Just when we thought that 2018 was done with us, BTOB proved to still have tricks up their sleeves. CUBE Entertainment’s septet surprised Malaysian fans with a fan meeting on the 16th of December (Sunday). The event was held at MITEC’s Ballroom, which seated over hundreds of Melodies (BTOB’s fandom name) that came from far and wide to see their favourite oppas.
The last we saw of BTOB was actually only last year during the first round of K-Wave Music Festival, where they performed alongside various other K-pop acts. However, this fan meeting in particular was a special one, as it was the last time BTOB would be seeing fans for a long time. With mandatory army enlistment just around the corner for the boys, it was touching to see them come back one last time.
Fans were lining up at the venue hours before the event started, exchanging freebies among themselves. The event garnered the attention of fans from all over South East Asia; with attendees from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and even Taiwan and South Korea. Excitement was in the air already, as they could barely contain themselves from being reunited once again with their favourite group.
When the lights went off, all that was visible were shades of blue being emitted from lightsticks in the form of saxophones. The cheers were practically deafening from the crowd, as they waited for the grand entrance of the boys. With a bombastic intro VCR that hyped everyone up, BTOB finally graced the humble stage of the ballroom with their presence.
Beginning the night with a delicate ballad, the piano intro of “Missing You” started playing from the speakers. As the sentimental song slowly filled up the hall, fans waved their lightsticks along in unison. As the fanmeeting was a rather bittersweet one for both parties, BTOB chose to sing a majority of their milder songs—opting for their ballads over their more jovial tracks. Fans were not even the least disappointed, as BTOB never fails to bring their A game.
While most groups in K-pop are known for their catchy, fast paced dance tracks, BTOB excel when it comes to ballads. Being some of the most prominent vocalists in the industry, they took full advantage of their voices when it comes to live performances. As they are a seasoned group (debuting back in 2012), it was so satisfying seeing how naturally the members slipped into their stage personas.
The boys introduced themselves and excitedly greeted fans. BTOB typically consists of 7 all rounded members; leader Eunkwang, Hyungsik, Minhyuk, Ilhoon, Peniel, Changsub and Sungjae. However we were only joined by 6 of them, as Eunkwang is already in the military. Regardless, they proved to be fully functional without their leader—goofing off like their ordinary selves.
Youngest member Sungjae noted how he was just recently here in Malaysia for the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 and how glad he was to be back. Ilhoon tried his best to speak in English, mentioning how, “Kuala Lumpur is beautiful… and so are the women.” After an array of woos, they sang 2 more songs from their latest EP, “Hour Moment”, “Friend” and “Climax”.
With an evening lined up with activities for both BTOB and Melodies to participate in, it was hard to tell who was more excited. Emcee Hani was brought on stage to help communicate during the games; her bright and bubbly personality matching the boys’ enthusiasm. BTOB’s beagle-like charms were present as ever, evident with their ruthless teasing of fans. However it was a 2-way street, with Melodies themselves getting back at the boys when they got the chance.
The first activity up was called “Melody’s Wish” where BTOB would choose wishes in the form of post-its that fans had written on before the show. This was also a chance for fans to come up on stage, depending on their wishes, which sent the crowd into frenzy. With the aid of Hani, it was rather comical seeing BTOB learn casual Malay slang. As some of the members took a long time deciding to pick a wish, Sungjae kept on telling them, “Cepat sikit!” and even adding in, “Ahh, stress!”.
Among the wishes that Melodies wanted were: a rather amusing dance battle between Changsub and Sungjae (which the former won with his unique facial expressions) and Hyunsik singing a verse from Frank Sinatra’s “Moonwalk”. However the star of the session goes to the lucky fan who Peniel picked, as her wish was to sing on stage with BTOB. It was truly a wow moment to hear her belting the song as if she was a performer herself, matching in perfect harmony with the members. BTOB themselves were so impressed; they jokingly asked if she would like to take Eunkwang’s place.
With that, they wrapped up the first session. Sungjae mentioned how he felt like a genie granting fans all their wishes. It was then quickly followed by a lucky draw, which were based on ticket queue numbers and pure luck. Lucky winners either won a signed album or a Polaroid-like instant photo of the members. It was impressive to see how the members of BTOB turned even a number announcement into something entertaining; never losing a chance to make Melodies smile.
Throwing it back a little old school, BTOB performed a much older single of theirs, “It’s Okay” which arguably gained them recognition for their vocals and choice of genre. They brought the house down with their harmonies and high notes. Keeping in the line of ballads, they also performed, “Only One for Me”.
Hani came back on stage, which signalled the start of the next game. It proved to be quite the challenge, as Melodies had to guess the song within 1 second of it playing. They were playing against the BTOB members themselves, which would normally feel like no brainer but the boys gave no exceptions. The moment the first round started, they snatched the opportunity almost at once to guess the right answer. They loosened up for the second round, allowing fans to actually guess but even then, they never did stop with the teasing.
When a fan won a prize for the round, Sungjae jokingly mentioned that her present would be Changsub’s phone number. With the constant mantra of, “Lek lu!” (courtesy of Hani teaching them the Malay equivalent of ‘calm down’) BTOB were such natural entertainers on stage. There was barely a need for an emcee with how confidently they carried themselves.
The final round of games played with something similar, except instead of listening to a song clip—Melodies now had to guess the song by hearing a member sing a single syllable. This proved to the tougher than the former game, which took several tries before a right answer was produced. BTOB actually invited the winners of this round on stage, solely because they felt their efforts deserved it. It was also hilarious seeing Sungjae guess a song correctly, then demanding for a present (though he did give it up in the end to the next winner).
After all the fun and games, it was only fitting to perform something similar. The stylish “Movie” began playing, getting everyone into the funky groove of the track. BTOB did switch it up however, playing the dance track “Blowin’ Up” immediately after—which caught most fans off-guard. Suddenly all traces of the nostalgic ballads gone, wiped away by the throbbing of heavy bass and fast paced choreo. Sungjae snuck in the famous Fornite ‘hammer dance’ as well, earning chuckles amongst screams from fans.
Breathless after an upbeat number, the boys mentioned how it was time for their final round of messages for the night. Almost immediately, groans were heard from fans, who felt that time went by far too quickly. All the members wished for Melodies to always stay healthy and happy, and that they would return again as a whole group. There was a biting pain with this statement, as it would be a few years until all the members are done with their military enlistment. Nevertheless, fans assured BTOB that they would wait for them—no matter how long it would take. Sungjae decided to lighten up the mood by asking what famous food was there to try in Malaysia, but due to the chaos of answers that ensued, he gave up and retorted, “…I will search (for it) myself.”
It was heart wrenching to hear “Beautiful Pain” after all the messages of goodbye. The meaning of the song more obvious than ever now, Melodies teared up to the melancholic number. When the lights went out and BTOB disappeared, fans broke into a harmonious chorus of “Someday”, imploring them to return for the encore stage. Clearly it worked, as Peniel announced from the shadows that they would give them one last song before saying goodbye.
Ending the night with “Finale (Our Concert)” was an absolutely brilliant choice of an encore track. One where all members belt their hearts out together; the emotional number was practically written for moments like this. The song tugged at all the right heartstrings while having a perfect sing-a-long chorus. It was hard for fans to concentrate on the delivery of the song though, with members throwing roses to the crowd. Nevertheless, it was a moment of pure musical bliss. With an almost majestic air to it, BTOB took a grand exit after a perfect showcase of their vocal abilities.
Not many groups like BTOB often come along. They proved to be one of a kind, with their natural loveable charms but unmatched musical talent. Even though a hiatus is likely on the horizon with one member after the other leaving for the military, there is no doubt that they can return strong as ever with the fierce love of their fans.
Article by Leyasheena Panicker.