The sound of Monbebes feral screams could be audible through screens the day that the K-pop worldwide sensation announced that Kuala Lumpur would be one of their stops for their “We Are Here” world tour.
Monsta X (몬스타엑스) is a 7 membered group consisting of Shownu, Wonho, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Jooheon, Minhyuk, and I.M. Hailing from Starship Entertainment, this is not the first time that these Hallyu stars have visited our humble shores. Only last year did Monsta X first grace us with their presence at the highly anticipated K-WAVE 3 as one of the headlining acts. After giving Malaysian Monbebes a taste of their dangerous charms, the boys kept their promise to return for a full show.
Organised by MacPiePro, the concert was held at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam, on the 22nd of June 2019, where fans had gathered hours long before the gates were officially open. There is an undoubted sense of community amongst K-pop fans, which is especially evident during events like these. Fans of all races, genders, and, nationalities came together to celebrate their favourite boys. Through exchanges of photo cards, handmade plastic fans, and other goodies, we see how music has brought together an entire community of people who all share the same passion and love for them.
Around 6pm, the empty spaces of the stadium filled itself with thousands of excited fans, craning their necks in order to get a better view of their oppas. When the smoke machines started whirring to life, immediate chants of “Monsta X! Monsta X!” rang out through the stadium, imploring the boys to come out and play.
After a bombastic intro, the equally bombastic “Shoot Out” blared from the speakers to start the night. Monsta X opted for a walk down memory lane next, as they performed two of their earliest singles; “Hero” and “Trespass”. It was a true throwback moment for fans, as this was a mark of how far they have come since their debut days. However, there was a jarring issue of only six members gracing the stage, leaving a rather obvious hole in their formation.
The lights came back on after as the members took the stage to introduce themselves. Monsta X’s personalities came to light immediately; Minhyuk’s adorable cuteness, Kihyun’s flirty confidence, Jooheon’s assertiveness, Hyungwon’s wittiness, I.M’s suave charm, and Shownu’s boy-next-door innocence. After a quick hello, Leader Shownu addressed the issue about fellow member Wonho being missing in action. Due to an unfortunate incident, he would not be joining the performance today but Shownu assured fans that they would give a great show regardless.
The stylish and sexy “Party Time” came on, complete with a bar ensemble to get everyone in the mood of chilling and having a good time. The relaxing atmosphere was rather quickly shooed away by the entrance of “Play It Cool”, a groovy dance number produced by Steve Aoki. Quickly followed by the angsty “Mohae” and the seductive “Jealousy”, fans were having the time of their lives cheering along enthusiastically. The boys too seemed pleased by this. As they waved goodbye before they disappeared into the darkness of the night to prepare for the next stages, a video popped up on the screens.
“MonTube” was a hilarious segment filmed where each member showcased their hobbies with comedy thrown into the mix. The clip was enough to get fans into stitches of laughter, which was great food for the soul; but now it was time for more nourishment.
The appearance of Hyungwon, Minhyuk, and Kihyun signaled the beginning of unit stages. The trio was decked out in suit and tie, performing their sexy and snazzy take on “Myself” by Bazzi. Next came the powerhouse rapper duo; Jooheon and I.M. with their song “3HYTHEM”. Classical Chinese imagery filled the screens, along with angry shades of red to set the mood of the aggressive rap number. With the speed the two members were spitting their lines at, it’s a miracle that they were breathing at all. An utter explosion of charisma on stage; Jooheon and I.M proved that their skills are unmatched.
However, it seemed that Jooheon wasn’t done surprising fans just yet.
Sitting at a drum set, he changed from his previous outfit into a simple t-shirt and jeans before playing a solo. What started from a seemingly simple number turned into a fast-paced one, akin to his own rap style. It looks like Jooheon’s talents and his charisma have things in common; they’re both overflowing in their departments.
— Dinaextra I SAW MX ?❤️ #MonstaXinMalaysia (@DinaTangerino) June 22, 2019
Kihyun, Minhyuk, and Hyungwon seem to be the natural pranksters of the group when they returned to the stage to explain the idea behind their unit. Proud members of the unit named “ETC”, the three began telling their deep tale of woe and wonder. According to them, when the planning for the unit stages was going on, Shownu naturally paired up with Wonho and Jooheon with I.M, which automatically leaves them with each other. Hence, they decided that “ETC” would be the perfect fit for them.
Jooheon and I.M joined them shortly after, explaining the ideas behind their unit stage as well. Apparently, the concept of “3” in “3HYTHEM” was represented the 2 rappers and Monbebes themselves, which was something that they wanted to incorporate into their performance. The other members watched in awe as I.M flawlessly communicated in English without needing the translator, which caused the youngest to blush.
Shownu’s unit stage, unfortunately, could not commence with the absence of Wonho. However, he was kind enough to give fans a little preview of what they had in store. All clad in white, Shownu broke into dance. As one of the main dancers of the group, he slipped into it like a second skin. It was especially satisfying to see him dance with his build as well, making his movements seem even lither despite how he’s built. Kihyun teased fans by saying that not only did Shownu have the best performance, but he was also the best dancer of the night. Immediately the leader cut him off, saying “I’m (a) shy guy!” in hopes to get his member to stop, clearly abashed with the sudden compliments.
Moving to the slow part of their setlist, Monsta X then played their laid back tunes. First up was “Honestly”, yet another song from their debut release. “I Do Love You” was one of the many highlights of the night, as the song was composed by the member Wonho. Despite him not being there, it was hard not to miss how the entire song was brimming with his colour. The song was complete with cute jigs and adorable poses, which reminded us of Monsta X’s natural beagle-like charm. They then sang “Sweetheart”, which much like its title, was a gentle, soft track that allowed members to walk about the stage extension to interact with fans.
Minhyuk noted how amazing Malaysian Monbebes were, which earned him a couple of deafening cheers. To counteract, the members each tried to appeal to the crowd individually. It all seemed to be going well until it reached Hyungwon, who attempted a rather cringe-worthy method that was thwarted by his own members. Kihyun slapped his hands away, even Shownu huffed at him in English to “not disappoint him”, but all of this proved to be too much pressure for the poor guy. Hyungwon just giggled in embarrassment and apologized to the crowd before all of them disappeared behind the stage yet again.
The VCR that played now was no longer an uplifting, comedic one. The tone was serious, as it spoke of the concept behind Monsta X’s albums; the Seven Deathly Sins. The clip itself was impressive, feeling much like a short film from how artistically it was shot. With imagery from their previous music videos, “Shoot Out” and “Alligator”, fans who have been steadily piecing together bits of the puzzle to understand the hidden storyline that has been carefully woven into their discography finally got the pieces they’ve been looking for.
The gloomy atmosphere intensified as the intro of “Myself” slowly filled the stadium, drowning everyone in a hazy dream. Being the group’s only song of the grunge and shoe-gaze genre, it is Monsta X’s most experimental song yet and only keeps us wondering what their next move might be. All traces of the dream were washed away by the familiar acapella of “Dramarama”, which brought all the energy back from the previous somber one. The boys looked expensive as ever, draped in Versace as they danced along to the hip-snapping beat.
As we reach the end of the night, the boys asked all fans to get to their feet for the next few songs; which were all powerhouse dance tracks. Starting off strong with the energy thumping “Oh My”, the face paced “Special”, and last but not least, the ultimate party dance track, “Fallin'”. Playing banger after banger, Monbebes had long kept away their phones in order to just lose themselves in the moment–dancing along to the beat of the night as it happened in front of them.
I.M then announced how it was time for the last song of the night, which came with immediate groans. They performed their latest title track, “Alligator”, which had passionate fan-chants along to the addictive “Ali-ali-ali-alligator” lyric. With that, the lights went off. Monbebes burst into frantic chants of “encore”, in hopes of goading the boys out quicker. After a while the lights did indeed come back on, and in its’ place stood Hyungwon but not as the regular member you knew him by.
Instead, DJ H.ONE stood tall as he began playing his mix of songs on the turntable. Unfortunately for him, there seemed to be technical difficulties that resulted in his performance being halted midway. Yet from backstage, Jooheon handled it flawlessly by constantly hyping up the crowd while staff members scuffled onto the stage to fix the issue. The fact that he could maneuver a task without even showing his face was rather impressive and speaks volumes for how professionally he can handle situations. After the setup was fixed, all members came out to support DJ H.ONE by going wild to his mixes. The boys were dancing, clapping, and once again, got fans on their feet to jump along to the EDM.
After catching their breath, Shownu mentioned how its usually his birthday around this time of the month and thanked fans for celebrating it with him, as he held up a hand-banner of his birthday. Hyungwon even noted how he felt Monbebes were similar to the pocket monster, Pickachu. When asked why, he said that he felt electrified by how much power and energy they brought to today!
It was time for the members to say their final words before the last song, which got everyone emotional. Amongst mentions of keeping promises and returning again stronger than ever, Kihyun’s speech stood out the most. He straight up apologised to fans for wasting their time, energy and passion for their mistake that ultimately cost them Wonho, which had fans strongly denying it. Seeing the guilt that they felt, it was clear that this is a two-way relationship between Monsta X and their fans.
The session wrapped up with Jooheon, who adorably started off in English by saying, “Don’t cry. If you cry, I’ll start crying too.” He spoke of how Monsta X will always be a 7 membered group, and today’s gaping hole of Wonho being missing was instead replaced by the endless support of Monbebes. With one final glance at the crowd, he said, “Tonight, dream of me.”
The fan song, “By My Side”, finally came on; signaling the end of the concert. Members started walking around the stage, waving at fans who were trying their best to say goodbye to them. The bittersweet song was aided with Korean and English lyrics on the screen, making it more accessible for fans to understand the true meaning of the song. Perhaps this is what made it harder for Monbebes to let go as well. Covered in sweat, tears, and, confetti; both Monsta X and Monbebes went their separate ways for the night.
Monsta X proved to be a professional group above all. Despite the numerous amount of challenges that presented themselves today, the boys managed to flawlessly attend to the issue without breaking a sweat. It’s in their confidence, clarity, and natural charm that really impresses us. There’s no saying how far Monsta X will go, as they grow with every step of the way, and are getting better at the game. No longer are they the eager boys with a dream but instead, are now are the composed men who are living it.