By Cecille Santillan-Visto
Seungri, Glory & TPA
June 2, midnight
Cove Manila, Okada Manila
THE PECULIARITY with male Korean pop groups is that at some point in their career, the band will go on hiatus. By force of circumstances — or more aptly, due to the mandatory military service required of able-bodied adult male Koreans — groups either go on an involuntary 24-month respite or perform as an incomplete unit or members pursue solo careers while waiting for their band to regroup.
It is no different for Seungri of the phenomenal K-pop group, Big Bang.
With Big Bang’s leader G-Dragon, lead vocalists Taeyang and Daesung, and rapper T.O.P. now serving in the Korean armed forces, the youngest member Seungri has been given the unique opportunity to embark on more solo projects.
Over the weekend, the 27-year-old Seungri showed that he can command an audience and own the stage even without the support of his sunbae (senior members). He performed to a jampacked crowd at the Cove Manila of Okada Manila, with veteran Korean DJs TPA and Glory as his back-up.
Clad in a simple white shirt with a jeepney graphic, white pants, rubber shoes, and a red cap, and without a trace of his usual heavy stage makeup, Seungri was not 1/5 of a group when he entertained his Filipino fans last Saturday. He was the main act and he mixed, sang, and danced obviously elated that he was playing to a sold-out audience. The audience members paid to see Seungri — whom they last saw in the Manila leg of Big Bang’s MADE concert in July 2015 — and the VIPs (the Big Bang fandom) did not go home disappointed.
The singer-actor, who also has a number of Korean dramas and reality shows under his belt, kicked off his performance by demonstrating his DJing skills. He received help from Glory and TPA, who are both master music mixers and talents from Seungri’s electronic music label, Natural High Records.
He spun electronic dance music, unsurprising liberally peppering his repertoire with snippets of Big Bang hits. His fans came in full force, raising Big Bang’s signature yellow light sticks as he dished out song after song from the DJ’s booth.
Cove Manila, a 9,000-square meter indoor beach club and nightclub, was Seungri’s playground for the night. VIP guests who steered clear of the mosh pit enjoyed the show from the elevated platforms or in the comfort of the exclusive cabanas which also broadcast the show live.
Although not known for his strong vocals, Seungri sang abridged versions of Big Bang hits such as “Bang, Bang, Bang” from the MADE album and “Good Boy.” He somehow made up for his relatively short vocal range by performing with gusto.
He ended his main set with “Fantastic Baby,” one of Filipino fans’ favorite Big Bang songs.
While his English is limited, he managed to update his fans on his life without Big Bang.
“My solo album is going to be out. I have 10 amazing songs for you,” he said, promising that he will return for a solo concert in Manila.
Seungri is not new to the Filipino club scene. Prior to his Cove Manila show, he also had a one-night stint in a club in Cebu. Last October, he was a guest DJ in Valkyrie, performing with label mate, 2NE1’s Dara Park.
The time off from his band allows Seungri, whose stage name literally translates to “victory,” to pursue his passions without perceived limitations. He obviously has miles to go before he can earn recognition for his DJing. But the spotlight is on him and having been largely identified as part of a blockbuster band, holding his own is itself a feat.
By Cecille Santillan-Visto