By Cecille Santillan-Visto

Concert Review
The BOYZ Asia Fan-Con Tour:
The Castle in Manila
June 30
New Frontier Theater

THERE are basically two types of Korean pop events held regularly in Manila — concerts and fan meetings. Presumably to get the best of both worlds, the 12-member group The Boyz combined the two concepts to come up with a “fan-con” tour in Asia dubbed as The Castle.

They played some games and extended the usual perks that come with a fan meeting, such as high touch and group photo sessions. In the second half of the show, the Korean team — comprised of Sangyeon, Jacob, Younghoon, Hyunjae, Juyeon, Kevin, New, Q, Ju Haknyeon, Hwall, Sunwoo, and Eric — performed several of their original songs with a good number of covers.

The Boyz was officially launched with the release of their first extended play (EP), The First, and its lead single, “Boy,” which they sang as their opening song. They released their second EP in April 2018, “Giddy Up,” followed by “No Air” in November 2018. Both songs were also performed in the fan-con.

In the first half, the group played “Name That Tune,” with the members trying to outdo each other in guessing the title of a song after only playing several bars. The member with the correct answer was required to dance to the tune. For the second game, they rose to the whisper challenge where each team was given a Philippine-related word (i.e., halo-halo, Palawan, and Rizal Park) and pass this word on to members wearing earphones, who tried to decipher it.

Notably, fans were not allowed to participate in the games.

The Boyz has won several rookie awards in various awards shows, including Korea Brand Awards, Soribada Best K-Music Awards, and Best New Male Artist at the 2018 Melon Music Awards, and as such, they were tagged as among the fastest rising K-pop groups that debuted in 2017. They were even invited to perform overseas for the first time at the 12th Asian Film Awards in Macau in March 2018.

One of the highlights of The Castle was the group’s a capella rendition of the Rey Valera classic “Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko.” Their Tagalog was far from perfect but the fans appreciated the effort, even if they managed to present only one verse and the chorus.

A set where they performed some K-hits followed, including EXO’s “Call Me Baby,” Girls Generation’s “The Boys,” Big Bang Taeyang’s “Eyes Nose Lips,” and SHINee Taemin’s “Sayonara Hitori.”

They setlist also included “Text Me Back,” and they closed the show with “Keeper.”

There were too many lulls in the show and the people behind the fan-con may have inadvertently overlooked the audio. It was often booming, distracting, and was uncomfortable for some audience members. There were also too many VCRs, and the time used to show these video clips could have been better spent on more fan interaction.

At the end of the show, which also signaled the end of the Asian tour, The Boyz thanked their fans (called The Bs) for the short but sweet run.

The Castle show has closed. (This) last one was amazing,” they said.

The Boyz are far from being K-pop royalty though they hope to reach this status soon. But in such a crowded industry, The Boyz will have to work harder to be on top of their game and prove that they have what it takes to also gain worldwide prominence.