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NCT 127’s “The Unity” Tour in Bulacan and Other Ways They Changed My Life

NCT 127’s “The Unity” Tour in Bulacan and Other Ways They Changed My Life

Fact Check: NCT 127 gave Filipino NCTzens one heaven of a show

 

 

I started attending concerts when I was nine years old—I’m 22 now. Having seen more performances than I can count with my two hands, I can say that NCT 127 is one of the greatest acts I have ever witnessed.

 

For those who don’t know, Neo Culture Technology, fondly known as NCT, is an experimental boy group based in South Korea. They currently have 26 members clustered into fixed subunits, namely NCT 127, NCT DREAM, WayV, NCT DOJAEJUNG and NCT WISH. Ever-changing combinations are made in another subunit called NCT U. (They have yet to take a complete group photo.)

 

 

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A post shared by NCT Official Instagram (@nct)

 

While I love the group as a whole, NCT 127 takes the spotlight today. The group of nine, consisting of Lee Taeyong, Moon Taeil, Johnny Suh, Nakamoto Yuta, Kim Doyoung, Jeong Jaehyun, Kim Jungwoo, Mark Lee and Lee Haechan, is currently on their third world tour called Neo City: The Unity. Their most recent concert took place on the 21st of January at the Philippine Sports Stadium, marking their first solo stadium show outside of South Korea and Japan. 

 

Jaehyun noted that performing outdoors makes him feel quite emotional, saying it has a cozy vibe that he loves. As Johnny describes it, “We have a very moody night ahead of us. We got the moon up there, we got the stars down here (pertaining to the audience).” The clear view of the moon also reminded us of Taeil, who is on hiatus due to a severe injury. Though he was understandably absent, the love of the fans—affectionately called NCTzens or Czennies—surely were not, as we tirelessly chanted his name when moments allowed.

 

 

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A post shared by NCT 127 Official Instagram (@nct127)

 

Backtracking a bit, my admiration for the group began during the pandemic (like a lot of life-altering hyper-fixations did). My sister Bianca has known about NCT since their pre-debut days, so when she decided to revisit her love for K-pop, she took me along for the ride because she had a strong feeling that they suited my overall style. True enough, I felt the same. I guess it’s a perk of having a sibling, best friend and concert buddy rolled into one!

 

NCT 127’s “The Unity” Tour in Bulacan and Other Ways They Changed My Life
I took this photo of Bianca after she received an NCT 127 album as a gift

 

NCT 127’s “The Unity” Tour in Bulacan and Other Ways They Changed My Life
And here’s my sister and I hours before finally seeing NCT 127 live!

 

It started with one music video, followed by another, and then another. The next thing I knew, I was learning their names and watching their guestings. Here I am years later, declaring my love for these boys with strangers on the internet. Being a K-pop stan is not something that can easily be understood by outsiders. For them, telling an artist you don’t know personally that they saved you is a bit too much. For us, it’s only the truth.

 

Take me for example. Stuck at home in quarantine, all I had was spare time, editing software and NCT—also known as a group of boys who make music that some label as “noise” and perform dances that look silly when people other than them do it. So, like everyone else tired of living the same day on repeat, I picked up a new hobby.

 

 

 

I discovered new ways to express myself by diving into the world of graphic design and digital art. Bianca went as far as opening her own art account, @renananca. Being in a state of shock after encountering a group that resonated so well with me, I leaned to visual arts because I couldn’t make sense of my thoughts just yet. And when I did, I shared them, too. Some of my favorite stories I’ve written on Wonder as an editorial intern are about those boys, from Jungwoo’s quarter-life milestone to Mark’s ability to make eggcellent music.

 

 

For other stans, the connection is as or even more profound. This can be felt before, during and after the show. Sure, NCity gets chaotic at times, but we all share the same goal at the end of the day, and that is to be there for our boys the way they are there for us. It’s no joke, really—organizing projects, finding transportation, preparing your outfit, walking for hours under the heat and so much more.

 

 

Once you’re inside the stadium, the music you know too well starts playing, the lights go out and neo pearl champagne becomes the perfect ocean view. Suddenly, the chaos is forgotten and time stops.

 

The eight members made their grand entrance with the electropop song Punch, singing lines like “I’ll fight without regret, my show goes on,” which perfectly set the tone for the evening as the members gave their 127%. Surely, it made the crowd cheer as loud as they could. The group proceeded to perform six more songs nonstop before finally taking a break to greet Czennies. This pattern was recurring, and it displayed their incomparable endurance and ability to entertain. To me, performing and connecting with the crowd like so is the group’s incredible way of expressing their gratitude.

 

They continued performing jaw-dropping numbers with their iconic title tracks like Simon Says, Favorite, Kick It, 2 Baddies and Fact Check. (I sure hope Sticker makes it to the set list next time, and I’m sure Czennies agree—they were requesting it repeatedly.) NCT 127 made sure to include their beloved b-sides, such as Crash Landing, Skyscraper, Parade, Sit Down! and Love is a beauty. Of course, their debut single Fire Truck had its moment, too—one that felt like a party wherein the entrance fee was letting loose and going all out.

 

They closed the show with a heartwarming number of Promise You, singing, “I promise you, on the day we meet again, I’ll smile. And more than saying any words at all, just like you showed me, I will give you my heart for eternity.”

 

 

It was an out-of-body experience, witnessing NCT 127 perform in the flesh. I celebrated many of my wins with their songs, and they comforted me when I learned lessons I wasn’t ready for. Add their iconic graphics that launched me into a new world into the mix, and form a picture of me holding back my tears while very upbeat music is playing.

 

Out of all the concerts I’ve been to, this is the only one where I barely moved and spoke. That’s because I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. It’s not that I locked eyes with them (I was watching from the bleachers). I wasn’t underwhelmed either, no, not at all. I simply…froze. I thought that only happened in movies—losing the power to make movements and utter words when you meet a superhuman you look up to or cross paths with someone you love.

 

This was something my sister noticed. Attending shows with me for more than a decade now, she knows my behavior well. I’m always putting my hands up, screaming words and lyrics, doing mini dances and even starting crowd chants. When she told me after that I seemed quiet, I knew. I knew that I had the greatest pleasure of immersing myself in art, so deep that it controlled me better than I could control myself. I wasn’t moving, and that’s because I was moved.

 

 

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A post shared by NCT 127 Official Instagram (@nct127)

 

I always tell myself that being a K-pop stan might not make sense to others, but that doesn’t matter. After all, I’m the one who lived through the positive changes they brought me, and I’m sure they were real because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if they weren’t. 

 

Seeing live shows is a privilege that we don’t talk about enough. If you were there, I’m happy we got to spend the magical evening with NCT 127 together. If you weren't, I hope my words will do for now. All you need to know is, they really are the biggest hits on the stage.

 

 

Words Kyla Villena

Translations Genius

Art Macky Arquilla

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