and chanting “jukgetda.” It was a balanced mix of hip-hop, ballads, and dance numbers. While the members are not as meticulous with their choreography as other boy bands, iKON made up for it with their powerful vocals and fervid delivery.
iKON also had some treats for the Manila leg of the world tour, singing some songs that were not part of the original setlist such as the newly released “Goodbye Road,” from the New Kids: The Final album.
While it has a negative connotation, being second best is not always bad. iKON has, in fact, overtaken some of its contemporaries by leaps and bounds. Indeed, runners-up can, and rightfully so, secure that elusive iconic status.
By Cecille Santillan-Visto