Being a fan of an idol group can be really tiring. Fans wake up so early in the morning to be in the venue of an event that will take place in the afternoon, all in the name of sitting as close as possible to the members. That’s not to mention the long travel time, the fatigue you will experience, and the financial “obligations” it entails.
The thing is, we do it anyway (with a huge smile on our faces), and last weekend is no exception. MNL48’s Christmas Mini-concert is important to us because of several things: first, it is an event where the whole group will participate. The seitansai is a regular event, but it is limited to the birthday celebrants of that month as well as the senbatsu. Mini-concerts offer a more “comprehensive” experience.
Second, new merchandise will be up for sale on that date, specifically the Christmas 2018 series of photo-cards. An idol group is a merchandise-driven business, and MNL48 photo-cards have become a lucrative market on its own.
Third, it is a celebration of MNL48’s first Christmas as an active group within the 48 Group family. And if you look at their history, this group has seen a lot of ups and downs. An uphill climb towards acceptance which is still a long way off.
Unlike previous events, there would be no media coverage. So, I had to wake up very early to be able to get to Centris Station Mall at least by 8:00 AM. I will be just another fan this time, but these days, I actually like that more because it makes you experience the things that the other fans go through, like the chaos of the registration line for example (more on that later). The Mini-concert is slated to start at 1:00 PM, but like I said earlier, there is a huge incentive to being there early.
Although the arrangement of the Movie Stars Cafe does give you a great view of the stage from all angles, the staff never made it clear what the the Do’s and Don’ts of the event are. That includes the line to the registration itself.
There was a list being passed around since the seats are on a “first-come, first-served basis” but once the doors to the mall opened, the confusion began. No one knew which line was which, or that there’s a separate line for the VIP Fanclub Members, or that the walk-in customers will also have their own line. To make matters worse, no staff was around to give us concrete directions. They just checked us out, but from where I was standing, no one besides the bouncers are giving us any instruction or at least telling us what to do.
The general feeling was that of a disorganized mess, which certainly did not seem like a good omen for the show. To give you a sense of what we went through, the doors to the Centris Mall opens at 10:00 AM. By 10:30, one of the bouncers informed us that the doors will open at 11. Fair enough, I guess. Although many of us were tired because we had been in the area for hours already, we can surely wait for another 30 minutes. That is, until one of us saw the post in Twitter by the official MNL48 account that the gates will open at 12noon.
I really, really think that one staff member should have at least gone outside, assessed the situation, and explained to us the process. That’s all we really needed: to see a staff member attend to our concerns.
The general feeling was that of a disorganized mess, which certainly did not seem like a good omen for the show.
The long wait, the heat in the lobby which was getting full, and the fact that I got rained upon early in the morning all contributed to me feeling pretty miserable at that point. Tired and miserable, and finding out that the actual registration (which was done in Movie Stars Cafe’s concierge table) was smooth added to my confusion. To be fair, the line was constantly moving at that point, but I do believe that at least one member of the staff should always go out and assess the line. Or at least, deputize a fan to do that. We’re not the horde, and we’re willing to cooperate. We just need to know what’s actually going on and how we’re supposed to proceed.
The seats are first come, first served, and sitting there was very welcome to my tired hips and knees. But there will be no rest for the weary as I went on with the wheeling and dealing of the photo-cards, and as experience tells me, it’s better to make your move now, with resellers and traders that you know, who might be willing to sell you a card for a bargain price.
Prior to entering the venue, I bought a Series 3 (Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie) Ash close-up photo-card I would later had to sacrifice for another. The free photo-card that I got was a half-body shot of Abby, and I was supposed to keep it until someone offered a close-up Kay for it. And I think I wouldn’t have to explain why a Kay photo-card is a MUST for me.
Because I did not bring my photo-album, I resorted to buying the rest. I made up for my loss of the PFC Ash photo-card by securing an Ash close-up Christmas version. The rest is a blur, but I managed to score a Dana and a Lara. Later on, I would manage to acquire a close-up Sha.
The concert was originally slated to start at 1:00 PM, but it was already nearing 2PM and there was no indication that it’s about to start. There wasn’t even an announcement that everyone should go back to their seats. Well, maybe there is one, but I wasn’t able to catch it. But hey, I’d take to waiting inside a cool MSC with available food and drinks (and restroom) and comfortable chairs to standing outside in the hot lobby any day. It just feels strange as all the MNL48 events held in MSC had all started on time, and this one, one of their biggest events of the year, they seem to be lagging behind.
But as they say, a great performance will wipe all the fatigue and the negative feelings away. And that is true for this mini-concert. When the Overture played and the girls came onstage, the energy went back up. However, it is the quality of those performances that really took the cake. While there were several audio hiccups (some songs seemed to have their intro cut) and technical problems with the microphones, the performance itself was stellar.
The set-list is as follows:
- M00 Overture
- M01 Aitakatta-Gustong Makita (All members)
- M02 Umiindak na Saya (Team L)
- Representatives for AsiaFes 2019
- 10 VIP members of fanclub can win a ticket to the Asia Festival in Bangkok Thailand (Edit: Info updated. I’m no longer sure it will be an “all-expense paid” trip).
- M03 First Rabbit (M-II)
- M04 Palusot Ko’y Maybe (Team NIV; new costumes revealed)
- M05 Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie (Media Senbatsu)
- PFC is platinum certified
- M06 Talulot ng Sakura (All members)
- PV/Gospel subunit – Amazing Grace
- M07 Amazing Grace
- M08 All I Want for Christmas is You (All members; Mariah Carey cover)
- M09/ENCORE Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie (All Members)
After the concert, the girls went to the merchandise booth as usual to entice their fans to buy merchandise like copies of their current single, and photo-cards. Since I’m already on a strict budget by that time, I declined to fall in line. The line was considerable though, and hopefully the girls sold a few more copies that will add to their already impressive sold numbers.
With nothing else to do, I decided to call it a day. It’s the day before Christmas Eve and I’m expecting traffic to really do a number. I forgot just what time I decided to call it quits, but all I know is that fatigue is really starting to set in.
MNL48’s Mini-Concert went extremely well despite our experiences with the line, and all that waiting in the heat, and some very unclear instructions. But hopefully the staff will consider these things for improvement. In my personal view, there seemed to be fewer staff that day, which might explain why no one could be bothered to attend to the fans and bring some order into the line. Also, the event reminders should always be posted before every event to further educate event-goers into how they should conduct themselves.
I also think that it is time the fans are educated on the do’s and don’ts of each event. The girls have improved in their MC segments, but a lot of it cannot be heard through the fans’ screaming of their oshimen’s name. I assure you, Sela, Rans, Abby, and Alice will appreciate it more if you’d listen to what they’re actually saying, rather than just you screaming their names like some possessed individual. They appreciate our passion, but they also rehearsed their lines so it would be better if we could hear them out.
As always, my favorite part was whenever Kay was onstage most especially during the “All I want for Christmas is You” performance for the sole reason that she was performing near to where I was seated, and she saw me in the crowd (or I think she saw me in the crowd). During the line “All I want for Christmas is you”, she was looking and pointing at me. Okay, so I think she was looking at me. Maybe I’ll never really know unless she confirms it, but that’s the beauty of idols. An idol gives love to her fans and whether it is especially, personally, and exclusively for you or for all of you, it shouldn’t really matter. You take that love with your fellow fans and then give it back.
An idol gives love to her fans and whether it is especially, personally, and exclusively for you or for all of you, it shouldn’t really matter.
All Fanclub VIP members recieved a personalized greeting from their oshimen. For this year, I chose to have my message done by Ash. Knowing Ash from before she became a member, I was hoping I’d get a message that I knew was for me and only for me. I wasn’t disappointed. The message truly was for me, along with a dig at my first name.
Despite the day starting pretty bad, the actual concert instantly made me forget about any negative feelings I had. It was a wonderful feeling, seeing the girls go through the program with ease. Their skill level now close to what I am hoping for when the Theater finally opens.
What this event has shown me is that MNL48 not only has a real deep connection with their fans, they are more than ready to take it to the next level: a stage.
A stage, 2019. Oh, don’t let me down.